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What It Takes To Get Healthy

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
November 3, 2010

Healthy UNH has an action plan to help folks get healthy. It’s pretty simple, really: eat right, exercise, have annual exams, reduce stress, and, if you smoke, quit.

Did you know that, within 12 hours of quitting smoking, the carbon monoxide level in your blood returns to normal? A year after you stop, your increased risk of heart disease becomes half that of someone who smokes.

Ten years out, the chances of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a smoker’s. And, when you’ve been smoke-free for 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as someone who has never smoked.

Eating right means having a balanced diet not just in its make up but in portion sizes. For example, it’s recommended that a portion of meat, fish or poultry be no bigger than a deck of playing cards. Compare cheese and peanut butter servings to a 9-volt battery.

Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. A diet high in fruits and vegetables (the USDA recommends two cups of fruit and two cups of vegetables daily) may help reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and bone loss.

Stress has been related to headaches, high blood pressure, stomach problems, stiff neck and jaw pain, and trouble sleeping. One way to help reduce stress is through exercise. Meditation and yoga are helpful tools.

Another option open to UNH benefited employees is to attend a StressEraser workshop. The StressEraser is a small portable biofeedback device used to alleviate stress by activating the relaxation response. Guiding the user through a series of simple breathing exercises, relaxation can occur within 15 minutes, calming the mind and relaxing the body.

Exercise plays a key role in health, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and other diseases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests adults get at least two and a half hours (150 minutes) of moderate aerobic activity ( walking briskly, for example) weekly, and do strength training exercises at least two days a week.

If you have a hard time finding a free hour to exercise, take heart. The CDC says it’s okay to get those 150 minutes in small segments as long as it’s done at a moderate pace. So, walk for 10 minutes a couple of times a day, five days a week.

And don’t forget that benefited employees can get up to $500 paid each year for a gym membership providing they go eight times a month.

If you think you need help making any of these healthy changes, you could try working with an wellness coach. Offered through the Employee Assistance Program’s partnership with APS Healthcare, the program has a team of nurses, counselors and dietitians who will provide the support and information you need to develop new habits or shed old ones.

To enroll in APS Healthcare go to www.apshelplink.com or call 1-800-424-1749. To learn more about what Healthy UNH is doing to make health a priority, visit http://www.unh.edu/healthyunh/take-action.

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