Make Healthy Choices

Don't Smoke

If you do not smoke, congratulations! Don't start.

If you smoke, we hope that you are thinking about quitting. It is not easy giving up something that is so much a part of what you do everyday. However, the reward of a tobacco-free lifestyle is remarkable.

There are no magic solutions for quitting smoking. Nevertheless, if you are ready to quit, effective treatments are available that can help reduce the urge to smoke.

Check the websites of the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the American Heart Association for more information and existing groups.

You can also contact a smoking cessation counselor at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Assistance is available in English and Spanish at 1-877-44U-QUIT. You can also receive confidential online counseling from NCI's Cancer Information Service by visiting LiveHelp. Smokefree.gov also offers web-based tools and tips to help you kick the habit.

Use Alcohol Moderately

In 2007, 12,998 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alcohol slows the brain's ability to control the body and mind. It acts like a sedative and slows down muscle coordination, reflexes, movement, and speech. If you drink too much alcohol, your breathing or heart rate can reach dangerously low levels or even stop.

If you are of legal drinking age, remember that it is your choice whether to use alcohol or not. No one should feel pressured to drink or made to feel embarrassed because of a personal choice. Drinking alcohol should not be seen as a necessary component for having fun and being with friends. If you do choose to use alcohol, do so in moderation and know your personal limits.

If you are concerned that you might have a drinking problem, seek help. You can call the nationwide help line of the American Council on Alcoholism (800-527-5344) or look in the phone book for local resources, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. These organizations provide expert, non-judgmental support.

Evaluate your drinking habits using the CAGE assessment.

Practice Healthy and Safe Sex

According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois, healthy sex occurs when you have "CERTS," which stands for:

  • Consent - You can freely and comfortably choose whether or not to engage in sexual activity, and you are able to stop the activity at any time.
  • Equality - Your sense of personal power is on an equal level with your partner.
  • Respect - You have positive regard for yourself and for your partner, and you have mutual respect.
  • Trust - You trust your partner on both a physical and emotional level.
  • Safety - You feel secure, safe, and comfortable with where, when, and how the sexual activity takes place. You feel safe from the possibility of harm, such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection, and physical injury.

CERTS can help you feel more secure in your relationship and increase your level of self-esteem. Check this chart for more information about CERTS.

For more information on CERTS, visit McKinley Health Center.

Safe Sex

Safety is a key part of healthy sex, including protecting yourself and your partner from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Stay informed about the latest information on disease prevention and birth control by reading materials from the local heath department or reputable health education websites. Don't hesitate to talk to your provider as well.

Wendy Maltz, an internationally recognized author and sex therapist, provides a Sexual Health Risks Checklist to test your knowledge of health involved in sexual activity.

Get Enough Sleep

Did you know that:

  • 100,000 motor vehicle accidents are caused by driver drowsiness or fatigue.
  • The National Sleep Foundation estimates that sleep deprivation and sleep disorders cost Americans more than $100 billion annually in lost productivity, medical expenses, sick leave, and property and environmental damage.
  • Sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems, such as obesity, depression, high blood pressure, depression, decreased productivity, and work-related injuries?

Experts recommend that on average, adults should get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, check out the National Sleep Foundation. Its website provides a quick online quiz and recommendations for developing good sleep habits.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also offers an assessment of your sleep habits.

Drive Safely

Did you know that:

  • In 2007, there were an estimated 6,024,000 police-reported traffic crashes, in which 41,059 people were killed and 2,491,000 people were injured.
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of serious injury in the U.S.

Some common sense motor vehicle safety tips include:

  • Drive safely for the conditions.
  • Don't speed.
  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Don't drive when you are drowsy or fatigued
  • If you drive a motorcycle, ALWAYS wear a helmet

Sport and Recreational Safety

Did you know that:

  • Wearing a bicycle helmet while biking can reduce the risk of brain injury by 88%.
  • Head injury may be a factor that increases the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
  • 3,582 people drowned in 2006-that's an average of 10 drownings per day.

Recreational activities are fun. But it is important to take appropriate precautions to keep activities safe and injury free.

The following are important reminders for staying safe while you are having fun:

  • Wear a helmet while biking, skiing, snowboarding, and skateboarding-just to name a few. Make sure the fit is comfortable and snug.
  • Wear gear to protect your eyes and mouth when playing contact sports
  • Wear quality shoes designed for your sport and foot type
  • Learn to swim and always swim with a buddy
  • Avoid alcohol when boating or swimming
  • Take special precautions in extreme weather conditions
  • Stay well-hydrated