There are more than 40 million Americans over the age of 65, and that number is only going to increase over time. It’s important to learn about heath at any age, whether you’re relying on mobility aids or not, but it becomes even more critical as you get older.
If you’re unsure about the importance or benefits that come when you learn about health, then this article is for you. Here we’ll discuss all the reasons why you should learn about health, and we’ll also go over some important tips for improving your health starting right now.
Why It’s Important to Learn About Health
Before we share some valuable health advice to help you feel better and live longer, let’s go over the reasons why it’s so important to learn about health.
Understand Your Doctor Better
It doesn’t matter whether you’re seeing a joint preservation specialist or a general physician: when you don’t understand the basics of healthy living, understanding and following your doctor’s instructions can be more difficult. A lack of health literacy is frequently cited as a major reason why patients fail to follow their doctors’ orders. It makes sense: if you don’t understand your doctor’s instructions or why they matter, then the logical thing to do might seem to be to not follow them.
This problem is made even worse when you’re too embarrassed to admit you don’t understand what your doctor is trying to tell you, or when they’re too rushed and busy to explain everything adequately. Healthcare workers like oral surgeons have a lot on their plates, and patients can interpret their occasional hurriedness to mean that they don’t have time for them. Even though any doctor would be glad to answer a patient’s questions — after all, that’s their job — that doesn’t mean the patient always feels at liberty to ask. Sometimes the patient won’t even understand the situation well enough to formulate a good question. Learning the basics of health and medicine will ensure that you can have confident conversations with your doctor.
Keep Up With Evolving Science
Many people think of science, including health science, to be infallible: what’s true today is certain to be true ten years from now. But that simply isn’t the case. Science is constantly evolving as people discover new things about the world, from cancer treatments to broad spectrum CBD oil. If the last time you seriously studied health was 20 years ago in high school, chances are you’re trying to operate with a lot of outdated ideas.
Even experts like doctors and nurses have to stay on top of changes in medical science. To enjoy the best quality of life possible, it’s important that you continue to learn about health as well.
Make Better Daily Decisions
Good health literacy has impacts far beyond being able to understand your doctor’s instructions. If you’re like most people, you probably only see your doctor once or twice a year, unless you require serious care, like cosmetic dental surgery. But you make hundreds of health-impacting decisions every week, and even every day. You choose whether to get up early and exercise, or to sleep in; whether to drink a can of soda or choose water or sugar-free coffee instead; whether to buckle up or take your chances; and even whether or not to try and give up smoking.
If you’ve been learning about health on a regular basis, you’ll be more likely to make the right decisions. It’s not just about knowing which decision is better — everyone knows, deep down, and soda and smoking are bad for their health — but because you continue to learn about health regularly, you’ll be more likely to actually remember why the good decisions are important. Knowing abstractly that smoking is bad isn’t particularly motivating to quit, but knowing about the real risks of lung cancer and the complications involved can make you think twice about it.
Knowing How to Stay Healthy Is Part of Knowing How to Succeed
Everyone has a dream they would like to accomplish within their lifetime. Some people want to become famous artists or athletes. Others want to finish a book. And some have a dream to simply find a significant other to surprise with flower delivery services and spend the rest of their lives with.
You don’t have to be motivated by wealth or fame to have a goal worth living for. But any meaningful goal takes dedication and effort to accomplish, and that requires energy and focus. If you’re in excellent health, it will be much easier for you to put in the work necessary to reach your goal. But if you’re tired from a lack of sleep or dealing with brain fog from a bad diet, accomplishing anything at all will be a miracle. That’s why learning about health is a key part of learning how to succeed in life: without good health, any goal you might like to achieve will be harder to reach.
Enjoy Life More
Maybe you aren’t really motivated by long-term goals, and you care more about enjoying life in the moment. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach to life, many people mistakenly use it as an excuse to indulge in unhealthy habits. After all, if eating that sugary treat would help you enjoy the moment more, isn’t that what counts?
While this may make sense in the moment, you can’t justifiably ignore the long-term repercussions of living that way. Staying up all night partying might be enjoyable now, but will it be worth the weekend-long hangover that follows? Will it be worth the long-term consequences to your health if you do it every week? Just like neglecting to call an AC repair service to inspect your air conditioner every spring, neglecting your body in this way can only lead to costly and inconvenient trouble.
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to an occasional dessert or even a party, but if these types of behaviors become a part of your weekly routine, you’ll end up enjoying life less, not more. With poorer health, you’ll feel less energized and motivated every day, which will make work increasingly difficult. In the end, those activities that used to bring you pleasure will become nothing more than ways to escape from the harsh reality of living with bad health, becoming a vicious cycle.
