This week, April 7 – 11, 2014, is National Public Health Week. It’s an opportunity to recognize the contributions of the many organizations that work towards healthy communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention. Their ultimate goal: the improved health and well-being of people in local communities and around the globe. That’s no small feat!
Organizers of this year’s National Public Health Week have created a series of daily topics to encourage everyone to take an active role in public health. Here’s a look at your day-by-day guide to National Public Health Week with our own cancer-focused twist.
Monday: Be healthy from the start. The first steps toward a healthy community start at home, and there are so many ways to build health into your lifestyle. Getting the proper nutrition to fight obesity and help prevent cancer is a great start. Consider the Mediterranean diet, recommended by Integrative Oncology Essentials founder and radiation oncologist Dr. Brian Lawenda. Incorporate exercise into your evening tv watching by doing short bursts of exercise during commercial breaks or taking a walk after dinner. And be sure to test your house for radon, exposure to which is a risk factor for lung cancer.
Tuesday: Don’t panic. (Ok, this one doesn’t tie in to cancer, but it’s still important.) Be prepared for an emergency by keeping a 3-day or more supply of food and water on hand. Also have a family meeting to discuss emergency plans in case of fire, flood, earthquake or other unexpected event. Keep your health in mind by ensuring you have an adequate supply of your prescribed medications on hand and get a flu shot to prevent illness.
Wednesday: Get out ahead. When it comes to cancer, prevention, screening and early detection saves lives. According to the American Cancer Society, more than half of all cancer deaths could be prevented by making healthy choices such as not smoking, staying at a healthy weight, eating right, keeping active and getting recommended screening tests. We’ll add to that list with a reminder to be sun safe and wear sunscreen. Know the cancer screening guidelines for your age and gender (available here for men and women) and be sure to keep up to date with each. For adolescents, be sure to get them the HPV immunization to help prevent cervical cancer as well.
Thursday: Eat well. We touched on this already, but it bears repeating. Eating right and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent many types of cancer as well as heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Aim for more fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like nuts, avocado and olive oil, legumes and high fiber grains, and lean proteins. We can’t wait for farmer’s market season!
Friday: Be the healthiest nation in one generation. For the first time in decades, the current generation isn’t as healthy as the one that came before. Communities need to band together to take a stance against this disturbing trend to make sure that children and young adults have bright, healthy futures. How can you encourage better health in your family, workplace, school or community?
Now, go out and do it!