BILL REGER-NASH, ED.D ., of the WVU Department of Community Medicine, offers the following tips for being a healthy Mountaineer fan:

Tackle your weight. If you’re overweight, you have a greater risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and some forms of cancer. Your healthcare provider can help assess your risk factors and offer guidance to losing weight. Even modest weight loss can mean big health benefits.

Burn fat — not couches! At least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity, such as walking, biking or swimming, can help you live longer and healthier. Exercise can relieve stress, anxiety and depression, and elevate mood. It can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and several forms of cancer.

Build muscle strength. It’s important to build muscle mass with strength training. Weight training helps burn calories, changes body composition, and strengthens bones and connective tissue.

Keep it colorful. Variety is the spice of life, so ensure that your diet includes plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables — at least five servings per day — as well as whole grains and other healthy choices. Mountaineer Maniacs beware: While some stress can enhance performance, too much takes a mental and physical toll. Learn to manage stress levels to prevent anxiety, depression and other conditions. If you are feeling stressed, talk with someone.

Kick the habit. Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, and lung cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths in the U.S. for men and women. If you’re having trouble “kicking the habit,” talk with your doctor. New prescription drugs can make quitting easier.

Practice sun sense. Use sunscreen! Long-term sun exposure can cause premature changes in the skin, including wrinkles. It can also increase the risk of cataracts and certain other eye problems, and suppress the immune system. The biggest risk associated with sun exposure is skin cancer.

Take a time out. Sleep deprivation can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. While stresses of daily life can impact sleep, some people may have undiagnosed sleep disorders. Talk with your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Tailgate. Travel, join a club, tailgate! Whatever you do, do something you enjoy and do it with people. Social activities are good for your physical and mental health. Make sure you have fun daily.

STEPHANIE BOCK is the director of community relations for WVU Healthcare. This is one in a series of weekly columns provided by Mon Health Systems, WVU Healthcare and the Morgantown Bicycle Board.

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