January is the time when most of us make New Year's resolutions. Oftentimes, these resolutions involve improving our health.
Building healthful habits can lead to improved quality of life. For example, did you know that participating in regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health? It can help control your weight as well as reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. It also helps strengthen your bones and muscles, improves your mood and increases your chances of living longer.
Feel like you don’t have any time for exercise? Interestingly, the new Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans stress that you don’t need to spend hours a day at the gym. You can meet minimum requirements by getting active for 150 minutes per week. You can even break that up into increments of time as small as 10 minutes and spread them throughout the week. For more information about the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, go to www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity.
Another major constraint on our time is the work day. If you’re an employed adult, you probably spend the majority of your waking hours at work. Thurston County offers a program called WorkWell that helps local employers create healthier work sites by increasing access to physical activity and healthier foods at work.
Every February, the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce’s WorkWell Designation Awards honor local employers that have made changes to support employees’ health. Last year, the chamber honored 30 employers that made changes such as sponsoring employee gym memberships and providing healthier foods at company meetings and events. Even a small change at a site – for example, posting signs encouraging employees to use the stairs – can add minutes to individual daily activity time. And small changes over time add up. For more information about the WorkWell program, contact Kateri Wimsett at 360-867-2516 or email@example.com.
WorkWell also sponsors the LiveWell Program, a six-week workshop developed by Stanford University for people living with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis, depression, and heart disease. The workshops help those with chronic health conditions learn new ways to manage their conditions, live healthier lives, and connect with others in the community who share the same challenges, concerns, and emotions.
LiveWell is recruiting individuals and organizations interested in leading or helping sustain LiveWell in the community. For more information, contact Jamilia Sherls at 360-867-2514 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on how your organization can help, contact Chris Hawkins at 360-867-2513 or email@example.com.
Make 2010 the year that you do something to improve your health!
Dr. Diana Yu is the health officer for Thurston and Mason counties. She can be reached at 360-867-2501 or firstname.lastname@example.org.