Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Dare to Care: A Healthy Start to 2016

Nobody’s perfect: we all have plenty of things we could do to improve our day-to-day lives and overall health. So why not take the new year to start improving? Sure, it’s a little cliché, but if you keep the improvements going past January, haven’t you technically beaten the cliché?

That’s what ExpressACAForms is here to challenge you to do: follow these 5 simple steps for a healthier you in 2016. Make the Affordable Care Act as unnecessary as some people claim it is by being so healthy that you don’t even need that health insurance you’re now required to have!

The CDC has announced that insufficient sleep is a public health problem. Across all ages, it’s been found that Americans aren’t getting enough good sleep to function at our best everyday. When this happens, not only does our work suffer, our health suffers. A Norwegian study found that the risk of a heart attack and other cardiovascular diseases can increase anywhere from 27%-45% if you’re getting too poor or too little sleep.
  • Start Healthy: In 2016, try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Try also getting into the good sleep habits of going to bed at the same time each night and avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime.

Diet Before Exercise
One of the keys to a healthy lifestyle is the balance between a good diet and sufficient exercise. However, taking on an entirely new diet with a new fitness regime can shock the system and send you reeling back to the couch and your Oreos. 
  • Start Healthy: In 2016, focus on improving your diet without over thinking it: add some fruits and veggies here, cut back on dessert and processed foods there. When you start seeing results, start moving more (you’ll have the energy to!) but make sure to keep that healthy eating going too.

Drink More
Water. Drink more water, and drink more tea. Staying hydrated helps keep you full, energized, and focused, and helps boost the immune system. Tea has been regarded for thousands of years as a key to good health, and research today helps support this. Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and mental alertness.
  • Start Healthy: In 2016, focus on making water and tea your default drinks. Instead of reaching for a soda, focus on increasing your water and tea intake. Drinking water and tea can help cut craving, making it easier to stick to your goal to get healthier.

Quit Smoking
If you need a sign, here it is. By this point, we’re sure you’ve heard the dangers of smoking and how quitting can add up to 14 years onto your life. And while this one’s definitely the hardest on our list, the beneficial effects start to set in almost immediately. After:
  • 20 minutes: heart rate drops toward normal levels
  • 2 hours: heart rate and blood pressure decrease to near normal levels
  • 12 hours: carbon monoxide levels decrease and blood oxygen levels increase to normal
  • 48 hours: nerve endings start to regrow, enhancing smell and taste
  • 3 days: the nicotine will be completely out of the body
    • Unfortunately, this means withdrawal symptoms will peak around this time. Check out this post on managing nicotine withdrawal if it gets to be too much.
  • 2-3 weeks: circulation and lung function improve greatly
  • 1-9 months: the lungs will begin to repair themselves and function properly again
  • 1 year: risk for heart disease is lowered by 50% compared to smokers
  • 5 years: risk for stroke lowers to that of non-smokers
  • 10 years: risk of lung cancer decreases to half that of a smoker’s; risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, and pancreas also significantly decrease
  • 15 years: risk of heart disease is back to the same level as non-smokers
  • Start Healthy: In 2016, commit to smoking fewer cigarettes. Remember: baby steps. Which brings us to...

Start Small
A big reason a lot of resolutions don’t work out is because people try to make too big of a change at one time. As humans, we’re just not programmed for that. We’ve tried to compile a list of easy ways to get healthy in 2016 so you might be able to take them all on. But that doesn’t mean you have to make all of these changes all at once (or even make them at all). So even if the only change you make until June is to commit to getting a full night’s sleep every night, that’s improvement.
  • Start Healthy: Make one small change and then another. You’ll get used to each change until it becomes your new normal. And when you look back and see how far you’ve come through small steps, you’ll be glad you abided by that old cliché about this new you.

For more tips on getting healthy in the new year, check out ExpressACAForms's sister programs, Healing Radius and communEATi! And for help with your ACA forms and information returns, give us a call at 704-839-2270, or visit our site at

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