As we age, our bodies change, becoming more susceptible to diseases and health problems. However, some risk factors can be modified with lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of developing a serious health condition.
Modifiable risk factors are those that we can change or control. For example, we can control our blood pressure by making lifestyle changes and taking medication. Here are four modifiable risk factors in adults.
Smoking is one of the most important modifiable risk factors for various chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and respiratory diseases. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
If you’re having a hard time quitting, here are things you can do:
- Talk to your doctor about medications that can help you quit
- Join a smoking cessation program
- Get support from family and friends
- Avoid triggers, such as places where people smoke or being around smokers
Smoking also has effects on your dental health. It may lead to gum disease, tooth loss, staining of your teeth, and even oral cancer. Visiting your dentist can help you identify the early signs of tobacco use and make a plan to quit. It will also be a great time to get your teeth cleaned and checked for other problems.
A healthy diet is important for maintaining a healthy weight, reducing the likelihood of developing chronic diseases, and staying energized throughout the day. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help reduce your risks of developing obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Start with small changes if this is your first time trying a healthy diet. If you’re used to eating unhealthy foods, switching to a healthier diet can be hard overnight. Start by making small changes, such as swapping sugary drinks for water or adding a side of veggies to your meals. It is also helpful to gradually add more healthy foods. You can add more as you get used to eating more healthy foods. For example, add a serving of fruit to your breakfast or lunch or swap your usual white bread for whole wheat.
Preparing and cooking your meal at home can help you control your portion size and make healthier choices. If you’re eating out, choose restaurants that serve healthy options. Choose grilled or baked items instead of fried, and ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
Physical activity is important in maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress levels, improving sleep quality, and boosting energy levels. Adults aged 18-64 should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
Going to the gym is one of many ways to get active. You can also do many things at home or in your community to increase your physical activity. Here are some ideas:
- Take a brisk walk in your neighborhood
- Join an exercise class at a local community center
- Ride your bike instead of driving
- Do yard work or housework
- Play with your kids or grandkids
You may need to take some precautions if you have a chronic health condition, such as heart disease or arthritis. For example, your doctor may recommend starting with a low-intensity program and gradually increasing the intensity level as your condition improves.
If you’re not used to being active, start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. Start with 10 minutes of physical activity daily and work up to 30 minutes daily.
Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have some health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to several problems, such as liver damage, high blood pressure, and an increased risk for certain types of cancer.
As we age, it’s more important to pay attention to how much we drink. For adults aged 65 and up, that means no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks a day for men. If you have any medical conditions or are taking medication, your doctor will likely advise against drinking alcohol altogether.
If you decide to quit alcohol completely, you can do the following:
- Set a goal to quit and stick to it
- Identify your triggers, such as certain people or places, and avoid them
- Find new activities to do instead of drinking, such as going for walks or attending social events
- Talk to your doctor about medications that can help you through withdrawal symptoms
- Get support from family and friends, or join a support group
Quitting alcohol can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that you’re doing it for your health. Taking small steps and setting realistic goals can help you on your journey to sobriety.
These are just four examples of modifiable risk factors in adults that can lead to serious health problems if they’re not managed properly. Talk to your doctor about other ways you can modify your risk factors and live a healthier life!