Do you have to pick up the kids from soccer practice? That means no time
for the gym today. Your boss needs an important paper on her desk by tomorrow?
That means no time for a fresh-cooked dinner tonight. It’s so easy
for a hectic schedule to distract you from taking care of your health
on a daily basis. Errands, work, family. Running around town takes the
place of jogging. Keeping up the house takes the place of keeping up your
diet. And the resulting stress cuts into your enjoyment of the people
and things you’re doing it all for.
If that sounds familiar, you may be in need of a refresh of your health
priorities. Health is important to everybody as a general principle, but
many of us need to move from good intentions to action. That’s where a
health pledge comes in handy. A health pledge is a promise to incorporate goals for
healthier living into daily life and take the time necessary to make health
a personal priority.
Not sure if taking a health pledge will really work for you? Do you think
years of couch surfing has left you too far behind? Not true.
Hector Santiago, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, points out that
even a small promise kept can work wonders.
“I improve my game by one step at a time,” Santiago says. “I
constantly make small adjustments when I have to and repeat the ones that
work until they become habits. The result is my skills get better and
I’m a better player.” Santiago says that a basic health pledge
can work the same way. “Playing baseball has shown me that better
choices don’t have to be huge to get good results. A promise to
make simple health improvements in your daily routine and sticking to
them will pay off. You don’t have to promise to run a marathon right
off the bat. Steady dedication wins more pennants than home runs.”
As for what to include in your health pledge, be creative! Set goals that
include nutrition, physical activity, and preventive screenings. Here
are some examples to get you started:
- Pledge to walk a little more every day, take the stairs, or park further
away. Pledge to get a pedometer this weekend so you can start counting
your steps. Simple exercises like these improve mood and lower risk for
stroke and heart disease.
- Pledge to eat balanced meals with more fruits and vegetables, and less
sugar, salt, and junk food. Promise yourself to enroll in one of those
healthy cooking classes at the community college. Eating healthy foods
increases energy and reduces risk for obesity, Diabetes, and high blood pressure.
- Pledge to manage stress by setting aside time to relax and making a good
night’s sleep a priority. Chronic stress contributes to many health
problems like heart disease, depression, and anxiety.
- Pledge to see your family doctor for screenings as frequently as the doctor
recommends. If you haven’t been to a physician in years or don’t
have a doctor, pledge to enroll in a health plan and schedule an appointment.
Regular checkups are a basic and essential part of keeping you at your peak.
To build an online community of health pledgers, a St. Joseph Hoag Health
and the Los Angeles Angels invite you to join our new movement called
Pledge4Health. Our doctors and care providers, in partnership with the
Angels, are asking their patients and Angels fans to make a pledge—a
promise--to be health-conscious and live a healthier lifestyle. Make a
health pledge in your favorite social media community using the hashtag
#pledge4health and share the pledges other people have made.
Every day is an opportunity to make better choices for our health. It’s
never too late to make a new resolution to get fit and treat your body
right. So take the Pledge4Health and make exercise and healthy eating
a part of our daily lives. Go to #pledge4health and share your pledge today.
Michael Stouder, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician at Mission Heritage Medical
Group, part of St. Joseph Hoag Health.