Of course, simply knowing about good health habits won’t automatically make you healthy. But again, continuing to learn about health as you get older will help you stay mindful of the impact your choices have, and motivate you to make better decisions. By working out, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep, you’ll end up feeling dramatically better than you would without these habits. As a direct result, you’ll be able to enjoy life more, from your work to your family to the occasional party with your friends.
Top Tips for a Healthy Life
Now that you’ve learned why it’s so important to learn about health, it’s time to actually begin learning. Besides having a good health insurance company, the following tips are all essential to being responsible for your health.
Reframe the Way You Approach Diet
For most people, “diet” is a dirty word. At the very least, it certainly doesn’t make one think of enjoying their food or lifestyle. Most of the time, watching what you eat is only something you do when you want to lose weight.
However, that’s a rather self-defeating way to approach healthy eating. Dieting to lose weight is too often connected with feelings of guilt, obligation, and insecurity. No wonder most diets don’t last very long for most people. It’s simply no way to live.
Instead, use other reasons to motivate yourself to eat well. Instead of trying to achieve the perfect swimsuit body (which can lead to a lot of stress, not to mention self-loathing), remember that eating well will help you feel better. When you eat unhealthy foods, you fail to get all the nutrients you need, while simultaneously filling up on toxins and fats that aren’t helpful to your body. This leads directly to feelings associated with poor health, such as:
- Frequent hunger
Obviously no one wants to have these experiences as a part of their everyday life. But for people who don’t eat well, these are common sensations, although they might not realize it if they’ve never sustained a healthy diet. Once you begin eating well, you might be surprised by how much better you feel, as pains, cravings, and mood swings that you didn’t used to think about gradually disappear.
Of course, no one can tell you for sure how your body will respond to a proper diet. But you can be sure you’ll feel better, get sick less often, and have a better chance of living a long, full life. By reminding yourself that how you eat right now will partly determine how you feel in a few days, and even in a few hours, you should be able to motivate yourself to maintain a good diet. You might even achieve your ultimate weight loss goals while you’re at it.
Make Sleep a Priority
The quality and amount of sleep you get has a significant impact on your overall wellbeing. Without adequate sleep, you’ll probably be less productive, less mentally short, and more prone to stress.
Unfortunately, many people see sleep as an inconvenience, as if it’s some sort of necessary evil that eats away at their time. While this might be the case if you’re oversleeping, it is not a healthy way to approach sleep in general. Just like you need good nutrition, you need plenty of healthy rest to function at your best. Those effects we described of having a poor diet can also impact you if you don’t get enough sleep. If you gave yourself nine hours to sleep one night, you might find that you’re so productive and energized the next day that it completely made up for the extra hour or two you spent in bed.
That being said, it’s important to note that “adequate sleep” is different for each person. Like an eye care center will prescribe different lenses for people with different levels of vision loss, a sleep doctor might prescribe nine hours of sleep to one person and just seven hours to another. On average, most people need between seven and eight hours, but others’ needs vary. It’s a good idea to experiment until you find the amount of sleep that seems to work best for you.
Get Into a Healthy Workout Routine
When you go to learn about health, chances are the subject that comes up the most will be exercise. And there’s a good reason for that: in addition to healthy rest and nutrition, the body needs sufficient daily activity to perform at its best. In today’s culture, most of our time is spent sitting at desks, or walking briefly between work areas at most. Unless you work on a farm or you’re a professional athlete, you probably don’t get enough physical activity each day.
Unfortunately, many people also find exercise completely unenjoyable, at least when they first start out. Working out can be physically painful and psychologically demanding, and some people react to this more strongly than others. To build an exercise habit that lasts, it’s important to start with something you’re comfortable with, and pursue a form of activity that you enjoy.
If you lead a very sedentary life, it might be a big accomplishment for you to walk throughout your local park every day. It may not be an intense workout, but if it’s something you can count on yourself to do consistently, it’s far better than nothing.
Some people find low-intensity workouts to be less difficult and painful than activities like running and strength training. Yoga, Pilates, and swimming are some examples of workouts that don’t necessarily feel like work.
On the other hand, activities like dancing and rock climbing can be very intense, but the music and environment can help distract you from the physical demands so that they feel more fun. Running on a treadmill can be kind of boring, which places all your attention on the physical exertion required. But hiking through the woods can feel more like an adventure, taking your mind off of the work your body is putting in. Just be careful that you don’t overdo it. Fortunately, if you ever were to get injured on a hike, reconstructive services exist to make bones and more look good as new.
When it comes to working out, you’ll have a lot to learn about health and different types of exercise. The key is to find something that works for you, and try to make it a habit.
From having better conversations with your doctor to being more focused and getting more done, these are just some of the reasons you should learn about health, no matter your age. Hopefully, by now you’ve found the inspiration you needed to get your health on track.