The new year coincided with a report released by the United Health Foundation (UHF) that showed that Arkansas increased its health ranking by two spots, from 48 to 46 overall. The UHF described Arkansas’s strengths as a low prevalence of excessive drinking and high meningococcal and Tdap immunization coverage among adolescents. They listed the state’s challenges as a high prevalence of smoking, a high cardiovascular death rate, and a low rate of dentists.
“We are pleased our state moved up in the rankings, and I want to thank Arkansans for the work they’ve done to improve their health,” said Dr. Nathaniel Smith, ADH director and state health officer. “As we all set goals for the New Year, we want Arkansans to know that we are here to help them with their health.”
The new year is a time when many people set goals for the future. Many of the goals set are health-related, like increasing physical activity and eating more nutritious foods, and the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH), Be Well Arkansas, and Healthy Active Arkansas (HAA) are ready to help people reach those goals. Here are a few tips for starting on this year’s resolutions:
Find the time to be active. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new physical activity guidelines for preschool-aged children and older in November. They recommend adults get at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week, or 20 to 45 minutes per day. If it seems too difficult to find 20 to 45 minutes per day to exercise, you can always split it into multiple sessions whenever you have time. Take a walk over lunch or a break, or a stroll after dinner.
Additionally, the new guidelines add recommendations for preschool-aged children (three through five years) to be engaged in some kind of physical activity throughout the day. The guidelines also recommend at least 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic activity among children and adolescents aged six through 17 years.
Quit tobacco and nicotine. The ADH’s Be Well Arkansas program can help smokers quit tobacco and nicotine products. It’s easy to get connected by calling (833) 283-WELL or going online at www.bewellarkansas.org.
Control diabetes and high blood pressure. Be Well Arkansas can also connect you with resources in your area of the state to help you get your diabetes or high blood pressure under control. Call (833) 283-WELL or go online at www.bewellarkansas.org.
Increase worksite wellness. Healthy Active Arkansas has many programs and initiatives for every type of organization and group to get involved in improving their own health, from becoming breastfeeding friendly to increasing physical activity and access to healthy foods. Learn more at www.healthyactive.org.
Make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations. Vaccines are the safest way to protect you, your children, and your community from a long list of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. For example, the HPV vaccine can prevent a variety of cancers in both men and women. There are recommended vaccines for children, adolescents, and adults.