You may have seen the ads, “You in the Honda. Put down the doughnut.” That’s just one innovative approach of Montage Health, a non-profit health entity that includes the hospital I’ve been affiliated with for many years. In its annual report, this health organization issued a lofty challenge: “Let’s make Monterey the healthiest county in the state.” (It’s currently ranked No. 22.)
To be sure, great healthcare is a big part of keeping citizens fit. In fact, says Montage Health, “our greatest dream is to keep you out of the hospital.”
Yet each of us individually has a big part to play as well. As health care moves from go-see-the-doctor-when-you’re-sick mode to I-want-to-feel-as-good-as-I can-every-day model, we have some work to do.
No matter where we live, say experts, a few simple steps can reap big rewards to our health … if we practice them most days. Here are some practical suggestions from Montage that can pack a wallop of health into our busy bodies:
• Drink more water. As mentioned in last week’s column, body cells work most efficiently to produce energy when they are well hydrated. Dress up plain water with slices of lemon, orange, berries or other fruit.
• Get out of my chair. Health experts say that some activity (at least 10 minutes at a time) is better than none. And regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to optimize our health, according to the latest research summarized in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
• Eat greens every day. “Greens” includes dark-green leafy vegetables (salad, anyone?) such as broccoli, spinach, romaine, kale, collard, turnip and mustard greens. Raw or cooked or raw, either is fine.
• Spend less time on my phone. Believe it or not, we sometimes function better when we disconnect from all the chatter.
• Go to bed earlier. Sleep is when the body restores itself at the cellular level and damaging stress hormones are turned off. Plan at least eight hours a day for this health-promoting activity.
• Do not eat at my desk. Ouch. Take at least 20 minutes to focus on relaxed eating. The world can live without you for that long.
• Spend more time outside. Got that one. I am happily writing this column on the back porch with my puppy asleep under my chair.
• Enjoy a backyard barbecue every once in a while. It’s summer! And good evidence says we tend to ingest more health-promoting nutrients when we share meals with friends and family.
Find other ideas for making your community healthier at www.HealthierMontereyCounty.org.
Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator affiliated with Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula in California. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition” (Westbow Press, 2015). Email her at to firstname.lastname@example.org.