Life Times Newsletter

Spring 20008
Vol. 10, No. 2

Live like your life depends on it

Mary Schroepfer, MED
Nutrition & Health Education Specialist

You can improve your health and prevent or lessen effects of chronic diseases through diet and exercise. You can live a long and satisfying life even after being diagnosed with a chronic disease. Your attitude about the diagnosis can impact your ability to fight the disease. Changing behavior leads to a higher quality of life.

Live Like Your Life Depends On It is a statewide health campaign to improve the health of Missouri citizens. Sponsored by Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, University of Missouri Extension and other partners, the campaignís four main messages are 1) Eat Smart, 2) Move More, 3) Be Tobacco Free and 4) Get Recommended Health Screenings.

The goal is to reduce the risk for chronic disease. A chronic disease is defined as a prolonged course of illness for which a complete cure is rarely achieved, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or cancer.
Risk factors for multiple chronic diseases include: poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, not receiving screenings for chronic diseases, and lack of health insurance.

Hereís a summary of four primary actions you can take to improve your health.

Eat Smart. Choosing the right variety of foods will help maintain a high quality of life and prevent many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

         Eat 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Fresh, canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are all good choices.

         When dishing up dinner, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

         Enjoy fruit for dessert.

         Snack on grapes, raisins, bananas, apples, raw carrot sticks, low-fat yogurt and cheeses to get the servings you need.

         Consume at least three servings of whole grains, pastas and rice every day.

         Eat smaller portions. Using smaller plates will help you eat smaller portions.

Move More.  Activity can help you maintain a healthy weight. It can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke. It can also help manage diabetes, prevent osteoporosis and ease aches and pains associated with arthritis.

Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Physical activity can be fun at any age. Choose an activity and start today. Begin by dancing, gardening, exercising in water, playing with kids, pedaling in the park, or walking and talking.

Be Tobacco Free. If youíve smoked for years and think itís too late to quit, consider this:  If you stopped smoking today, your health would begin to improve almost immediately. Here are some tips to help you quit tobacco:

         Set a stop date.

         Have a plan.

         Remove temptation.

         Talk to your doctor or health care provider. In addition to improving your health, thereís another benefit to quitting smoking: The health of your family and friends will improve when they are no longer exposed to your second-hand smoke.

Get Recommended Health Screenings. Health screenings canít exactly predict the future, but they can provide information about health issues you might face as you get older.

Screenings can warn you about possible health hazards down the road. Screenings can help you make choices now to prevent health problems later that might impact the quality of your life. Talk to your doctor about the health screenings you need.

Recommended screenings for both men and women include: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, colorectal cancer and depression. Additional screenings for women include breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis.

You can make lifestyle choices that will help you live a longer, healthier life. Live like your life depends on it.

For more information visit:

Return to the Life Times Newsletter main page

University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller