The Journey Starts Here: The Road to a Healthier Life
Start with a professional’s opinion.
The path to healthy living can seem unpaved— even for those who are ready to start the journey. We're over-booked with our various obligations and feel stressed just trying to keep up. But here's the good news: Better health is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You can take small steps and get there gradually at a pace that works for you.
So where to start? Since you've come this far, let's begin with an honest assessment of your health.
The Professional Opinion
Before you go running for the first time in years, or otherwise attempt to exercise without oversight, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommends annual check-ups for all Americans.1 Tell your doctor about your intention to become healthier, and ask for any advice. A basic exam should be part of your appointment, as should any screenings your doctor deems important. Blood tests and other measures can determine whether you have any underlying health conditions that might prevent you from taking part in certain activities.
On Your Own
As part of your physical, your physician may measure your BMI, or body mass index. BMI is an accurate measurement of body fat. It's also an indicator of one's relative risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, and other health conditions.2 Get an idea of what your BMI is now, and you can measure again a month or two down the road to see how far you've progressed. BMI measurements are calculated using height in feet and inches and weight in pounds. If you’d like to measure your own BMI, use this free BMI calculator maintained by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Now is also the time to evaluate both your diet and your physical activity. Use the CDC's online food diary to track what, when, and where you eat and drink to get an idea how your diet fares now. And then do the same for exercise. The CDC recommends 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week.3 See how you stack up by tracking your physical activity here, and you can look back at your notes in the weeks and months ahead to see how much you've improved.
Finally, consider your sleep. Insufficient slumber is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions—everything from diabetes and obesity to depression.4 How much sleep do you really need? The National Sleep Foundation's sleep times chart is a good place to start.
Tally your results and get ready for change. Now that you know just how healthy you are, it's time to find out how healthy you can be.
Show ReferencesHide References
- "Regular Check-Ups Are Important." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 01 Apr. 2015. Web. https://www.cdc.gov/family/checkup/.
- "Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Web. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/risk.htm.
- "Physical Activity and Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 04 June 2015. Web. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/.
- "Sleep and Sleep Disorders." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 12 Mar. 2015. Web. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html.