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State of Health

Three Things You Can Do To Get Healthy

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

One thing is for sure, doctors say the only way Oklahomans can truly change the state of our health, is by taking charge of their own choices.
As director of the St. John Siegfried Health Club, Ann Walton is obviously delighted when folks hit the gym.
 
"This is what it takes, and these three people come every single day, don't you?" said Ann Walton.
 
As an exercise specialist, she also knows coming to the gym isn't enough.
 
"I believe we are losing what normal should be," she said.
 
The human body was designed to move, and even if you hit the gym every day, you could still endanger your health just by sitting too much.
 
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic say modern Americans sit 13 to 15 hours a day, with lots of time spent stuck in front of a computer. The solution is simple: get up every 15 minutes or so and give your body a break.

"When you sit, your hip flexors become tight, your back gets tight.  The way you move - we're like the turtle people," Walton said. "We're turning back into the Neanderthals."

In fact, some studies show regular movement is even more important than structured exercise, and moving throughout the day will lead you directly into another important health habit - getting a good night's sleep.

Taylor Weddington is the manager of St. John Medical Center's Sleep Disorder Center. 
 
What looks like a hotel room is actually part of the Sleep Disorders Center at St. John Medical Center.  Their program is part of a booming industry designed to help some 40 million sleep-deprived Americans get a better night's rest.
 
"A lot of times people have been so tired for so long that they don't even know its a problem," Weddington said.
 
Scientists are still unraveling the mysteries of sleep, but it's increasingly clear, lack of it can affect virtually every aspect of your life.
 
"It can be associated with obesity, with depression.  It can cause sleep apnea, which if severe can be a risk factor for heart disease or strokes," said Taylor Weddington, St. John Sleep Disorder Center.
 
Lack of sleep can give you the munchies, put you at risk for Alzheimer's and costs the economy billions of dollars.  That's why you need to know about something called "sleep hygiene," a routine that gives you your best chance of getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
  
For starters, avoid the blue light that comes from your laptop or cell phone.
 
"It will actually inhibit sleep - sometimes for hours after you've seen a blue light," Weddington said.
 
Other recommendations:

  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes
  • Steer clear of food close to bedtime
  • Watch out for alcohol.  It may help you fall asleep faster, but it also makes you more likely to wake up during the night.  

 Now that you're well rested and moving, it's time to put healthy fuel into that body. The important message here is: it's OK to start small.
 
"A lot of times it just takes a lot of little steps to make really big changes," said Dietician Rachel Vincent. "So not buying the chips, not buying the soda - start just with that."
 
As a dietician, Rachel Vincent says there's nothing more important for your family's health than eating more fruits and vegetables.  As a busy mom, she has a lot of strategies to help make that goal a little easier.  
 
"I do a lot of ordering groceries online.  Just because that way there are no impulse buys and things that might not be as healthy,  and you can also stay on a budget that way," she said.
 
Vincent is also a big fan of local companies such as Local Farm OK.com that deliver fruits and and veggies right to your door.  And getting organized is key. Doing your prep work ahead of time - even freezing meals in advance - can make the difference between a healthy family meal and another night of fast food.
 
It's all about finding out what works for you.

"Absolutely. The best program for you is the one you can stick with for a lifetime," said Rachel Vincent, dietician.

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