April 2, 2012
Nearly 1 million Americans die every year from preventable diseases. Even small changes and community initiatives can make a big difference in living healthier lives. This year's National Public Health Week, "A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement!,” which runs from April 2 through April 8, will offer Americans strategies to adopt healthy behaviors in five key areas. Below is a selection of the many tips provided by the American Public Health Association to help everyone get involved in positive preventative practices.
Active Living and Healthy Eating
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, consume less sugar and fat, eat healthier snacks, watch portion size and eat together as a family.
- Engage in daily physical activity. Aim for at least 60 minutes for children, 30 minutes for adults.
- Support walk and bike-to-school programs and work with local governments to make decisions about selecting school sites that can promote physical activity.
- Plan family trips to parks and other outdoor locations.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs
- Quit using tobacco products. Ask your health service provider or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for cessation support.
- Avoid binge drinking, use of illicit drugs or the misuse of prescription medications and, as needed, seek help from a clinician for substance use disorders.
- Do not drive if you have been drinking alcohol or after taking any drug that can alter your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
- Promote tobacco-free environments in your home, business, school and areas of recreation to protect individuals from secondhand smoke.
- Support your family, friends and neighbors when they are working to live tobacco- and drug-free, and reduce high-risk alcohol consumption.
- Proper food handling, preparation and storage, as well as adoption of hand-washing practices within commercial establishments, health care facilities and homes, can help reduce contamination and prevent foodborne illness.
- Follow the recommended immunization schedule for children and adults.
- Report cases of communicable disease outbreaks in your community; use Health MAP to report flu near you.
Reproductive and Sexual Health
- Have routine preventive screenings to enhance early detection of HIV, syphilis, Chlamydia and other STIs.
- Support comprehensive reproductive and sexual health services for men and women, as well as sexual health education.
- Communicate with children regarding their knowledge, values and attitudes related to sexual activity, sexuality and healthy relationships.
- Promote community-based prevention programs that address intimate partner violence and sexual violence.
Mental and Emotional Well-being
- Provide positive parenting practices to reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment and the emergence of child behavioral problems.
- Identify the signs of depression and suicide and refer people to appropriate resources.
- Become more involved in your community by becoming a mentor, tutoring youth or joining a faith or spiritual community.
For more information about National Public Health Week, please visit http://www.nphw.org/.Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.