These evidence-based wellness tips are brought to you by Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk
September 2019 Buckeye Wellness Tip
In a recent press release by the American College of Sports Medicine, researchers confirmed that physical activity completed in any duration is associated with health benefits and count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly activity. Take time each day to get moving, even if only for five minutes. This wellness tip is brought to you by Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk.
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Eating a minimum of five fruits and vegetables a day is critical to promoting good health. People who eat a diet with generous amounts of produce are likely to reduce their risk of chronic diseases, including stroke, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. If you are eating two servings a day, commit to eating three (or five!)—and just make ONE change for your health. To get a variety, think of the colors of the rainbow. Eating fruits and vegetables of different colors gives your body valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Eat healthy for National Nutrition Month
Eating healthy is essential for optimal health and wellness. During National Nutrition Month, remember to build your healthy eating plan with your unique lifestyle and nutritional needs in mind. Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and include whole grains and lean protein options (the size of the palm of your hand). When you’re on-the-go, pack non-perishable foods, such as fresh fruit or trail mix, for healthy eating throughout the day. To control portion size at restaurants, split one meal with a family member of friend, or take home half your meal for leftovers.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics emphasizes the important role of healthful eating and physical activity to achieve a healthy weight and prevent chronic disease. Make a plan on the weekends and purchase healthy foods for dinners and snacks during the week; not having a plan typically leads to unhealthy eating. Strive for the recommended five fruits and vegetables per day. Eating light and eating often, including breakfast and healthy snacks between meals, boosts energy throughout the day and avoids overeating at dinner.
March is National Nutrition Month. Make yourself a priority and take care of your body by understanding nutrition labels. The Food and Drug Administration has a five-part checklist: pay attention to serving sizes and how much you plan to consume; do the math on how many calories you will consume based on serving size; know which nutrients to get enough of/limit; and check the recommended dietary advice for all Americans.
Strive for five for good health; 10 for great health! Recent research indicates people who eat 10 portions of fruits and veggies per day substantially reduce their risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber to optimize health and reduce risk of chronic diseases, which affect one of two Americans.
Fill half of your plate with a variety of fruits and vegetables. This will help you reach the recommended 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily. Also, curb the desire to grab a candy bar by preparing healthy snacks for days that you are on the go. Try unsalted nuts, carrots and celery sticks, an apple, or whole grain crackers with all-natural peanut butter. Follow these tips to spring into a healthy start.
Increase your fruits and veggies!
More Matters month. An easy way to increase your fruit and vegetable intake is to add one more serving with each meal to get to at least five servings per day. You’ll make a big impact on your overall health. Aim to eat the colors of the rainbow to benefit from the nutritional values fruits and veggies provide.
As the weather gets warmer, it’s the perfect opportunity to get moving outdoors. Meet your weekly 150 minutes of physical activity, along with fresh air and vitamin D. Go for a walk or jog, ride a bike, or take a walk in the woods. If you are at work, ask a colleague to join you for a wellness walk on your next break.
Physical activity is great for your health. Fitting activity into daily life can be easier than you think! Take a 10-minute walk, park farther out in the parking lot or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Every minute counts and doing some activity is always better than doing none. Choose activities that you enjoy and do them regularly to achieve the recommended 150 minutes a week. Join Hit the Road with the Buckeyes challenge in October to get moving.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a “magic pill” that could make you feel more energized, well-balanced and reduce your risk of many chronic conditions? Good news—there is! It’s called exercise. Our bodies were designed for movement, and engaging in just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day helps reduce many risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. With warmer weather approaching, there are plenty of opportunities to become active. Find a way that suits your lifestyle, such as walking, biking or swimming.
You may not have a block of 30 minutes to set aside for exercising five days a week, which is the evidence-based recommendation for adults, but there are several opportunities throughout the day to work in some activity. For example, every hour throughout the day, make a commitment to getting up and walking or stretching for five minutes. Use the stairs instead of taking the elevator and park further away from your destination. Physical activity is cumulative, so three 10-minute bouts are as good as a 30-minute session!
Let’s get moving! What better time than Spring to boost your physical activity levels. Whether you are a conditioned athlete or just starting to think about adding more activity into your life, getting outside, enjoying the weather and being active is a great way to stay motivated. Ohio has an impressive park system, with many locations to take your family. Find a park near you for a leisurely hike, jog, or a game of Frisbee. Also try to sit less, stand more and move every hour for more energy throughout your day.
