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levels. Exercising also improves mood and reduces stress. Only thirty minutes a

day, five days a week, of moderate exercise is recommended for adults. Children

and adolescents should have an hour a day of physical activity. Living in sunny

southern California is perfect for outdoor activities, just remember to apply

sunscreen with SPF greater than 15, wear a hat and sunglasses.

5. Sleep.

Poor sleep health is a problem that affects a third of American

adults. Good quality sleep is necessary to support endocrine, metabolic and

neurological functions and not getting enough shut-eye, increases our risks of

cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. It is recommended

that adults have 7-8 hours per night of quality sleep, i.e. feeling rested. Pediatric

recommendations per 24hours: teen8-10hours, school age9-12hours, preschool

10-13 hours, toddler 11-14 hours, infant 12-16 hours, newborn 14-17 hours.

6. Don’t Smoke.

Cigarette smoking greatly increases your danger of developing

of heart disease and cancer. Smoking causes reduced circulation and swelling

of the arteries. If you do smoke, quit today! One year after you quit smoking,

your risk for heart disease is cut in half! Your doctor can suggest ways to help

you quit.

7. Limit Alcohol Use.

Excessive alcohol use raises your blood pressure and

can lead to health hazards including injuries, violence, mental health problems,

memory problems, liver and heart diseases as well as many types of cancers.

Men should have no more than two drinks per day and women only one.

8. Germ and Virus Precautions.

Keeping your hands clean is one of the best

ways to keep from getting sick and spreading illnesses. Washing with soap and

water, using hand sanitizers, and disinfecting surfaces will kill germs and viruses

in addition to minimizing allergy triggers. Immunizations are also important to

prevent communicable diseases such as measles, whooping cough, hepatitis

and influenza.

9. Health Check-Up.

Though it may seem unnecessary to see a doctor unless

you are sick or experiencing symptoms, it’s a good idea to get a yearly

preventive health exam. Regular check-ups and screenings help to identify risk

factors for common chronic diseases, detect disease that show no apparent

symptoms, discuss preventative behaviors, update clinical data and enhance

the relationship between you and your doctor. Healthcare.gov is a resource

to find information about recommended tests and screenings for every age

and gender.

Practicing healthy living habits, just like good car maintenance will make the difference between being the

proud owner of a good looking, long lasting, reliable machine, and saying goodbye to a rusty, faded-paint jalopy

that fell apart or broke down long before it was designed to. The secret is following your body’s maintenance

manual and adding to Erasmus’ philosophy written by Benjamin Franklin “An ounce of prevention is worth a

pound of cure. It’s more prudent to head off a disaster beforehand than to deal with it after it occurs.”

Karl Gebhard, MD, MS, is Board Certified in Family Medicine and has been practicing for over 15

years. Dr. Gebhard also has a Master of Science in Nutrition. He currently practices at Ross Legacy

Medical Group in Mission Viejo, California.