There are a number of ways that you can help yourself to stay healthy - even small changes can improve your health and cut your risk of illness.
It can be a big step to give up smoking but with NHS support you are four times more likely to succeed. If you decide to stop smoking you can reduce the risk of developing cancer and improve your general health.
Take the first step by contacting your local stop smoking service during office hours from 9.00am - 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. In Northumberland call 01670 813135 or if you live in North Tyneside call 0345 2000 101. There is also a free national helpline: 0800 022 4332
- For more information please visit our stop smoking page.
Cut down on alcohol
Regularly drinking alcohol above the recommended limits increases your risk of illness and poor health.
For more advice on how you can reduce your alcohol intake please visit the sensible drinking page. You can also find out more about the risks associated with drinking and how to drink sensibly by contacting your local specialist. In Northumberland call 01670 532013 or if you live in North Tyneside call 0191 270 4510.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight can increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and stroke. If you are concerned about your weight, your GP should be able to provide you with information and support in achieving a healthy weight. You can calculate your body mass index (BMI) to see if you’re a healthy weight. The following tips can help with maintaining a healthy weight:
Eat a balanced diet
Making sure you eat a wide range of wholesome fresh foods can help keep your weight constant as well as making sure you get the nutrients you need.
Try to eat at least five portions of different fruit and vegetables each day and choose fresh produce rather than processed and pre-prepared ready meals. Try to eat different foods over the week, rather than having the same thing every day for breakfast or lunch - this will ensure you are getting a range of vitamins and your body does not develop intolerances to food that you tend to eat too often. Try to avoid foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, salt or sugar and those that contain artificial flavouring and additives like E numbers.
- For more advice on eating a balanced diet please visit the eating well page
Keeping active is a key part of both physical and mental well-being. Thirty minutes a day of a steady physical activity is highly recommended, and activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and cycling can help your body and mind stay in shape.
If you are over 16 and would like help to improve your fitness levels or lose weight, see our health trainer service page for further details about how our specially trained staff can support you in achieving your goal. If you live in Northumberland call 01670 784 182 or for North Tyneside call 0191 270 4510.
- If you would like more advice about being physically active please visit the keeping active page.
Look after your sexual health
Using condoms during sex will protect you from most sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including Chlamydia and HIV. Free condoms are available from our family planning clinics and sexual health clinics.
If you are concerned about your sexual health, speak to your GP in confidence. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, a number of other local services offer confidential advice, information and screening for STIs.
- For more information and advice see our sexual health section.
Manage your stress levels
Stress and worry can affect us in several ways. It affects how we feel, how we think and how we relate to the world around us. Physical symptoms may include exhaustion, lack of motivation, loss of or increased appetite, headaches, crying, sleeplessness, and oversleeping.
- For advice on reducing your stress levels and how to cope, visit our managing stress page or speak to your GP.
Stay sun safe
Most cases of skin cancer are caused by damage from UV (ultraviolet) rays in sunlight. Sun beds also emit UV rays that damage your skin. Taking care to cover up in the sun and not using sun beds can cut your risk of developing cancer.
- For more information about staying safe in the sun please visit the protect skin in the sun section of the NHS Choices website.
There are a number of screening programmes which can detect certain diseases at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective:
- Bowel cancer screening - men and women aged between 60 and 69 are automatically sent a test kit to be completed at home, once every two years.
- Breast screening - women aged between 50 and 70 are automatically invited for a free breast x-ray (mammogram) every three years.
- Cervical screening - this is not a test for cancer but a method of preventing cancer by detecting and treating early abnormalities which, if left untreated, could lead to cancer in a woman's cervix (the neck of the womb). Women aged between 25 and 49 are automatically invited for free cervical screening every three years. Those aged between 50 and 64 are invited every five years.