Although this comes a litle late, we want to remind you that April 2nd through April 8th was designated by the American Public Health Association as National Public Health Week.  Because almost 1 million Americans die each year from diseases that could have been prevented, even small preventive changes and community initiatives can make a big difference in living healthier lives.  Here are just a few ideas from the APHA: 

Eating and Living Healthy – eating healthier and exercising regularly can go a long way toward helping Americans lessen their risk of preventable death from causes such as stroke, heart disease, and cancer.  Try eating more fruits and less fats and sugar, and also get into the habit of eating as a family.  Aim for 60 minutes per day of physical activity for children, and at least 30 minutes for adults.  Every one of us should have 30 minutes to spare for a short walk or exercise in the home. 

Preventive Care – also matters when it comes to the mind and prescription drug abuse.  Mental health and emotional well-being are focused on, as annual deaths from prescription drug abuse have quadrupled in the last decade.  The cost of preventive screenings differ, but there is advice on how to control your out of pocket expenses.  Companies may sometimes provide screenings for their employees, and this rewards those who may need some preventive care, as well as their employer, by keeping their workers healthy. 

An ounce of mental health prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Those who suffer from depression and other mental stress can be helped by screenings, as well as therapy, or some mild form of medication.  Don’t let depression get in your way of happiness.  Signs of depression may lead to suicidal thinking.  If you know someone who may appear to have this problem, encourage them to seek professional help.

Communicable Diseases – encourage everyone to wash their hands often, every time they shop, prepare food, or handle fruits, vegetables, and meats.  Also, when sneezing or coughing, cover your mouth.  Take advantage of vaccinations, such as flu shots during seasonal outbreaks.  If you become sick, stay home until you are well, in order to not expose others to your “bug”.

Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs – identify alcohol and drug use disorders early to reduce high-risk alcohol and drug consumption.  A person who has a problem with alcohol or drugs is a hazard at work, as well as to themselves. 

Reproductive and Sexual Health – Practice safe sex, encourage responsible contraception behavior and promote access to preventive health services.  

Our communities can play a vital role to encourage their citizens on how to live  healthy, active life styles.  Many 5K runs and walks are beneficial ways to be healthy (you have to train), and know that you are doing it for a worthy cause, as well.  Work with schools to add more physical activity into the school day, including additional physical education classes, before-and-after-school programs, and opening school facilities for student and family recreation in the late afternoon and evening.  Community leaders can also ensure their city parks are safe and in good repair, and have a community center that enables young people to have a safe place to go for multiple games and activities.

Good health information is available at hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities .  Pick up some of the brochures and you may be surprised at the good advice they offer on preventive health care.  Have a safe and healthy Spring and Summer.