Improving Mental Well-being
Ohio State can help you achieve an optimal state of mental well-being. Learn to stay in the present moment, meditate daily or do one minute of deep breathing. Take part in physical activity, such as the Ohio State Health Plan 5k and the Buckeye Wellness Amazing Race. Connect with the Employee Assistance Program if stress is interfering with your functioning.
Dealing with daily stress? JustBreathe is a new university campaign and resource center designed to help you practice effective and evidence-based relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Faculty and staff are encouraged to check out the free JustBreathe resource center for further information on and effective tools for combating stress. . JustBreathe reminder stickers, created by the One University faculty and staff wellness sub-council, a committee of the One University Health and Wellness Council, are available for order in limited quantities.
Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep? If so, your physical and mental health may be suffering. The evidence-based recommendation for adult sleep is at least 7 to 9 hours. Try these tips for high quality sleep: Set a sleep schedule and stick to it, even on weekends. Turn off electronics an hour before bed. Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. Avoid bright lights late at night as they disrupt circadian rhythms.
Consider your sleep cycle an important part of wellness this fall. If you or your children (or grandchildren!) are going back to school, set a regular bedtime about a week before school starts to create a good sleep routine. Poor sleep has been linked to memory loss, increased risk of heart disease, depression, anxiety, and reduced immune system functioning. With a regular sleep schedule, you are more likely to get the amount of sleep you need to stay mentally, emotionally and physically well.
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and behave, along with how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy lifestyle choices. Ohio State Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk reminds us professional help is available if stress, anxiety and depression are interfering with your life. Ohio State has an on-line program called "Beating the Blues" that you can access by contacting the employee assistance program. Contact 800-678-6269
Taking care of your physical health can improve your mental health. Be sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night; Practice healthy eating by eating whole grains, 5 servings of fruit and vegetables, low fat dairy products, and beans and legumes. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity per day; try to get 10 to 15 minutes of sun per day; and limit alcohol to one drink a day if you are a women; 2 a day if you are a man, and avoid cigarettes and other drugs. Leading a healthy lifestyle prevents chronic disease, including mental health disorders.
Mental health disorders and substance abuse are closely tied to chronic health conditions. Research shows that rates of mental health problems are significantly higher for people with diabetes, asthma, and heart conditions. Recovery Month spreads the positive message that a healthy emotional well-being is essential to your overall health. Ohio State’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a valuable resource for mental and emotional well-being education, support and counseling. The EAP can assist you and your family on your journey to a healthier, happier life.
According to the 2012 PHA findings, stress levels are still elevated, but slightly lower than the previous two years. 46% of faculty and staff experience high levels of stress, which puts them at risk for health issues such as cardiovascular disease. Take charge of your thoughts and emotions and the way you deal with problems. First, identify your sources of stress and how you respond to them. Next, develop creative and healthy ways to manage your stress, such as exercising and practicing mindfulness. By engaging in these activities or other healthy ones, you can positively cope with life’s challenges!
Too much stress puts your health at risk, including heart disease, digestive problems, depression, weight gain and sleep problems. It’s important to learn healthy ways to cope with stress. Strategies to manage your stress include eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep, practicing simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing, fostering healthy friendships, finding humor in everyday life, and seeking professional counseling when needed. Managing stress brings peace of mind and a healthier life.
Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? Support heart health this February by attending one of many complimentary events available to all benefits-eligible faculty, staff and spouses. These include biometric health screenings, educational programs, fitness classes and more! Heart disease can happen at any age — start managing your risk today.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology have released new guidelines that define high blood pressure as 130 mm Hg and higher systolic, or 80 and higher diastolic blood pressure, instead of 140/90. The pre-hypertensive category has been eliminated. Earlier intervention can help to prevent complications from high blood pressure, such as heart disease and stroke. Healthful lifestyle behaviors can help to maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. While you can’t change some of these factors, such as getting older or your family history, you can lower your risk of breast cancer by engaging in 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, maintaining a healthy weight, eating at least five fruits and vegetables daily, not smoking and limiting alcohol intake.
One out of every three adults has high blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke. To help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level, be sure to be physically active most days of the week; limit sodium intake to under 1,500 mg per day; manage your stress; limit alcohol; and be sure to take your medications as prescribed.
Eating well to maintain a healthy weight is one of the most important things you can do to lower your risk for type 2 diabetes. Some healthy tips, brought to you by the Chief Wellness Officer Bernadette Melnyk, include using a grocery list when shopping for food to help you choose fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, buying lean meats and lower fat dairy products, and setting aside some time to plan your weekly meals.
