National Public Health Week: Healthiest Nation 2030

The month of April brings with it National Public Health Week, five days of reflection on the health of our nation and the direction we plan to take to ensure optimal health for all our citizens. We often consider ourselves fortunate to be a part of a society with superior health care, but there is still much to do to become the Healthiest Nation by 2030. The truth is, Americans live shorter lives and suffer more health problems than their peers in other high-income countries.

In fact, we rank 34th in terms of life expectancy and yet we spend more health dollars per person than any other nation. This strange imbalance is partially due to lifestyle factors that we, as individuals, have control over. It is no secret that our lives have become more sedentary as we have shifted from manual labor to high tech careers. Our diets have changed with a higher reliance on processed food that is easy to cook by busy, working people. The tobacco industry wants your dollars and spends billions on advertising to secure them.

We are stressed. We take short cuts in our sleep and often sacrifice moments of relaxation to work on yet another project that life demands. During this month, take time to consider how your health is now and where you would like it to be in 2030. If you think you need to change things up a bit, consider the following daily tips to improve health during National Public Health Week. Each day brings a new focus to help build a healthier you, one step at a time.

Monday: Develop healthy habits
Eating balanced meals and exercising regularly helps to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and protects your long-term health. Today, start small. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walk around the block after lunch. Drink water rather than sugary soda. Over time, turn these actions into habits for your health.

Tuesday: Quit tobacco
If you use tobacco, make a plan to quit for good-quitting will help you live a longer, healthier life with more time to spend with family and friends. Talk to your provider about tobacco cessation programs and support within your community.

Wednesday: Resolve to sleep more
Most adults need approximately 7-8 hours of sleep per day to function at their peak performance. Children need even more. Make a sleep routine and stick to it, avoid drinking caffeinated products prior to bedtime and keep technology out of the bedroom.

Thursday: Wash your hands more often
Handwashing is still the number one way to prevent the spread of infections such as coughs and colds, food-borne illnesses and influenza.

Friday: Get vaccinated
Make sure you are up to date on your immunizations. Talk to your provider to learn which vaccinations you might need, including hepatitis A and B, pneumococcal, MMR and shingles.

Living a long and healthy life is a goal we can all strive for. Making small life style changes to improve our health can have a huge benefit over time. Together, and in partnership with your health care team, we can all work towards being the Healthiest Nation by 2030. For more information about National Public Health Week, visit Army Public Health Nursing at the PX Monday, April 4 from noon to 2 p.m. or contact Maj. Rosemary Wosky at DSN 590-1374 or Commercial 06371-9464-1374.