Health: It Takes a Team
Editor's Note: This guest post is written by by Nancy C. Lee, MD, deputy assistant secretary of health - women's health, and director of the office on women's health at the Department of Health and Human Services and Ana N. Fadich, MPH, CHES, vice president, men's health network.
Each year we ask women and men to take two weeks out of their routines to make their health a priority. In May, we ask women to take small steps to improve their health during National Women's Health Week (NWHW) (May 10-16). In June, Men's Health Week (MHW) encourages men to get regular preventive care (June 15-21). With NWHW behind us and now that we are in the middle of MHW, it's a great time to talk about how we can all team up for better health the other 50 weeks of the year!
We know that the healthiest decisions aren't always the easiest ones to make. But with support and encouragement from the people we love - particularly our partners and families - making smarter choices is easier. Let's make focusing on healthy behaviors and prevention a team effort.
Now's the time to team up with your partner to meet your health goals together. If you are not married, partner with a family member, friend, or coworker! Having someone else who is committed to the same things will make it easier for both of you to stick to a healthier lifestyle. Here are some small changes you can make today:
- Move more - together.Try changing the way you think about exercise. See it as quality time you can spend with your partner, kids, friends, or coworkers. Getting active with others is a lot more fun than slogging through a workout alone, so it's easier to stick with it. Need ideas? Take up a new sport, play tag with your kids at the playground, or take a brisk walk at lunchtime with your coworker. Having someone else to get moving with also makes motivation a little easier. You can hold each other accountable, and celebrate your achievements together.
- Experience the joys of cooking.Interested in saving money and eating healthier? Start cooking at home more often, and have your family help with the shopping, menu planning, and prep work. When you're the chef, you choose how big your portions are and know exactly what goes into your meals - both of which are important to weight management. Spice things up by trying new recipes and flavors at least once a month.
- Sync your annual checkups.Make sure you and you partner both get your annual checkups by scheduling your appointments at the same time, for the same day. If you both aim for a late-morning visit, you can pack a lunch and have a picnic together afterward. Over lunch, talk about how you can help each other reach your health goals.
That last one may feel a little strange at first. After all, we're used to the idea of exercising or eating with other people, but going to the doctor? There are benefits, though! If you're someone who feels anxious around doctors, knowing your partner is doing the same thing can give you much-needed support. If you have a hard time remembering what your doctor told you to do, talking it over with your partner afterward can help you keep track of the information. All women and men - even if they feel fine - need to receive routine care. Your annual checkup is a time to talk with your provider about how you're doing, how you'd like to be doing, and what changes you can make to reach your health goals. It's also a time to get preventive services and screenings. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health plans must cover a set of preventive services at no cost to you, even if you haven't met your yearly deductible. For a complete list of covered services for adults, visit http://www.healthcare.gov/.
When you and your partner take steps for good health, not only are you helping each other stay healthy for the long-haul, but you're setting a positive example for your kids. It shows them that health is important and it's okay to talk about it. In fact, you should talk about it. Build an open line of communication with your kids, and help them feel comfortable coming to you with questions about their health. It's time we made health a family affair this week and every week. When you're healthy and happy, everyone wins!