Monday Medical: 4 numbers for a healthier you

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When did being healthy get so complicated? Every day we hear new tips about losing weight and improving health. Yet all these “discoveries” have failed to make a dent in America’s obesity problem.

Although there is no such thing as a magic pill to better health, there is a simple, scientific plan that anyone can follow. Those who are willing to invest some time and get back to basics may learn to love LiveWell Colorado’s 5210 campaign, which uses four numbers to help guide us through the day.

It starts with five. Just like mom always said, “Eat your fruits and vegetables,” specifically this would be a minimum of five servings per day.

LiveWell Colorado reports that nearly 75 percent of Coloradans are not reaching this minimum. There is more to a healthy diet than just eating fruits and vegetables, but putting them first is a great place to start. A positive way to do this is to concentrate on fitting in the “good stuff” rather than lamenting about what you’re cutting out.

Next is two. Spend two hours per day or less watching television, searching the Internet, texting or catching up on social media. Recreational screen time eats up valuable hours that could be spent moving.

Many of us have to sit at a desk or stay relatively sedentary for eight hours per day. When you do have a choice, get up and get going. Don’t let a glowing screen steal those last precious hours of daylight. Set a timer, and when it rings, get outside and enjoy the Yampa Valley.

That leads us to one. Aim for one hour or more of physical activity each day. This may sound like a lofty goal for some folks, so here are a few ideas to help you make it work:

■ Break it down into 15- or 30-minute sessions. There is no rule stating that you have to sweat it out for an hour at a time. Get up early and do a half-hour exercise video. Then take a walk during your lunch break or after work.

■ Make a commitment to an activity you love and look forward to, such as a fitness class or a weekly walk or bike ride with a friend.

■ Develop a routine that works for you. Some people find comfort in doing the same workout each week. Others thrive on trying something new and switching it up. The best activity for you is the one that you’ll stick with.

■ All of your activity doesn’t need to be intense. Of course, you want to really get your heart pumping for some workouts each week, but lower intensity movement also can benefit you. A 15-minute walk during a work break that helps you meet your daily activity goal also can reinvigorate you and boost productivity.

Finally, we arrive at zero, which stands for no sugary drinks. That’s right — none, nada, zilch. Added sugar is lurking everywhere in our diet. Eliminate this one source of the sweet stuff and the only thing you’ll really be missing is the extra empty calories.

Stop the soda, energy drinks, lemonade, sweet tea, sports drinks and coffee drinks with sugar or flavored syrups. Replace them with lower or no-calorie options such as water, seltzer, unsweetened tea with lemon or low-fat milk.

Follow the numbers 5210 to a smaller waistline and better health. You don’t have to be a trailblazer or super athlete. But you do have to take the first steps and keep on going. Here’s to a healthier you!

Heather Rose is a wellness specialist at Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at heather.rose@yvmc.org.

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