The 5 elements of the National Healthy Lifestyles Day 2017 and how you can take part

 In Healthy Tips

The South African government uses the National Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Day to encourage South Africans across the country to participate in the following 5 main elements:

  • Promoting good nutrition
  • Regular physical activity
  • Tobacco control
  • Interventions against alcohol and substance abuse
  • Promotion of safe sexual behaviour

National Healthy Lifestyles Day takes place on 22 February annually, giving people the chance to tackle health problems such as obesity, inactivity and unhealthy diets. That being said, here are a few tips and tricks you can do in order to take better care of yourself.

Good nutrition

  • Eat at least 3 fruits every day – Make a salad
  • Add more beans to your diet
  • Increase your vegetable intake
  • Eat whole grains such as brown rice, brown bread etc.
  • Enjoy two sources of dairy a day
  • Limiting saturated fat is key in maintaing healthy lifestyles
  • Eat 3 meals a day
  • Drink more water

Regular physical activity

  • Make small changes to the amount of exercise you get in a day
  • Take the stairs instead
  • You only need to do up to 30 minutes of exercise a day
  • Get a friend to join you at the gym; someone who will keep you motivated
  • Plan an exercise program at home if you feel too self-conscious to go to the gym
  • Take part in a fun sport such as baseball, cricket, golf or tennis

Tobacco control

  • Don’t smoke. But if you do, here are a few tips to kicking the nasty habit:
  • Be prepared for cravings
  • Identify your smoking triggers. For example, situations that bring on stress
  • Join a nicotine support group
  • Consider unconventional methods such as hypnosis, acupuncture or counselling
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe something to help you quit
  • Set a quit goal. By this date you will have quit smoking
  • Avoid friends and family who smoke around you
  • Don’t. Buy. Any. More. Cigarettes

Intervention against alcohol and substance abuse to maintain healthy lifestyles

  • Set a drinking goal or standard for yourself. Resolve to only enjoying one alcoholic drink when at a party
  • Don’t keep alcohol in your home
  • Drink slowly
  • Look for alcohol-free alternatives
  • Don’t give in to peer pressure. If you’re old enough to drink legally, you’re old enough to overcome peer pressure
  • Get support. If you feel you have a problem, don’t let it fester. Join a group if you have to.

Substance abuse

  • Identify the signs of substance abuse
  • Invest in strategies to help you get through it
  • Do thorough research of your recovery options
  • Alcohol and substance abuse are often used as coping mecanisims for depression and anxiety
  • Alcohol and substance abuse can actually increase the risk for mental health problems
  • Consider family history – Were there any other people with a history of substance abuse in your family?

Symptoms of substance abuse

  • The inability to cut back on alcohol and substance abuse
  • Denial about the amount or frequency of substance abuse
  • Family and friend expressing concerns
  • A feeling of guilt and shame after substance abuse
  • Blackouts caused by substance abuse

Promotion of safe sexual behaviour

  • Always use a contraceptive before engaging in sexual activities with a significant other
  • Raising a child at a young age is risky business
  • Unsafe sex can lead to the spread of STDs such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis
  • Get tested for HIV regularly
  • Limit your number of sexual partners
  • Visit a doctor when you spot the signs of an STD
  • Chlamydia rates are higher amongst young women
  • According to the Centre for Disease control, the South showed the highest rate of chlamydia cases amongst women with a rate of 720.2 cases per 100 000 females in 2015
  • Teach young people about the practice of safe sexual behaviour
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