5 Steps to Healthy Living

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Published: April 2, 2014

Health + Wellness

If taking control of your health seems like a daunting task, fear not. There is a lot you can do to help improve your own health and wellness. With a little know-how and commitment, health improvements are attainable.

Spiritual wellness, annual check-ups, diet and exercise, stress reduction and enjoying life are five critical steps to overall health. Dr. Michael Etomi, president of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA), said these steps “go to the core of what health is all about.” Follow the steps provided in this article to help reduce your need to visit the doctor’s office due to illness and to increase the likelihood of feeling, looking and living good.

Step 1—Spiritual Wellness

A great starting point to achieve overall health and wellness is fine tuning your spirituality. Often times, pain in the body affects our ability to think clearly, and the inability to think clearly affects the ability to listen to your spiritual self, said Rev. Akinyemi Richard Adegbayi, founder and CEO of Adegbayi International Ministries (AIM), based in Iriving, Texas, U.S.

Access to your spiritual self enables spiritual discernment—the ability to understand situations beyond your personal intellect or common sense. Therefore, discernment is an asset you definitely want fine-tuned and active in your life.

“To have a healthy spiritual base, you must have a healthy physical base,” said Adegbayi.  “Your soul has to be healthy to listen to your spiritual man.  The reason it cannot listen is because your physical man is not healthy,” said Adegbayi.

Step 2—Annual Check-up

The Nigerian Medical Association urges all Nigerians to go to the doctor for regular medical check-ups. Check-ups are great to establish health baselines and for early detection of health maladies. Early detection increases the likelihood that treatment for illness will be successful.

An annual check-up can be brief or thorough depending upon your physician, age and other factors. However, there are many exams that your physician can include in your annual check-up:

  • Family History—Tell the physician about the health history of your family as best you know it.
  • Vital Signs Check—Expect to have your blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature checked.
  • Heart/Lung Exam—A stethoscope will be utilized by the physician to listen for symptoms of heart or lung disease.
  • Head/Neck Exam—A wide open mouth will enable your physician to examine you throat, teeth and gums to assess your health. Your ears, nose and eyes are a part of the head examination.
  • Extremities Exam—Arms, legs and joints are checked for physical fitness and abnormalities.

Dr. Michael Etomi also recommended several other types of medical check-ups to keep our entire family healthy:

  • Eye Exams—At least every two years to test for glaucoma
  • Dental health—Annual dental checks to screen for tooth decay and gum disease
  • Childhood immunizations
  • Mental health—Depression can be debilitating; have loved ones screened for mental health

Step 3—Diet & Exercise

“As much as possible reduce the amount of fast food that you eat,” said Etomi, MD, who specializes in internal medicine and nephrology (diseases of the kidneys). “Go back to the traditional way of preparing food—roughage, protein, and fat. We’re likely to reverse the trend of non-communicable diseases.”

Thirty minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week is the key to wellness.

“Brisk walking will help you to prevent most of the maladies that affect us,” said Dr. Patrick Evivie, who is also a member of ANPA. “A lot of people think that because they walk a lot at work that is enough. Moderate exercise needs to be above and beyond that. It is important.”

However, the physicians are aware of the challenges that globalization present in maintaining healthy lifestyle choices.

“In the days when we grew up in Nigeria, in both the cities and the villages, you could walk to different places, there were no cars,” said Etomi.

Yet, Etomi offered practical solutions to urban sprawl.

“The influx of gyms is coming up,” he said. “Gyms are expensive. For moderate income, use your stairways at home at your own pace. If you have a small yard, walk around your yard. There are things that you can do for yourself. Make it a point of importance to use what you have, instead of giving up completely.”

Participating in active sports is an excellent option for exercise, too, said Evivie, MD, who specializes in internal medicine and diabetic management.

Step 4—Stress Reduction

“Stress reduction, without a doubt, plays a role in preventing and curing diseases,” said Evivie. “It builds up the immune system. It affects your ability to have a good night’s rest.  When you do yoga [for instance], you help your immune system. You enhance your ability to handle any illness that befalls you.”

Stress reduction is essential to maintain your body in optimal condition, and rest is a key to stress reduction.

“Stress hormones are bad for the body,” said Etomi. “God designed us to sleep to rebuild our system. Sleep does such a magnificent job of rebuilding the immune system’s balance. When you reduce the stress, you increase non-stress hormones, like endorphins. Exercise, rest increases endorphins.”

Etomi also warned about stressors that are introduced into our families’ everyday lives.

“Do not underestimate the power of the Internet and the modern day gadgets like cell phones” he said. “Whether it is Facebook or Twitter or video games, you do not know who is stressing or abusing our children on there. Be extremely careful when you buy your children all of these new technologies. It becomes mentally unhealthy and stresses the children.”

“It depends upon your setting; you have to deal with stress factors. The most important thing is to deal with it or walk away. Stress can come at home, work or school for the children. Relate to the people that make you happy, walk away from those who are a blemish or bring negative energy.”

Step 5—Enjoy Life

It doesn’t seem that we would have to remind readers to enjoy life; however, sometimes dealing with all of the challenges that life brings can dampen the desire to celebrate life. Take one day at a time, and remember when life seems to be at its absolute worst, it can only get better from there.

Drs. Evivie and Etomi offered other advice to enjoy a healthy life.“Try to stay away from negative energy, and attract positive energy,” said Evivie.

Etomi reiterated medical advice and offered some practical suggestions for enjoying life.

“Sleep well; get good rest; take your vitamins,” said Etomi. “Do things that you enjoy—read, go to movies, mentally stimulate yourself.”

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About Tremene Triplett

Tremene Triplett is a freelance journalist passionate about the written word. She wrote her first book at age seven, and later pursued her God-given gift to earn a master’s in print journalism from the University of Miami. She has written for a variety of local, regional and national magazines, newspapers and online outlets. Treméne enjoys writing health and wellness, travel and life enrichment pieces. Treméne also co-owns a public health consulting firm and treasures loving her son and family.

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