It is no mystery that the healthier you are the better you feel. Not only do you feel better, you also look better, and these positive effects transfer to every part of your day to day activities. Despite this common sense knowledge and increased prevalence of health food stores and local gyms, not everyone understands the initial steps they can take to get on the road to healthier and happier living.

  1. Understand your health and wellness risk

    Millions of Americans take medicines for many different health conditions. Many do not understand the seriousness of the health conditions being treated or the importance of the medicines that have been prescribed. This lack of understanding about health conditions is called medical illiteracy and is a significant contributor to noncompliance – or people failing to take their medicines and incorporate diet and lifestyle changes as prescribed by their healthcare providers. Chronic health problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are significant contributors to worse events such as heart attack and stroke if not appropriately managed. Even if you do not have chronic health problems, they may be prevalent in your family and you need to take extra care to prevent them and monitor for their occurrence.

    Taking charge of your health and wellness is probably the biggest investment that you can make in your lifetime.

  2. See your healthcare provider on a regular basis

    The first person, outside of yourself, to typically discover that something wrong is going on in your health is your healthcare provider. It is much more beneficial that any health problem is discovered on a routine basis and not due to an emergency because emergencies are more life-threatening. Routine visits to your healthcare provider can uncover many problems including overweight, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Routine testing to screen for chronic health conditions and certain types of cancer can also be ordered.

  3. Take medications as prescribed

    Seeing your healthcare provider on a routine basis is not enough if you do not follow the instructions that have been given once a well-being concern is identified. One of the most important steps that you can take to prevent worsening of your health is to take any medications that are prescribed. Most people will require lifetime treatment with medications for certain chronic diseases, but some will be able to eventually stop taking their medicines if strict compliance with diet and lifestyle changes can be maintained.

  4. Exercise and eat healthy foods

    The obesity epidemic that has swept America is second, only behind tobacco smoking, in preventable causes of death. Science has proven over and over again that exercise and a healthy diet are key elements in a healthy lifestyle and are the first line treatment for many chronic diseases. It is recommended that you exercise most days of the week and avoid such bad foods as sugary and salty snacks, fast food, and processed foods. Ensure that you follow any special dietary requirements prescribed by your healthcare provider to treat health conditions.

  5. Set goals and make a plan to achieve them

    Your healthcare provider should help you set health and wellness goals. These goals should address treatment of any current health conditions and prevention of future ones. Examples of these objectives include losing 10 percent of body weight, keeping blood pressure within acceptable limits, and maintaining blood sugar levels within acceptable limits. Once you have carefully identified your goals, the next step is formulating a plan to achieve them. Your plan will include the major steps that will be taken to accomplish the goal you have set. A thorough review of your wellness and health plan should occur periodically to assess your progress and make adjustments as necessary.

  6. Involve family and loved ones

    A team approach can improve the likelihood that you actively work to achieve your health & wellness goals.  Teamwork promotes adherence, accountability, and ultimately compliance. There have been noticeable improvements in general health when intensive therapy-like environments are used to treat health issues.

Taking charge of your well-being is probably the biggest investment that you can make in your lifetime. Similar to a monetary investment you can expect to get more out than you put in because improved quality and quantity of life are a priceless reward. The sooner you begin your health and wellness investment the sooner you can expect these changes to become a part of your ordinary daily routine and the sooner you can expect to reap the rewards. Remember that Rome was not built in a day and it will take a continuous commitment to your new lifestyle to reap the rewards.