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How to live a healthy lifestyle

Five Choices to Help You Stay Healthy

What can I do to help stay healthy?

You should not smoke

If you smoke, stopping smoking is often the single most effective thing that you can do to reduce your risk of future illness.  The risk to health falls rapidly as soon as you stop smoking (but takes a few years before the increased risk reduces completely). For further information on stopping smoking go to:

Do some regular physical activity

Anything that gets you mildly out of breath and a little sweaty is fine.  For example: jogging, heavy gardening, swimming, cycling, etc.  A brisk walk each day is what many people do - and that is fine.  However, it is thought that the more vigorous the activity, the better.  To gain most benefit you should do at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days.  Two shorter bursts is thought to be just as good.  For example, two 15 minute bouts of activity at different times in a day.

Eat a healthy diet

Briefly, a healthy diet means:

AT LEAST five portions, and ideally 7-9 portions, of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day.

THE BULK OF MOST MEALS should be starch-based foods (such as cereals, wholegrain bread, potatoes, rice, pasta) plus fruit and vegetables.

NOT MUCH fatty food such as fatty meats, cheeses, full-cream milk, fried food, butter, etc.  Use low fat, mono-, or poly-unsaturated spreads.

INCLUDE 2-3 portions of fish per week.  At least one of which should be 'oily' (such as herring, mackerel, sardines, kippers, pilchards, salmon, or fresh tuna).

If you eat meat it is best to eat lean meat, or poultry such as chicken.

If you do fry, choose a vegetable oil such as sunflower, rapeseed or olive oil.

Try not to add salt to food, and limit foods which are salty.

Try to lose weight if you are overweight or obese

You don't need to get to a perfect weight.  If you are overweight you can gain great health benefits by losing 5-10% of your weight.  This is often about 5-10kg.  (10kg is about one and a half stone.)

Don't drink too much alcohol

A small amount of alcohol is usually fine, but too much can be harmful.  Men should drink no more than 21 units per week (and no more than 4 units in any one day).  Women should drink no more than 14 units per week (and no more than 3 units in any one day).  One unit is in about half a pint of normal strength beer, or two thirds of a small glass of wine, or one small pub measure of spirits.

Do you want more detail?

There are more detailed leaflets available on all the above topics.  Comprehensive patient resources are available at or click on the links below for more information.

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