Rx For Daily Life: Do’s and Don’ts for a Healthier You

Set simple goals, have sleep habits checked and other habits of the healthy.

Don’t skip the sunscreen
A recent CDC report indicates that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and more than 90 percent of melanoma cancers are due to skin damage from UV radiation exposure. Slather on the SPF 30 or more.

Do get your sleep habits checked
Waking in the middle of the night can be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious condition.

Do limit screen time
Protect kids’ brain development by limiting their screen time to two hours for older children and one hour for toddlers.

Don’t let spring fever turn into summer pain
According to Aurora Health Care’s June 2015 Quarterly Report, one in four surveyed respondents experience a summer-related exercise injury, with sprains and muscle pulls topping the list. We know it feels good fintally to get out there, but start slow and build steadily.

Do cut sugar
Fat and carbs take a lot of heat, but 2015 federal dietary guidelines suggest that added sugar is the real offender. Sweets, candies, desserts, coffee drinks and soda don’t just wreak havoc on weight — they’re linked to serious health issues like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Illustration by Whitney Salgado.
Illustration by Whitney Salgado.

Do get your flu shot
According to the CDC, only 44.1 percent of Wisconsinites were vaccinated during a recent winter, ranking our state near the bottom of the country. Aurora Health doctors and health-care experts unanimously agree the flu shot is the best defense against the virus.

Don’t think you have to be a runner
Walking and bicycling can be just as effective for cardiovascular health and weight loss.

Don’t focus on what you can’t have
It’s human nature to rebel against restrictions. Instead of obsessing over cutting things out, set a simple goal to add things in, like two more vegetables a day, or a multivitamin.

Do short bursts of high-intensity exercise
No more excuses: Recent studies show even just 10 minutes of high-intensity interval training can be as or more effective than 60 minutes on the treadmill.

Do sweat every day
Tricks like standing up every 20 minutes, always taking the stairs and opting for the farthest parking spot are good rules of thumb, but they shouldn’t replace dedicated exercise. Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes of moderately intense activity, four to five times a week.

Don’t expect to jump from couch to 5K
If your activity level is very low, don’t let unrealistic goals torpedo your efforts. Start where you are and build gradually to avoid injury and create a sustainable exercise habit.

Do get screened
Many of the deadliest cancers are highly treatable if caught early. Start screening for prostate between 40 and 50, annual mammograms between 35 and 40, and get a full-body skin check every year.

Illustration by Whitney Salgado.
Illustration by Whitney Salgado.

Don’t ignore sodium
Salt from preservatives is a hidden hazard, and even a “healthy” fast-food option like grilled chicken salad can pack a 1,000-mg wallop. Fresh, unprocessed foods help keep sodium intake under 2,000-2,500 mg a day.

‘Rx For Daily Life’ appears in Milwaukee Health, a special issue from Milwaukee Magazine.

Find Milwaukee Health on newsstands beginning May 2, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer whose work has also appeared in Madison Magazine, Midwest Living and Wisconsin Bride.