Staying well starts by taking responsibility for your own health, say health professionals. That may mean making changes in lifestyle and relying less on others to keep track of how you're doing.
"You need to ask questions and do research, and don't rely on the medical care system to take care of you," said Carol Bond, director of health education for the Mission Park Medical Clinic.
Bond suggests that people keep a personal record of their blood pressure, cholesterol tests and other health data. These numbers are wellness indicators--they can help you know what's going on inside your body. Paying attention to them fosters a greater awareness of good health.
Here are some specific tips from the preventive medicine department at Kaiser Permanente:
* Eat healthy. Include low-fat, high-fiber foods in your diet, and drink two quarts of water a day.
* Exercise a minimum of three times a week.
* Don't smoke.
* If you drink, do so in moderation.
* Be aware of what causes stress in your life, and take measures to cope effectively, or change the situation.
* Don't take things too seriously. Use humor to deal with stress.
* Figure out how much sleep you need, and strive to get that amount of sleep every night.
* Develop a support system that works for you.
* Develop satisfying relationships and hobbies.
* Review your career situation. Remember, you always have options.