Preventive care is one of the most important steps you can take toward achieving a healthy lifestyle and optimal wellness. It helps prevent illness, injury or medical conditions before they happen. Studies have supported that regular preventive care extends life expectancy. Talk with your primary care provider about your health questions and concerns. Preventive care is especially important during the month of July. Always remember to wear protective clothing and an SPF 30+ sunscreen to prevent skin cancer.
November is American Diabetes Awareness Month. Nearly 30 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and another 86 million Americans are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. To reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity five days per week and eat foods that are high in nutrients, low in fat and added sugar, and moderate in calories.
September is National Cholesterol Education Month
There are many things you can do to keep your total cholesterol at a healthy level (below 200) or to reduce your unhealthy cholesterol, LDLs (lousy lipids). Eat a healthy diet, avoid saturated and trans fats, increase your intake of fiber, don’t smoke, and engage in 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week to raise your HDLs (healthy lipids) and maintain a healthy weight. Act now and be one in a Million Hearts®.
Learn the signs for a stroke
In the U.S., someone dies of a stroke every four minutes. Receiving treatment within 3-41/2 hours can greatly improve chances of recovery. You can save lives by recognizing the warning signs of a stroke using FAST: Face drooping, numbness or uneven smile, Arm weakness or numbness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 9-1-1. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading contributor to stroke, so schedule your biometric screening today.
Be heart healthy!
Approximately 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. Many of these deaths are preventable with healthy lifestyle behaviors (engaging in healthy eating and active living), medications, and awareness of your personal needs and risks. Knowing your numbers is the first step to a heart healthy life. On Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, get your Million Hearts health screening. Your Plan for Health will be offering free biometric screenings for faculty and staff at several locations on campus to help you become aware of your numbers and your health.
Hand-washing is easy and one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many illnesses. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another. Hands should be washed before, during and after preparing food; before eating; after using the restroom; when coughing or blowing your nose; and after taking out the trash. As a rule of thumb, rub your hands together for at least 20 seconds while using soap. If soap and water are not accessible, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes. An additional 79 million are pre-diabetic. It has been predicted that one in three Americans will have diabetes by 2050, unless we take steps to prevent the onset of this condition. The good news is that diabetes and its complications can be prevented or delayed by properly managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Eating five fruits and vegetables per day, being active 30 minutes a day and quitting smoking can lower the risk of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association invites you to join the Stop Diabetes campaign.
To lower your risk of cancer, eat a healthy diet, engage in regular physical activity and maintain a healthy body weight. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), one-third of the most common cancers in the US can be prevented by following AICR’s recommendations. Try to eat a greater variety of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while avoiding processed meats. Be as active as possible, aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Prevent additional weight gain and keep your body fat level in its healthy range.
Be one in a million!
Heart disease and stroke are two leading causes of death in the US. Every day, 2,200 people die from cardiovascular disease. The Million Hearts initiative is a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by the year 2017. You can commit to the Million Hearts pledge by:
- being physically active
- knowing your ABCS (Appropriate Aspirin Therapy, Blood Pressure Control, Cholesterol Management, Smoking Cessation and Stress Management)
- Eating a heart-healthy diet
- Following your doctor or nurse practitioner’s instructions for prevention and treatment
Hand washing is the single most important way to prevent the spread of infection, especially with cold and flu season upon us. It is important to wash your hands frequently, such as before eating and before and after caring for someone who is sick. Even though there is evidence to support the benefits of hand washing, it is not a routine habit for many people. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Teach and encourage those around you to wash their hands frequently as well.
The number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes over the past three decades has tripled and the Centers for Disease Control predict that 1 out of 3 people will have diabetes by 2050. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to health complications, including heart disease, loss of vision, and kidney damage. Being active can help lower your risk for diabetes. Join a fun exercise class, have a walking meeting, swim at an indoor pool, or take the stairs more often. There are 1,440 minutes in every day—make a decision today to spend at least 20 to 30 of them in some type of physical activity.
High blood cholesterol affects 65 million Americans. The higher your cholesterol, especially the low density lipoproteins (LDLs) in your blood, the greater is your risk for developing heart disease. September is National Cholesterol Education Month, which is a good time to get your cholesterol checked and to take steps to lower it if it is high. Lifestyle behaviors, such as healthy eating, exercise, and managing stress can help lower elevated cholesterol levels, which reduces the chance of having a heart attack or developing cardiovascular disease.
Create healthy holidays
During the holidays, people tend to experience increased stress and overindulge in sweet treats. It’s good to remember the 80/20 rule: 80 percent healthy foods, 20 percent “want” foods. Filling your plate half full with fruits and vegetables will help to reach that goal. Aim for seven hours of sleep, drink mostly water, engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per week and take five deep breaths when stressed. With these behaviors, you’ll reduce your risk of chronic disease and have a healthy holiday season.
