Healthcare reform will succeed if it gets people to live healthier lives. It will fail if you don't take advantage of any healthy-living tools it may offer—and if doctors, insurance companies and government don't focus on preventing chronic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease by attacking their root causes.
But don't wait for them to act. Laws can't make you healthy; only you can do that. Read our columns, watch Dr. Oz's show on TV
, subscribe to RealAge.com
's daily health tip. But most important of all, adopt habits that fight the biggest causes of preventable illness. You'll live longer, keep yourself out of our "sickness-care" system and (insert applause here) help hold the line against rising healthcare costs.
Here are four things you can do today—right now!
Keep Reading:Can you be addicted to tanning salons?Should Congress be sued for medical malpractice?How healthcare reform could change what you have for lunch
- Move it.
Set aside 30 minutes a day of your time and use it to walk. Your heart, your waistline, your weight, even your sex life and your brain will benefit. Walk no matter what. Get up early if there's a busy day ahead, do laps around the living room if a monsoon's brewing. After a few months of daily walking, extend your time and/or distance, and add a short strength-training routine.
- If you smoke, shake that butt.
Tobacco robs you of 10 years of life and adds 20 years of disability. It raises your odds for heart disease, cancer and emphysema. Quitting ain't easy, but it's worth it. Five years of smoke-free living can help you win back most of the years lost to cigarettes. Smoking's a psychological and physical addiction, so line up plenty of strategies in advance: nicotine replacement therapy, a prescription anti-craving drug and buddies who will support you. A month before your quit date, start walking 30 minutes a day too.
- Eat as if your life depends on it.
You know the drill, so just do it: Go for more fruits and veggies. Switch from refined to whole grains. Get your protein from fish, skinless chicken, low-fat dairy and a small daily serving of nuts. Watch portions. Eating fewer calories can extend your longevity as it whittles your waistline.
- Enjoy a daily ah break. Reducing stress feels good and helps your immune system function optimally. Spend 5 minutes a day in prayer, meditation, yoga or a deep-breathing exercise.