10 Ways to Stay Healthy

Staying fit and active can have a very positive impact on your overall health. According to, “Less than 5% of American adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.” On top of that “typical American diets exceed the recommended intake levels or limits in four categories: calories from solid fats and added sugars; refined grains; sodium; and saturated fat. Americans eat less than the recommended amounts of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, dairy products, and oils.Dr. Shelley Roque from SIMED’s Primary Care wants you to stay healthy. She put together this list of 10 ways to help you stay fit, healthy and improve your quality of living.

1) Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are your friends!

Try to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and make at least half of all grains whole grains (100% whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole grain cereal) instead of refined grains (white bread, white rice, refined or sweetened cereals).

2) Avoid overeating.

Try to eat slowly with smaller portions. Drinking a glass of water before meals helps to fill the stomach and decrease the time it takes when eating to no longer feel hungry.

3) Avoid sugary drinks and excessive alcohol intake.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with increased weight gain. Drink water instead! If you do drink alcohol, try to drink in moderation. No more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two drinks per day for men.

4) Stop smoking!

If you need help, reach out to your doctor, or you can visit Tobacco Free Florida.

5) Cut down on unhealthy fats

Consume more healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat) and minimize the unhealthy fats (Trans-and saturated fats). How can you do this?

  • If you eat meat, choose lean proteins, such as chicken and fish, instead of red meats. Legumes (alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, and tamarind) are another source of lean proteins.
  • Cook with corn, olive, or peanut oil.
  • If you do decide to eat prepared or processed foods, choose those labeled “zero trans-fat”, which may still have some trans-fat but likely less than similar choices not labeled “zero.”

6) Keep calorie intake balanced with your needs and activity level.

If you are exercising you will need more calorie intake to fuel that energy. However, if you are not very active, you should try to decrease your calorie intake. You can visit National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases for more information on personalized calorie intake goals.

7) Get moving!

Exercise can help improve blood sugar control, decrease blood pressure, improve cholesterol, reduce stress, improve circulation, quit smoking, and decrease the risk of death. Some evidence even suggests that exercise may protect against breast and prostate cancer, delay or prevent dementia, and decrease the risk of gallstone disease.

  • If you normally don’t exercise much, start exercising for a few minutes at a low intensity, such as taking a long walk. Set reasonable goals! So if you think you will really only walk, for instance, 10 minutes once or twice a week, just walk those 10 minutes. Exercising one or two days a week is better than not exercising at all.
  • Then as your physical fitness improves, slowly begin to exercise harder, more frequently, or for a longer time. Exercise does not have to be continuous, since you can still get health benefits if exercise is broken up into three or four 10-minute sessions a day.
  • A good goal is trying to get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. The American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week for those that would benefit from lowering blood pressure or cholesterol.

Most people do not need any special testing before starting to exercise, but you should check your doctor if you are not sure. People with diabetes or multiple risk factors for heart disease may need an exercise test before starting an exercise program.

8) Zzzzzzzzzz!

Sleep plays an important role in your health. While you are asleep your brain is forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Studies show sleep deficiency alters activity in some parts of the brain, and you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling emotions and behavior, and coping with change. So ensuring proper sleep hygiene is important. If you have trouble sleeping, here are some things that may help:

  • Sleep only long enough to feel rested and then get out of bed
  • Try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day
  • Consume caffeinated foods/drinks only in the morning
  • Avoid alcohol in the late afternoon, evening, and bedtime
  • Avoid smoking, especially in the evening
  • Keep your bedroom dark, cool, quiet, and free of reminders of work or other things that may cause stress If possible, solve problems you have before you go to bed
  • Exercise several days a week, but not right before bed
  • Avoid looking at phones or reading devices that give off light before bed

If you still have problems despite good sleep hygiene, you should talk to your doctor to see if there may be other causes of your sleep deprivation. We have a sleep clinic at SIMED for patients that require further evaluation of sleep issues.

9) Mental health is important too!

The stress of everyday life can definitely affect our mood and motivation to live a healthier lifestyle. So it is important to make sure you take care of your mental health as well. Take some time for yourself to relax, whether it’s through meditation, relaxation techniques, counseling, exercise, yoga, laughing with a friend, reading, spiritual outlets, playing with a pet, listening to music, gardening, dancing or drawing. Basically find out what works for you, but make sure you avoid any negative coping skills (such as avoiding problems, drugs, alcohol, etc). Just like with any other medical condition, if you have a mental health disorder (depression, anxiety, etc), make sure to follow up routinely with your physician as well.

10) Develop a relationship with your healthcare team!

We work to try to keep our patients as healthy as possible. Of course there are medical illnesses that are unavoidable, but we will try our best to prevent or detect early health issues through routine check-ups, screening, and immunizations. We are here for you!

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with Dr. Shelley Roque or any of our Primary Care physicians to discuss healthy living at any of our locations including Gainesville, Ocala, Chiefland, and Lady Lake (The Villages); you can visit our SIMED Primary Care page or click here to request an appointment online.