Setting SMART goals for the new year
It’s 2017 and it’s time for fresh way of thinking when setting your wellness goals! First, you’ll want to write a specific goal statement. Secondly, define how you’ll measure your progress. After this, you will want to ask yourself “Is your goal attainable,” and “Is your goal relevant? Lastly, ensure that your goal is time-bound. Ask yourself these questions as you set goals after engaging in the Buckeyes Band Together for Wellness program to set SMART wellness goals this year!
How to set successful New Year's wellness goals
When setting a New Year’s resolution, keep in mind these effective tips:
- Start small; make a resolution you can keep.
- Only change one behavior at a time; to do otherwise can be overwhelming.
- Share your resolution with family and friends.
- Minor missteps when reaching your goal are normal; don’t give up
- Accepting help from those who care about you will help you to be more resilient and reach your goal.
Have a healthy holiday
Maintaining your health during the holidays can be challenging. Keep your immune system working properly by engaging in 150 minutes of physical activity per week; getting seven hours of sleep per night; eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats; practicing stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing and guided imagery; and washing your hands frequently throughout the day.
For the new year, set just one new goal
There is no better time of the year than January to make a resolution to improve your health and wellness. Set a goal to make just 1 change, which might include making healthy food choices, being physically active, taking the steps instead of the elevator, scheduling a check-up with your doctor or nurse practitioner, practicing safe habits (e.g., wearing a helmet when bike riding), becoming tobacco-free, implementing strategies to decrease stress, or getting more sleep. Setting a realistic and specific goal will help you to make just 1 change for your health.
Take advantage of the beautiful weather and stay physically active. Hiking, biking, swimming or other outdoor sports are great ways to have fun and meet the evidence-based recommendation of 30 minutes of activity, five days a week. Don't forget wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen. Stay hydrated and energized by drinking plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty. Learn more about sun protection and hydration here.
Sunlight is the main source of UV rays, but you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. In fact, a little sunlight every day is important for boosting your Vitamin D level. Simple steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays include seeking shade between 10am and 4pm, when UV light is strongest; cover as much skin as possible with long sleeve shirts, pants and hats; wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater; wear sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them; and avoid tanning beds.
With warmer weather conditions, summer is ideal for camping, outdoor picnics, and relaxing vacations. No matter where you go, food will typically be a featured part of your summer plans. Before you hit the road, follow these guidelines to keep your food safe when traveling. Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces with soap and water. Pack perishable foods in a separate cooler from drinks to avoid opening coolers frequently. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from prepared foods, and never let food sit out longer than two hours (or one hour on days above 90 degrees).
Summer is a great time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Gardening is a great way to get physical activity, enjoy the environment, and make your neighborhood a more beautiful place! To stay healthy while outdoors, protect yourself from the sun with a wide brimmed hat, use an SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, read warning labels on gardening chemicals and equipment before you use them, and always check yourself for ticks. Enjoy the beauty and bounty the outdoors can bring!
July is UV Safety Month
Summer is a great time of year to think about skin safety. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer and vision damage. Anyone can get skin cancer, but the risk is greatest for people with light-colored skin, blond or red hair and blue or green eyes. Take these steps to help prevent skin cancer:
- use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
- cover up with long sleeves, a hat and wear sunglasses
- check your skin regularly for changes
Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body, so stay safe while exercising in hot weather by drinking enough fluids; don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes to help sweat evaporate and keep cooler. Avoid mid-day sun by exercising in the morning or evening and wear sunscreen to protect your skin. Watch for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness, such as muscle cramps, weakness and nausea. If you ignore these symptoms, your condition could worsen and result in a medical emergency.
As the new school year approaches, life in an academic setting can become hectic. While your professional work can be a gateway to future success, it also can be a source of stress and anxiety. No matter the cause, be sure you get the support you need if you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Using services available at Ohio State, such as our Employee Assistance Program, can help to improve your emotional health.
The beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for both parents and children alike. Parents can sometimes overlook their children’s anxiety and nervousness, but children are extremely capable of coping with change. Parents can help them in the process: encourage your children to share and express their feelings; practice the first day of school routine; talk to your children about their fears and worries; empathize with them; get involved by learning about your school and community; and ask for help if the stress gets to be too much by seeking advice from a mental health expert.
