Here are a few things you can do to start taking charge of your health:
Approximately 40% of all premature deaths in the U.S. are due to unhealthy choices such as tobacco use, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, misuse of alcohol and drugs, and failure to use safety equipment.
The best way to have a healthy lifestyle is something you already know: make good decisions. Which of these healthy choices have you already made?
Healthy Lifestyle Checklist (Print) 
Do you follow most of these guidelines? If so, congratulations: You are taking personal responsibility for your own health and wellbeing  and decreasing your risk of developing disease! If not, think about how you could become more intentional in your health and change behaviors to increase your chances of living healthier and longer.
Learn more about creating a healthy lifestyle. 
Note also that most integrative therapies  include treatments or practices that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. For example, meditation  and biofeedback  offer techniques to master stress and hypnosis can be helpful in smoking cessation. See Explore Healing Practices. 
It’s your right and responsibility to be informed about your healthcare, including:
Many of us grew up with the idea that the doctor knows best, and we needed to follow medical orders, no questions asked. Today, more and more people are looking for a different kind of relationship with their healthcare provider, whether that provider is a physician, nurse practitioner, or integrative therapy professional.
Instead of acting as a passive recipient, many people now see themselves as active participants in the purchase and application of healthcare. They are selecting skilled professionals to be part of their healthcare team, and they want to partner with these providers.
It is important to recognize that this new partnership model of care requires a change in both you and your healthcare provider. If you have expectations of an equal relationship, you must communicate this to your provider. Open communication and collaboration with your provider requires you to participate fully in the process.
While you need to take charge, it doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. We all need help sometimes, especially when it comes to the often-dizzying array of choices in the medical arena. Here are a few ideas.
Apart from maintaining a healthy lifestyle, your main role is to become informed about your healthcare options and involved in your own care. Other sections in this topic will give you help in this—offering tips on finding and communicating with providers, evaluating healthcare information, and having a healthy hospitalization.
Creagan, Edward T. (Mayo Clinic physician) (2003). How NOT to Be My Patient. Florida: Health Communications, Inc.
CDC. Physical activity and health: Report of the Surgeon General (1996). Atlanta, Georgia: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC.
McCullough, M. L. et al. (2002). Diet, quality, and major chronic disease risk in men and women: Moving toward improved dietary guidance. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , 76, 1261-71.
Raya, Patricia and Mogenis, Corine A. (2008). Medical Tips from the Inside. Jupiter, Flor.: Merit Publishing International.
For more information on creating a healthy lifestyle, visit our Enhance your wellbeing  section.
For information about integrative therapies , try the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine  (NCCAM).
For more information on being a prepared patient, check out The Center for Advancing Health (CFAH): Be a Prepared Patient .
How much do you already know about taking charge of your health?
Print out the checklist  below and fill it out to help identify where you are already well-informed and where you might want to get more information.
|How much do I know about:||Very|
|Healthy lifestyle choices|
|My options for primary providers|
|My primary provider’s philosophy of care|
|My options for specialists (oncologists, gastroenterologists, etc)|
|My options for hospitals|
|Information about my condition or diagnosis (if relevant)|
|My treatment options|
|My healthcare coverage (for clinic visits, medications, physical therapy, diagnostic tests, procedures, lifetime limits)|
|Who acts as advocates for healthcare consumers|