Healthy habits

No one can avoid growing older, but you can take steps to extend your health and promote your well-being. Learn which small changes to your daily habits can help bring about big improvements in your health and quality of life.

Alcohol and drugs

  • Avoid using drugs and abusing alcohol. If you use alcohol, do so moderately.
  • Do not drive after drinking or using drugs. If you drink alcohol, always have a designated driver.
  • If substance abuse is causing problems for you or others, we can help. Talk with your physician about our resources for members with alcohol or drug problems.
  • You could also use our facility directory to locate our Behavioral Medicine, Psychiatry, or Mental Health departments for professional help.

Dental care

Aside from keeping your smile bright, good dental habits help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

  • Floss daily and brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Visit your dentist regularly.

Diet, nutrition, and weight

Woman eatingHealthy eating habits can go a long way toward keeping your body running clean. Consider the tips below as you make decisions about which foods to eat.

  • Nourish your mind and body with a healthy diet. Eat a balanced diet that includes at least 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables per day and up to 2 servings of fruits per day. Read food labels and limit foods high in salt, fat, and sugar, especially foods with added sugar.
  • Increase fiber by eating beans and whole-grain cereals, breads, pasta and rice. A high-fiber diet reduces your risk of getting many cancers.
  • Make sure you are getting enough dietary calcium and vitamin D, which helps you to absorb calcium. The recommended amount of calcium for adults younger than 50, and for men age 50 to 70, is 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Women 50 and older, and all adults age 71 and older, need 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. Adults age 19-70 need 600 IU per day of vitamin D, and adults age 71 and older need 800 IU per day.
  • If you are a woman of childbearing age, take a multivitamin with 0.4 milligrams (400 micrograms) of folic acid daily.
  • Learn all about eating well with a customized nutrition plan from Nourish.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Find out if you are at a healthy weight for your height with our body mass index (BMI) calculator. Get personalized strategies for reaching your ideal weight with our Balance program.

Emotional health

We believe your well-being includes a healthy mind and spirit. Follow the tips below to maintain your emotional balance.

  • If you feel anxious or depressed, if you're thinking about suicide, or if someone is hurting you (or threatening to hurt you) emotionally or physically, talk to your physician or practitioner — or another person you can trust — for help.
  • Individual, family, and group counseling is available through our Mental Health, Behavioral Health, or Psychiatry departments. Find out about mental health services in your area.
  • Take steps to manage your stress. Our Relax program will design personalized strategies to help you manage stress.
  • Remember that loneliness and isolation increase your risk of illness. Spend time with your friends and family and participate in activities that interest you.
  • Care for Depression can provide you with a customized plan to cope with depression and help you lead a fuller life.


Daily movement enhances your health. The good news is, even everyday activities count toward your fitness goals.

  • Try to be physically active for a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) of more vigorous activities. Aerobic exercise, strength training, and flexibility are key components of total fitness. A higher level of physical activity (up to 5 hours per week of moderate activity, or 2 hours and 30 minutes of vigorous activity) improves health more than the minimum level.
  • Talk to your physician before starting a vigorous exercise program.


No one wants to end up in an emergency room. You can take steps to prevent accidental injuries.

  • Wear your seatbelt for every car ride.
  • Use helmets and safety gear when riding a bicycle or motorcycle.
  • Install smoke detectors and change the batteries regularly.
  • Lock up guns and keep ammunition in a separate place.
  • Set water heater temperature to between 120 degrees and 130 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent burns.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Avoid climbing ladders if you have trouble walking or keeping your balance.

Sexual health

  • Use birth control to avoid unplanned pregnancies. Your health care practitioner can help you understand the effectiveness and risks of each birth control method.
  • Follow safer sex practices, such as using condoms, to reduce the risk of chlamydia, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Avoid having sex with multiple partners or with high-risk partners, such as known drug users.
  • Screening for HIV infection, the virus that causes AIDS, is recommended at least once for all adults ages 15 to 65 years.
  • Discuss with your physician how often you should be tested for STDs based on your personal risk factors.

Skin care

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure and protect your skin and eyes from the sun.
  • Wear a hat and use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 every day to help prevent skin cancer.

Smoking/tobacco use


If you are being abused, hurt, or threatened, talk with your doctor or another person you can trust.

Reviewed by: Craig W. Robbins, MD, January 2019

© 2015 Kaiser Permanente