With each New Year, many Americans resolve to better themselves in some way, but few stick to it. So, Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department staff have compiled a list of suggestions — along with local resources — that can help boost your health and well-being.
“We hope 2018 is your healthiest year yet,” Communications Coordinator Karrey Britt said.
1. Moderate drinking
Having a glass of champagne to celebrate the New Year or other special occasions is fine, but don’t overdo it. Almost one in four adults in Douglas County are binge drinkers, which is much higher than the rate in Kansas. Benefits to drinking less alcohol include: lower blood pressure, lower risk of cancer and liver problems and weight loss.
For information about alcohol prevention and treatment services, contact Lawrence-based DCCCA at 785-841-4138 or dccca.org.
2. Move more
Moving 30 minutes each day is the best medicine any doctor can prescribe. It can help reduce arthritis, dementia, diabetes, anxiety, depression and risk of death — and it’s free.
Yet, about one in five Douglas County adults report not participating in any physical activity or exercise. That activity could be walking a dog, playing basketball, taking a fitness class or going for a bike ride.
If you need some motivation to get started, there are a number of services and programs in Lawrence, including:
3. Eat healthier
Only one in four Douglas County residents reported consuming fruit at least once a day, and only about one in five reported consuming vegetables at least one time per day.
Don’t make a resolution to go on a diet that denies yourself of the foods you enjoy. It’s a strategy that rarely works. Instead, try — with each meal — to incorporate a fruit or vegetable.
A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products. It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.
Just Food will be offering a series of four “Just Cook” classes in January at Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St. They are free and open to anyone. The first class is Jan. 9. For more info, visit justfoodks.org and click on programs, call 785-843-3833 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Stop smoking
For the approximately 1 in 5 Douglas County adults who still smoke, it’s never too late to quit.
If you’ve tried before, try again!
The Kansas Tobacco Quitline — 1-800-QUIT-NOW (749-8669) or KSquit.org — is one of the most cost-effective resources. It provides free, private counseling and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Within 20 minutes, your heart rate and blood pressure drop, and within 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. One year later, the excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker’s.
5. Get enough sleep
People will often cut back on their sleep for work, for family demands, or even to watch a good show on television. But if not getting enough sleep is a regular part of your routine, you may be at an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and stroke, poor mental health, and even early death.
Adults need seven or more hours per night.
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, Lawrence Memorial Hospital has a Sleep Center, where doctors can diagnose and treat sleep disorders. For information, visit lmh.org/care-treatment/sleep-center or call 785-505-3789.
6. Practice prevention
Have you had your routine dental and doctor exams?
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
People with a usual source of health care generally have better health outcomes and actually spend less on their health care. However, about 11 percent of Douglas County residents reported not seeing a doctor because of costs. That percent is higher for dental work.
Fortunately for Douglas County, there are clinics that provide care for low-income residents. They are: