Health Focus Messages

Select a topic below and cut and paste the information into newsletters, bulletins, your website or social media. Or use as thought-starters for sermons, programs and other activities.

STAYING HEALTHY

Stay Active and Stay Well

Regular physical activity improves your overall health and fitness. It also lowers your risk for many health problems. Kids age 6 and up need an hour of activity a day. Most adults need 2 ½ hours a week. Learn more from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm.

A Walk Is Good for Body and Soul

Do you need some time for reflection or meditation? How about taking a walk? It's good for your body and can clear your mind for positive thoughts.

Choosing Healthy Foods

Are you interested in making healthier food choices? There's help on the web. The United States Department of Agriculture provides Supertracker – a free and easy tool to help you compare foods and keep up with what you're eating. Learn more at supertracker.usda.gov.

Stop Smoking Now

The best time to stop smoking is now. There's help on the web at smokefree.gov or tnquitline.com. Your health care provider can help, too. Become a quitter today.

What Smoking Costs

Wouldn't you love to have an extra $200 a month? An average pack of cigarettes costs $6.28. Over a year, that's $2400. That's money you could save or spend in other ways. There's free help to quit at, tnquitline.com or from your health care provider. Quit now and start saving.

Losing 5 Percent of Your Weight Is a Big Win for Your Health

Just a 5 percent weight loss can be a big deal. If you weigh 175 pounds, that's just 8.75 pounds. That loss can improve your blood pressure, cholesterol, joint pain and sleep. Find out more on WebMD webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-five-percent-weight-loss.

Regular Checkups Help You Stay Healthy

How long since your or your child's last checkup? Most experts recommend an exam every year – even if you're healthy. It's the best way to spot small problems early, and it's great for your peace of mind.

CHILD, ADOLESCENT AND TEEN HEALTH

Help your child or teen grow up healthy

The early years of a child's life are important to their health and development. Most kids and teens need to see a health care provider every year for a checkup. The provider will check for normal growth, good mental health and give immunizations needed. They can also find and treat small problems early, before they become big problems. If your child is overdue for a checkup, make one today!

Learn more at cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment

Vaccines protect from deadly diseases

Did you know that once-common diseases like pertussis, mumps and measles are very rare in the U.S. today? That's because vaccines have had a huge impact on the health of our children. Most children get vaccines that protect them against 16 serious, sometimes deadly, diseases. Is your child or teen overdue for a vaccine? It's not too late to catch up!

Learn more at cdc.gov/vaccines

Being fit and active is a great way to live healthy

Every day, children and teens need at least one hour of physical activity. It can help you have a healthy heart, strong bones and a healthy weight. And it can ease the feeling of depression. You don't have to be a star athlete to get fit. Find activities you love that get your heart beating fast and your lungs breathing deeply. Hiking, skateboarding, dancing, bicycle riding and playing ball are great ways to get moving. Learn more at cdc.gov/healthyweight

Build a healthy eating style

Kids and teens need a good balance of nutrition to keep them healthy as they grow. It's no secret fruits and veggies are key to a healthy plate. But the bad things like saturated fats, sodium and sugar are filling most of our plates. The good news: You can find variety, eat the foods you like and still keep a healthy balance. Visit myplate.gov for information, tools and tips to clean up your plate and find your healthy eating style. Learn more at myplate.gov.

Mental illnesses can be treated

Children and teens face many struggles growing up. But some problems need the help of a trusted adult or health care professional. If you feel anxious, worried, depressed or suicidal, know that these problems can be treated. Find help from an adult you trust. Or text The Crisis Text Line: 741741. Or Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you're thinking of harming yourself.

Learn more about you risk at nimh.nih.gov

WOMEN'S HEALTH

How to take care of your health

Women, your health is as important as you are. One of the best ways you can take care of yourself is by getting the checkups and tests you need, like mammograms and pap tests. Talk to your health care provider. Together, you can decide what tests and care you need to be at your best health. Learn more at womenshealth.gov/nwhw/by-age.

Regular mammograms: your best chance of beating breast cancer

Many women worry about their risk of getting breast cancer. It's true, breast cancer is serious and sometimes deadly. But here's the good news: It's treatable and often beatable. The key is finding it early with a mammogram. Are you due for your next mammogram? Schedule one today. Learn more at cdc.gov/cancer/breast.

What exactly is a mammogram?

Mammograms are x-rays used to find breast cancer. Most women should have their first mammogram between ages 35 and 40. Then your health care provider can tell you how often to get mammograms based on your health and family history. Don't put off this life-saving test. Talk to your provider about scheduling one today. Learn more at cdc.gov/cancer/breast.

Life-saving test can detect and prevent cancer in women

Pap tests are used to look for changes in the cells that can lead to cancer and other issues in women. If you're a woman between the ages of 21 and 65, you need regular pap tests. Your health care provider can tell you just how often, based on your health and family history. Are you due for your next Pap test? Talk to your provider about scheduling one today. Learn more at cdc.gov/cancer/cervical.

Women need more than your yearly physical

A well-woman exam is more than just your yearly physical. It's done by a special health care provider just for women who looks for problems that only affect women, like breast or cervical cancer. It's also a safe place to talk issues that may be difficult or embarrassing to talk about with family or friends. Talk to your provider about scheduling your well-woman exam today.

MATERNITY CARE

Prepare for pregnancy

According to the March of Dimes, you can prepare for a healthy baby even before you're expecting. See your health care provider to spot any possible health issues. Follow their advice on healthy eating and exercise. There's more information about preparing for pregnancy at marchofdimes.org.

See your health care provider regularly during pregnancy

Chances are you'll have a healthy pregnancy. But during regular prenatal visits, your health care provider can catch any problems early. Most women agree these visits bring them peace of mind. Make an appointment as soon as you think you're pregnant. Your provider will set up a schedule.

Pregnancy, smoking, alcohol and drugs

Let's be blunt. Smoking, alcohol and drugs can and will affect your unborn child. Even some prescription drugs aren't safe while you're pregnant. Be honest with your health care provider about all the medicines you take and all of your habits. Help is available if you need it.

Do you have your baby's car seat?

It's the law – you'll need a car seat in place in order to bring your baby home from the hospital. There are programs that offer car seats and will help you install them. Ask your health care provider or at your childbirth class.

After your baby is born

A lot of women feel down after their baby is born. It usually passes. But if it doesn't, you should talk to your health care provider right away. Postpartum depression is a real problem that can affect every part of your life. If you feel like you need help now, call the Tennessee Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 1-855-274-7471.

Breastfeeding is a healthy option

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding. Breastfed babies are better able to fight off viruses and bacteria. They have lower rates of asthma and allergies. They also have less risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Talk to your health care provider. You can call Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline at 1-855-4BF-MOMS (1-855-423-6667).

MEN'S HEALTH

Annual checkups

Have you had a checkup recently? Many of us don't visit a health care provider when we feel fine. But a yearly checkup can spot small problems early – when they're easier to treat. A checkup is also a good time to ask questions that you may not be able to talk about with anyone else.

Tests you may need

Your health care provider will advise certain tests at various points in your life. They may include screenings for blood pressure or cholesterol problems, diabetes or colon cancer. Talk to your provider about what tests are right for you. A quick guide to screenings can be found at bluecare.bcbst.com/members/your-health.

Weight

Do you need to lose weight? First, check your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can figure your BMI at cdc.gov/healthyweight. But talk to your health care provider before starting a diet or exercise plan. Everyone's needs are different.

Smoking

Are you ready to quit smoking? It's an important step for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Getting support increases your chance of success. Talk to your health care provider. And find free help at smokefree.gov or tnquitline.com

Safety behind the wheel

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that almost twice as many men die in car crashes than women. Men are more likely to drink and drive, speed and not buckle up. Next time you take the wheel, think before you take chances.

Depression, alcohol and drugs

Depression is sometimes considered a “woman's disease.” And that may be keeping many men from seeking help. Men aren't always encouraged to talk about feelings. Their symptoms can be different from women's – including hostile and aggressive behavior. And like women, they may turn to alcohol and drugs to try to feel better. Help is available – from your health care provider and other organizations. Do you need someone to talk to now? Call Tennessee Mental Health Crisis Hotline at 1-855-274-7471.

YOUR FAMILY'S SAFETY

Seatbelts save lives

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says seatbelts saved almost 14,000 lives in 2015. Wearing a seatbelt is the law in Tennessee. Put safety first and buckle up.

Need help installing a car seat?

Many agencies will help you install a car seat. Check with your local police, sheriff or emergency services. If you're not sure about age and weight laws, the complete list is at tn.gov/safety.

Safety at home

You can guard against accidents at home. The National Safety Council says the most common dangers include drowning, poisoning, fires and falls. In most cases, these accidents can be prevented. Find safety tips at nsc.org.

Helmets prevent brain injury

Many adults remember when they didn't wear a helmet to bike or play sports. But we also didn't have all the facts about brain injuries. According to the National Safety Council, every three minutes a child in the U.S. is treated for a sports-related concussion. Wearing helmets that fit can help reduce that number. Find more info at nsc.org.

When your teen starts to drive

It's not easy to watch your teen drive away alone for the first time. Before they go, ask them to sign a parent-teen driving agreement. You'll find a copy at cdc.gov/parentsarethekey. It can make a difference in your teen's driving decisions.

You can prevent falls

According to the National Safety Council, falls are a leading cause of injury to older adults. But there's a lot we can do to prevent falls - remove clutter, install handrails and know what medicines can make you dizzy. You'll find more fall prevention tips at nsc.org.

Medicine Safety

We're lucky to have medicines to treat diseases and prevent future problems. But they work best when you take the right dose at the right time. Remember to talk to your provider before stopping or changing medicines. Get refills on time, and never share medicines. Store them safely, too. Pain medicines and other drugs can be misused by others or can harm a child or an adult if taken by accident.

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH

Get help for mental health problems and substance abuse

If you have mental health issues or problems with alcohol or drugs, you may feel embarrassed. You may think you have to keep it a secret. Don't feel that way. These problems are more common than you think. And there's good news: You can get help. See your health care provider. Learn more about mental health problems at nimh.nih.gov/health/topics.

Opioid addition – a big problem in Tennessee

Opioids are prescribed by health care providers to treat pain. You may also know these drugs by names like fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine or oxycodone. They provide relief, but are easy to become addicted to. Misusing them can cause harm – even death. Take opioids exactly the way your provider says to. Get rid of any leftover drugs the right way, and keep them safe from anyone who might misuse them. Find more information at countitlockitdropit.org and tn.gov/opioids.

The cause of depression is not weakness

Depression is a disease. It's not caused by personal weakness and is not a character flaw. When you have depression, there may be problems with activity levels in certain parts of your brain, or chemicals in your brain may be out of balance. But you can get help. Learn more at nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression.

Hope for mental health problems: a good support system and the help of a health care provider

Sometimes mental health problems make you feel helpless and hopeless. But you're not alone. Talking with others who suffer from these problems may help. And treatment can help you get back in control. Make an appointment with your health care provider to get started with a treatment plan.

Learn more at mentalhealth.gov/talk/connect.

Lay the foundation for your child's mental health

The first three years of life are important mentally and physically. Your touch, words and actions should let your child know they're safe. This gives them the confidence to cope with stress. Protect your child from people, places or things that can harm them. If you need help, there are many resources. Reach out to your health care provider, friends, family and organizations that can help.

When mental health problems become an emergency

You wouldn't ignore a disease in your body, hoping it will go away. And you shouldn't ignore sickness in your mind either. If you feel you're in crisis, like you might hurt yourself or someone else, don't ignore it. Call for help right away: 1-855-CRISIS-1 (1-855-274-7471). Learn more at mentalhealth.gov/get-help.

DIABETES

Live well with diabetes

Diabetes is a serious illness. It can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease and other health problems if it's not controlled. But diabetes doesn't have to take over your life. Small changes can make a big difference in being a healthier, happier you. Find out how at niddk.nih.gov.

Why you should be active

If you have diabetes, being active can help you control your blood glucose, weight and blood pressure. It also boosts “good cholesterol” and lowers “bad cholesterol.” How much is right for you? A little every day is right for most people – start with 10 to 20 minutes and work your way up from there. Make sure your health care provider says it's okay for you to exercise if you've been inactive a while. Learn more at cdc.gov/diabetes.

Eat right. Control diabetes.

Learning how to eat right is a good way to manage your diabetes. Try these tips: Eat smaller portions. Cut fatty foods, like fried foods, whole fat dairy and sweets like cakes, pies and candy. Eat more whole grains, like oatmeal, whole grain bread and bagels, or cereals with 100 percent whole grains. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies. For more tips on what to eat and what to avoid with diabetes, visit cdc.gov/diabetes.

