AMA Helps Americans Get Healthier One Step At A Time

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Small steps can lead to big health benefits, according to the new AMA Healthier Life Steps campaign, launched today. As families stretch to make ends meet in a tough economy, the healthy steps provided in the American Medical Association's campaign can help people live a healthy lifestyle at little or no cost. New resources and tools are now available free on the AMA's web site www.ama-assn.org to help all Americans reduce risky health behaviors, and show them how to work with their physician to meet health goals.

"Eating healthy, exercising and eliminating unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excessive or risky drinking can seem like daunting tasks if you try to tackle everything at once," said AMA President-Elect J. James Rohack, M.D. "Incorporating small changes into everyday life, like cutting 100 calories per day and getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise, can make the process of getting healthier more manageable."

The AMA Healthier Life Steps program includes action plans and tip sheets on how to improve diet, increase physical activity and eliminate unhealthy behaviors like risky drinking and smoking. A body mass index (BMI) calculator and progress tracking calendars are also on the Web site and can help patients chart their progress and stay motivated.

A few simple tips to start living healthier and lower risk for chronic disease include:

-- Pack a healthy lunch at home instead of eating out.

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-- To prevent overeating when out, ask for a box and wrap up half your entree to take home right when it's served.

-- Park at the furthest spot in a parking lot and walk to the door.

-- At the end of a long day, go out for a walk. It's a great way to unwind and relax and get exercise too.

"Nearly half of Americans are living with often-preventable chronic diseases, conditions that limit their quality of life and cost the U.S. health care system billions of dollars a year to treat," said Dr. Rohack. "Getting regular, preventive health care can reduce the cost burden for the individual patient and the entire health care system by helping to catch illnesses earlier when they are easier to treat and less costly."

For more in-depth information on healthy lifestyles, patients can look to the recently released American Medical Association Guide to Prevention and Wellness. This book describes the foundations of good health, from reducing stress to recommended screening tests. It provides advice on how to reduce health risks and help prevent major illnesses.

"It's important to remember that making strides towards a healthier lifestyle is not an all-or-nothing process," said Dr. Rohack. "Every step counts and it's never too late to start."

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