5 simple ways to improve your health

There’s all kinds of information available these days that outline why living a healthy lifestyle is important. Research shows eating right, exercising, avoiding bad habits like smoking and too much alcohol may lead to longer life. 

Unfortunately we have a long way to go to turn around present lifestyles.

A study by JAMA Internal Medicine shows less than one-third of Americans are currently at a healthy weight, with the rest of the population either overweight or obese. How can we convince people that there are more benefits from living healthy than simply preventing disease and postponing death?

Through my experience as a wellness professional, I have seen first-hand that individuals who are healthier are also happier and often have a better sense of well-being.

Consider dopamine, the chemical in your brain. It is a neurotransmitter that is necessary to feel pleasure and happiness. Scientists know now that moving the body is one of the best ways to release dopamine and generate pleasure in our brains.

Dr. Richard J. Davidson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told the Today Show that there’s now overwhelming evidence to indicate that happier people are actually healthier.

That doesn’t mean a "don’t worry, be happy" philosophy will lead to longer life. You have to put time and energy in.

The following is a list of daily acts that can bring you joy, vitality and the gift of well-being. Happiness will come as you practice them.
  1. Get enough sleep. Shoot for seven to eight hours each night.Move more. 
  2. Get up and move every 10 to 15 minutes for one minute. Wear a pedometer, and track your steps and make a goal of getting more steps in your day.
  3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories and can reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.
  4. Focus on the numbers five, three and one. Meditate for five minutes a day; write down three good things that happened in your day; and do one random act of kindness.
  5. Choose who you hang around with carefully. Smoking, obesity, happiness and even loneliness are contagious. So it is important to choose like-minded friends that support your positive lifestyle habits.

Just remember, when you are less stressed, healthier and more energized, you may add more life to your years and years to your life.

By Kathy Nellor, BCBSNE wellness consultant



The percentage of the bill you pay after your deductible has been met.


A fixed amount you pay when you get a covered health service.

Tiered benefit plan

A health care plan featuring multiple levels of benefits based on the network status of a particular provider. 


The annual amount you pay for covered health services before your insurance begins to pay.

emergency care services

Any covered services received in a hospital emergency room setting.


Includes behavioral health treatment, counseling, and psychotherapy

in-network provider

A provider contracted by your insurance company to accept an agreed upon payment for covered services. 

OUT-OF-network provider

A term for providers that aren’t contracting with your insurance company. (Your out-of-pocket costs will tend to be more expensive if you go to an out-of-network provider.)


Your expenses for medical care that aren’t reimbursed by insurance, including deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments.


If you can afford health insurance, but choose not to buy it, you must have a health coverage exemption or pay a tax penalty on your federal income tax return.


The amount you pay to your health insurance company each month. 

Preventive services

Health care services that focus on the prevention of disease and health maintenance.


Services and devices to help you recover if you are injured or have surgery. This includes physical, occupational and speech therapy.

special enrollment period

The time after the Open Enrollment Period when you can still purchase health insurance only if you have a qualifying life event (losing other health coverage, having a baby, getting married, moving).


A physician who has a majority of his or her practice in fields other than internal or general medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, pediatrics or family practice.