Regular tests: Your best chance of controlling diabetes

Good news for diabetics: You have a lot of control over how well you feel. But first, you need to know where you're starting from. These tests give you a good picture of how well you're managing your diabetes – and what you need to work on. Ask your health care provider how often you need an HbA1C test, a urine test for protein, a cholesterol test and blood pressure checks. The more you know, the more power you have to make changes. Learn more about preventing complications of diabetes at cdc.gov/diabetes.

Take your diabetes medicine – the right way

Your health care provider knows best when it comes to the medicine you need to manage diabetes. Always take your medicine exactly the way the health care provider says – the right amount at the right time. If your medicine is making you feel bad, ask your health care provider about changing it. It's never a good idea to stop taking medicine without your health care provider's okay. It could be very bad for your long-term health.

Learn more at cdc.gov/diabetes.

HEART HEALTH

Show your heart some love. It will thank you.

If you're living with heart disease, there's a lot you can do to lessen your risk of problems like heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. The key is to protect your heart from damage. Try these tips: Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and take all your medicine exactly how your health care provider told you to. Learn more at heart.org.

Exercising for a healthy heart

For most people with heart disease, exercise can lower your chance of a heart attack. But talk to your health care provider before starting if you haven't been active for a while. Try starting with light to moderate activity most days of the week. Some ideas are walking, cycling and jogging. Take it easy at first and build up as you get stronger. Get tips for starting an exercise program at healthyforgood.heart.org/move-more.

Heart-healthy eating

A heart-healthy eating plan is full of foods that can lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Here are a few simple ideas. Eat more fruits and vegetables and other high-fiber foods. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat and trans fat. Limit sodium, alcohol and added sugar. For recipes and tips on what to eat for good heart health, visit healthyforgood.heart.org/eat-smart.

Medicines can treat heart disease

Your health care provider knows best when it comes to the medicine you need to manage heart problems. Always take your medicine exactly the way the provider says – the right amount at the right time. If your medicine is making you feel bad, ask your provider about changing it. It's never a good idea to stop taking medicine without your provider's okay. It could be very bad for your long-term health. For more tips on living well with heart disease, visit healthyforgood.heart.org/be-well.

How often to test your cholesterol and blood pressure

Good news for heart patients: There's a lot you can do to protect your heart from damage. But first, you need to know where you're starting. Getting your cholesterol and blood pressure checked often helps you know what you need to work on. Ask your health care provider how often you need cholesterol and blood pressure checks. The more you know, the more power you have to make changes. Learn more at cdc.gov/heartdisease/medical_conditions.htm.

ASTHMA

Asthma is common and can be serious

More than 25 million people are known to have asthma in the U.S – 7 million of them children. Making an asthma action plan with your health care provider can be the difference in breathing easy. Or even saving your or your child's life. Need more information? Visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America online at aafa.org.

Choose the right combination of asthma medicines

With the medicines now available, it's easier than ever to live well with asthma. Most of the time both long-term and quick-relief medicines are needed. Work with your health care provider to choose what medicines are right for you or your child.

Children and asthma

There's no reason why asthma should hold your child back. The goal is breathing well and doing what they enjoy. Make sure your child's school or caregivers have everything needed to keep them on track. That includes their medicines, instructions on when and how to take them and written permission from you to use the medicines.

Smoking and asthma

Everyone knows smoking is unhealthy. It can be deadly for someone with asthma. Just being around a smoker is harmful. Children with asthma who live with smokers have more flare-ups, visit the emergency room more often and have trouble with asthma control. Get free help to quit from the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine. Visit tnquitline.com or call 1-800-784-8669.

Do you know your asthma triggers?

Your asthma attacks may be caused by allergies to dust, smoke, mold, pets, food, pollen, pollution or other irritants. These are your triggers. Some of them you can avoid, but others you can't. Stay prepared for an asthma attack with your short-acting medicine on hand.

What causes asthma?

Asthma may run in families or can just develop. It's more common for African Americans and Hispanic individuals. But for everyone with asthma, the treatment is the same – avoid triggers and take the right medicines at the right time.

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