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Health Tips: Staying Fit and Healthy

You do your best to make things easier for the person in your care—whether it's helping with household chores, cooking nutritious meals, or gently reminding him or her to take medicine as prescribed. As a caregiver, you may find it hard to take care of yourself sometimes. Creating a healthy balance between your needs and those of the person you are caring for is important. Here are 10 tips to help you get started.

1. Finding time for you

Everybody needs to unwind sometimes. Whether it's reading a good book or catching up with an old friend, it's important to set aside some time each day just for you.

2. Choosing healthy food

Whether you're at home or on the run, consider healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, high-fiber foods, lean meats, and poultry. These foods can help give you more energy and help prevent health problems. Check out more healthy eating tips.

3. Exercising regularly

Regular exercise has many health benefits. It can be a good energizer and a great stress reliever. It also can help control blood pressure and cholesterol. Getting active does not have to mean long workouts at the gym. Aim for 30 minutes of activity a day. Walking is a great way to get started—whether you're at the mall or in your own neighborhood. Talk to your health care professional before starting any new exercise regimen.

4. Recharging—both mentally and physically

Getting out of the house and doing something you enjoy at least once a week is a great pick-me-up. Consider taking a walk in the park, taking a class, or visiting a friend. If the person you care for needs round-the-clock attention, ask a friend or family member to help out so you can take a break.

5. Keeping a sense of humor

Looking for a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to relax? Try laughing. It helps you relax, quickens your heart rate, and gets your blood and muscles moving. Find something that you and the person you care for can laugh about, such as a comedy on TV or a funny story.

6. Taking care of your own needs

Caregivers often put off the things they need to do for themselves. If this sounds familiar, know that it's OK to take care of personal tasks—whether it's balancing your checkbook, running errands, or simply spending time with friends and family. Your needs matter.

7. Keeping your personal health appointments

Taking an active role in your own health is always a good idea. Having regular medical and dental checkups, as well as other routine appointments and exams as recommended by your health care professional, can help you stay healthy and strong.

8. Staying connected with the outside world

Keeping in touch with friends and family is important to your own health and well-being—if not in person, then by phone or online. Keep the conversation upbeat and talk about things that you enjoy. You'll feel better that you did.

9. Thinking positively

A little positive thinking can go a long way. Take time to recognize and accept your emotions—no matter what they are. Realize that it’s perfectly natural to feel guilty or overwhelmed at times. But be sure to give yourself credit for all the good things you have done.

10. Recognizing the warning signs of stress and depression

Stress and depression can be serious health concerns for many caregivers. If you're having a hard time dealing with stress or are feeling depressed, be sure to talk to your health care professional as soon as possible.

It may take some patience and practice, but balancing your own needs with those of the person in your care can help you stay on a healthy path.

Further Resources

About.com

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

The Cleveland Clinic health information

eMedicineHealth.com

KidsHealth.org

Mayo Clinic

Pollen.com

WebMD


Further Resources

Allergy and Asthma Network - Mothers of Asthmatics, Inc.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Lung Association

CDC: asthma's impact on children and adolescents

CDC: how to quit

EPA: asthma and indoor environments

NIH: asthma and physical activity in the school

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Further Resources

American Diabetes Association

Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Diabetic Exercise and Sports Association

International Diabetes Federation

NIH: NIDDK diabetes health information

NIH: NIDDK nutrition information

NIH: National Diabetes Education Program

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation


Further Resources

American Council for Headache Education

American Headache Society

National Headache Foundation

New England Center for Headache


Further Resources

American Dietetic Association

Dietary guidelines for americans

Food and nutrition information center

NIH: nutrition information

NIH: weight loss and control

NIH: weight control


Always check with the health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing activity. It's also important to ask him or her about target heart rate to help determine appropriate exercise intensity.

Always check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity. It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

Always be sure to check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

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Health Coach Call

Listen to an example of what a call might sound like.

PlayNutrition call (7:16)
PlayActivity call (7:22)

Here are some important things to know about your Health Coach Call:

Our Coaches are employed by a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., a pharmaceutical company. The information provided is based on generally available nutrition and physical activity guidelines and information applicable to most people. Health Coaches are not licensed dietitians or health and fitness professionals, and they are not in a position to assess your individual nutrition or activity needs. This information is not appropriate if you are pregnant, and it may not be appropriate if you have specialized dietary needs or limitations on the level of activity or exercise you can safely undertake due to your medical conditions. Consult your health care professional regarding your specific needs, limitations, and health conditions. Health Coaches can educate and coach you on nutritional and physical activity recommendations for the typical person. Health Coaches are not health care professionals and cannot offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your health care professional because he or she knows you best. If you have a chronic health condition, check with your health care professional to find out if physical activity is safe before you start. If during your call you have concerns about any condition, special dietary needs, limitations on the level of activity or exercise, any treatments, side effects, or adverse experiences, your Health Coach will refer you to your health care professional.

Activity Points Explained

This Planner uses Activity Points as a way to help you stay motivated and focused on your activity goals. Points are assigned to each activity in the Planner. You'll earn more points when you increase the duration of the activity.

For example, when you bicycle for 15 minutes at a moderate pace (12 to 14 mph), you earn 120 Activity Points. To earn the same number of Activity Points while cycling at a very easy pace (less than 10 mph), you would need to bike for 30 minutes.

If you are currently inactive or get very little activity during the week, a good goal to work toward is 500 Activity Points each week. This is equal to 30 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic exercise on 5 days a week.

If you are moderately or highly active (more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), you may want to aim for up to 1,000 Activity Points each week. This is equivalent to 1 hour of activity on 5 days a week.

What you'll gain

At 500 Activity Points per week: Once you consistently reach this level (ie, 150 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain substantial health benefits. These benefits include lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

At 1,000 Activity Points per week: When you consistently reach this level (ie, 300 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain even more health benefits. These benefits include a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer and an even lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.