Summer break is coming to an end and that means it is time to prepare for the start of a new school year with greater demands on your time. As life becomes more hectic, it is even more important to take care of ourselves and incorporate regular recovery breaks into our schedule to keep energy levels high. Block off a little time each day to relax and engage in an activity that you enjoy. , Take a daily walk, spend 10-15 minutes reading a book, or spend quality time with family or friends. This quality time for yourself will help you to recharge and better take on life’s challenges.
Back to school tips for parents
Getting the school year off to a good start can influence children’s social and academic performance. Here are a few suggestions to ease the summer-to-school transition:
- schedule well child and dental checkups; discuss concerns you have over your child’s emotional or psychological development with your doctor or nurse practitioner
- re-establish consistent bedtime and mealtime routines at least one week before school starts
- purchase school supplies as early as possible and fill backpacks a week before school starts
- visit school with your child to reduce anxiety, especially if it is a new school or your child is just starting school
Have you performed an act of kindness today? It may be as simple as thanking friends for their help, volunteering at a local shelter or getting colleagues together for a community service project. Acts of kindness can boost your mental well-being and positively impact your community.
Brought to you by the Chief Wellness Officer of the University, Dr. Bernadette Melnyk, the Band Together for Wellness program includes education and activities focused on the nine dimensions of wellness. Newly launched in March 2017 was the program’s intellectual dimension module. Some strategies for improving your intellectual well-being include reading for fun, attending public lectures, or learning to play an instrument. Learn more strategies for improving your intellectual well-being by participating in the Band Together for Wellness program.
Incorporating creativity into a wellness program can provide hope and clarity in those with health issues, assist in maintaining wellness, build resiliency, and enhance social support. Engaging in artistic activities such as drawing, cooking, and music are some simple examples of ways to incorporate creativity into your life. Brought to you by Chief Officer Bernadette Melnyk, the Band Together for Wellness program features a creative wellness module will help you learn other strategies for incorporating creativity into your daily life.
Improve your health and wellness starting today with Buckeyes Band Together for Wellness program, an online program available free to faculty and staff. This innovative program is based on the nine dimensions of wellness and is composed of short modules that can help you prevent and improve symptoms of chronic disease. Click here and search "Buckeyes Band Together" to participate in the program.
Ohio State is celebrating National Employee Wellness Month. Setting aside a bit of time each day to focus on wellness will improve your mood, health and productivity. There are a number of free wellness events for you to participate in, including on-campus fitness classes, biometric screenings, and the inaugural family wellness expo. If you are unable to attend one of the university’s wellness events, consider starting a walking club with your colleagues, enjoy time at a park with friends and family, or write down things that you are grateful for in your own life.
Men’s Health Month is a time for men to become more aware and knowledgeable of health promotion strategies, preventable health problems, disease detection, and treatment. Men are at a greater risk of complications from heart disease, cancer and stroke because they are less likely to visit their primary care provider (CDC, 2013). Men—take action this month by completing your Personalized Health Assessment (PHA), scheduling a biometric screening, and making just 1 change for your health, such as increasing your physical activity, eating healthy and managing stress.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, women are 100 percent more likely to visit their doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. On average, men die almost six years earlier than women and are four times as likely to commit suicide (CDC, 2009). Regular checkups and age-appropriate screenings for men, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and prostate exams can improve your health and reduce premature death and disability.
With the time change upon us, waking up can be more difficult. It is still dark out, so your body thinks it is time to sleep. Try going to bed 20 minutes earlier to help your circadian rhythm – your internal clock – adjust. Stick with your usual bedtime routine or create a relaxing one to help you wind down. It should only take a few days to adjust.
The key to maintaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle that includes healthy eating, regular physical activity, and balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body needs. Whether you are already at a healthy weight or are overweight, the first step is to prevent weight gain. A little planning is necessary to achieve your goals. Choose a healthy eating and exercise plan with short-term, realistic goals. These plans allow you to self-monitor your behaviors over time to determine if the plan is successful or not.
In 2011, 3,331 Americans were killed and 387,000 were injured in automotive crashes involving a distracted driver. A distracted driver is someone using a cellphone, eating, grooming, using a GPS system or reading. Texting is the most common distracting activity because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. To reduce your risk of a preventable accident, make a pledge to never text while driving. Limit your cell phone use while driving. If you have to take a call, make sure you use a hands-free device.
Health literacy is not just about being able to read health information—it’s about your ability to understand and process it so that you can make the best decisions for your health. It is estimated that approximately half of adults in the US lack effective health literacy skills. If you do not fully understand health information, you may be placing yourself at risk for poor health outcomes. To improve your health literacy, try repeating your health care provider’s information in your own words. Keep asking questions if you don’t understand something you have been told.