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Healthy habits today can prepare your body for the long haul

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Canadians’ health in many different ways. Our daily routines have been altered and, with it, habits – good or bad – may have been augmented due to these changes in our routines.

Maintaining the overall health of our body is similar to that of a car; how we treat and care for it now will have a lasting impact on how it performs down the road in the years to come.

It’s important to take care of yourself now and after the pandemic. Here are some tips:

Fuel your tank – eat right for you

The food we eat plays a big part in our overall health and how we feel throughout the day. The choices we make by what we put on our plate and in our glass today goes a long way to feeling our best tomorrow. The Government of Canada’s food guide is a handy resource that explores healthy food choices, good eating habits and more, such as:

  • Drink water. Avoid drinks like soda pop and juice whenever possible as these beverages contain a lot of calories, sodium, sugars and saturated fat. If you do drink a glass of juice, consider a small size or adding water to reduce the concentration of the juice.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your meals and snacks. Try making half of your plate vegetables and fruits.
  • Eat protein foods, including plant-based protein foods, are an important part of healthy eating. Include foods such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, lean meats and poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, lower fat milk and lower fat dairy products.
  • Choose whole grains. Whole grain foods are a healthier choice than refined grains because they include all parts of the grain. Refined grains have some parts of the grain removed during processing.

Read more: Kids’ nutrition is nutrition for life

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Hit the open road – exercise your body and your mind

The human body was built for movement. It’s essential to challenge yourself with an activity that you enjoy. Whether it’s aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, dancing and cycling or muscle and bone-strengthening exercises using weights or resistance bands, regular exercise significantly lowers the risk of diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and will help you maintain your mobility longer. It’s also proven to lower stress and improve sleep, skin, bone health and mood. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends:

  • Infants (less than 1 year) should be physically active several times daily – particularly through interactive floor-based play.
  • Toddlers (1 to 2 years) and preschoolers (3 to 4 years) should accumulate at least 180 minutes of physical activity at any intensity spread throughout the day.
  • Children (5 to 11 years) and youth (12 to 17 years) should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intense physical activity daily.
  • Adults (18 to 64 years) and seniors (65+) should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to-vigorous intense aerobic physical activity per week, in stretches of 10 minutes or more.

Read more: Helping your teenage kids get off the couch

Watch: My mother is elderly and lives on her own. How can I help her lead an active healthy life?

Regular Maintenance – doctor and dentist checkups

Checking in regularly (as recommended by your doctor and dentist) can go a long way in the prevention and early detection of health problems.

An annual physical with screening tests, as necessary, based on your age, lifestyle, family history and any existing conditions can help your doctor identify a potential issue, make an early diagnosis, treat and further monitor your overall health.

Routine dentist visits will make sure you not only have a great smile but can help prevent hidden threats to your oral health that can lead to severe pain, loss of teeth and serious health implications such as gum disease, root cavities and infections and oral cancer. Regular flossing, brushing and rinsing with mouthwash will help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Read more: You are your best health advocate

By taking a little extra care to eat well, exercise and regularly visit your doctor and dentist for checkups, you can help to ensure that you’ll be ready for a healthier journey for the road ahead.

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