Porter Health System Suggests 8 Changes to a Healthier You

By: Porter Regional Hospital Last Updated: October 16, 2009

An apple a day.
Eight glasses of water.
Eight hours of sleep.

We’ve all heard the rules for healthy living. Yet there are simple changes we can all make that will make a dramatic difference in our overall health

1. Stop Smoking
Kicking the habit can add years to your life and save you $2,000 a year on cigarettes alone (not to mention the inevitable healthcare costs!), according to Kelly Spagna, Porter’s Tobacco Dependency Treatment Coordinator. In fact, smokers die 13 to 14 years earlier than nonsmokers. Spagna is a valuable resource for Porter patients interested in ending their tobacco habits. “There are so many new tools to help people quit, including a new Indiana Quitline that provides free services and nicotine patches,” she said. “The body is very forgiving and you can reverse much of the damage caused by tobacco, but you need to quit before it’s too late,” she said. Spagna recommends that tobacco users begin by contacting the free Quitline at 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1.800.784.8669) or indianatobaccoquitline.net.

2. Know Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can have dramatic consequences on many of your body organs and as a result cause long term medical problems or worse,” said Allen Miller, Director of Cardiology for Porter’s Cardiac and Vascular Institute. High blood pressure – also referred to as the silent killer – is a real national health epidemic that can damage the heart and kidneys, and lead to strokes. In fact, high blood pressure will be responsible for more than 60,000 deaths this year in the United States. “Once you learn your blood pressure numbers, you can work to reduce your blood pressure through lifestyle changes and seeking medical help,” said Miller. “A drop in blood pressure could mean a positive jump in your health and your quality of life.”

3. Be Active
“Exercise is absolutely essential for a healthy lifestyle,” said Michael Nimmons, Exercise Physiologist with Porter’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Department. “Exercising 3-5 days a week for 20-60 minutes at a moderate pace has been shown to significantly reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease, cardiac-related events, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and death at an early age,” he said. Porter’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Department offers a convenient, supportive spot to begin or advance your fitness routine – complete with treadmills, Airdyne stationary bicycles, Concept II rowing machines, Nu Step recumbent step machines, and a universal weight machine. And, the best part is that it’s run by a medical staff, including nurses and exercise physiologists. “We offer a really helpful and non-threatening environment that often appeals to people who are intimidated by a more traditional health club,” said Patty Neely, supervisor of the department. To learn more about the program, call Cardiac Rehabilitation at 219.263.4629.

4. Reduce Stress
A stressful life can do more than give you sweaty palms and headaches. Stress can suppress your immune system and increase your risk for heart attacks, strokes and other health problems. “Without a doubt, we see that long-term stress has very negative effects on our bodies,” said Prasanthi Tummuru, MD, an Internal Medicine physician. “We recommend that our patients find healthy ways to reduce their stress. Start a hobby. Exercise. Spend time with people you like. Find a reason to laugh a little,” she said

5. Monitor Your Health
To ensure your long-term health, be proactive in seeking quality medical care and managing your own health. Porter’s free Physician Referral Line can help you to find the right doctor with a simple phone call, based on your needs, location, insurance requirements, and personal preferences. Simply call toll-free at 1.800.541.1861.

6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is a big negative for a number of reasons. Each year more than 100,000 motor vehicle accidents are sleep-related and many catastrophes, such as Chernobyl, Three-Mile Island, and Challenger were officially attributed to errors caused by sleepiness and fatigue. The National Institutes of Health reports that 60 million Americans suffer from some sort of sleep problems. Sleep disorders often remain undiagnosed. In fact, nearly one in two people who have the deadliest sleep disorder – sleep apnea – remain undiagnosed. If you’re feeling tired, have trouble falling asleep, sleeping through the night, or snore loudly you may benefit from Porter’s Sleep

7. Fill Up on Fiber
Filling up on fiber (25+ grams per day) can have many positive benefits, according to Stephen Paul, MD, a gastroenterologist with Digestive Healthcare Associates. “Higher fiber can lower your cholesterol, improve your colon health and help control your weight,” said Paul. According to Paul, people who eat diets higher in fiber tend to eat less because they feel satisfied faster, curbing their appetite. And, better colon health means less colon cancer, diverticular disease and other

8. Be a Lifelong Learner
“We know how valuable it is to stay engaged at all stages of our lives,” said Karen Martine, Advisor for Porter’s Senior Circle. “Keeping ourselves active and seeking out others is a great way to maintain long-term health,” she said. Senior Circle is a national non-profit organization committed to enriching the lives of adults age 50 and older. Porter’s chapter encourages the healthiest, most active lifestyle possible by providing opportunities for education, volunteering, wellness programs, social activities, and member-only discounts. To learn more, visit nwiseniorcircle.com or call Martine at 219.263.5087.

Reproduced from StayHealthy magazine by Porter Health System