There is often talk of “lifestyle changes” in regards to leading a healthier life. However, it’s not always clear what those changes are or how they may affect our overall health. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming, but focusing on a few key areas can greatly reduce our risk of future diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, and more, leading to a longer and fuller life. While any single long-term improvement can be beneficial, making a combined effort in several areas will have greater positive effects on our overall health.

Small changes that are maintained throughout our lives can greatly reduce our risk of disease in the future. Planning ahead can help us see the big picture and avoid making decisions when we are in a more vulnerable state (such as when we’re tired or hungry). Some of the major lifestyle factors to focus on when considering and attempting to lead a healthier life include:


The term “diet” often has a negative connotation, feeling unpleasant and uncomfortable. Instead of limiting or restricting, focus on things to add—foods that will have the most nutrients (such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein). This allows our bodies to have more energy and to function at a higher level.

  • Eat more of these:healthy eating tips with Caldwell Primary Care Provider

    • Non-starchy vegetables (like broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, green beans, mushrooms, or peppers)
    • Fruit (try to avoid fruits canned in syrup)
    • Lean protein (like chicken, fish, eggs, or tofu)
    • Whole grains (like beans, peas, lentils, whole wheat, oats, or quinoa)
    • Water or non-sugary drinks
  • Eat less of these:

    • Processed foods
    • Fried foods
    • Foods high in sugar and/or salt
    • Sugary drinks
    • Alcohol


Exercise has many benefits, including increasing energy levels and flexibility; decreasing stress, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels; improving emotional health, balance, strength, and blood circulation; and more. 

  • Choose Something Fun: It can be anything—racquetball, swimming, hiking, or walking your dog. Doing something that you enjoy makes it much more likely for you to want to do an activity and to continue doing it.
  • Start Small: It can seem daunting to commit to a long exercise, and this can lead to putting it off “until I have time.” Try to take advantage of the little breaks available throughout your day. If you have 5 or 10 free minutes, take a lap around the office, walk up and down your stairs, do some stretches, or perform a chore you’ve been wanting to complete—any movement counts!
  • Find a Buddy: Having someone to do an activity with helps us feel more accountable and motivated.
  • Spend Time Outside: Getting outside not only allows you to increase activity levels, but it has also been shown to help reduce stress and tension, improve our sleep and energy levels, and boost mood and concentration.

Weight Levels

As mentioned above, both nutrition and exercise goals can have large impacts on our weight management. Being overweight and/or obese can greatly increase our risk for many diseases. However, it is also important to be realistic in our goals. Slow and moderate weight loss is much healthier and more maintainable in the long run. 

  • Plan Ahead: Planning out meals can help save time and energy. You are also able to think more clearly when preparing in advance instead of in the moment when you are hungry.
  • Reduce Portion Sizes: Pay attention to recommended serving sizes and the types of food you are eating, as mentioned above. The CDC takes a closer look at healthy eating options and recommendations.
  • Be Mindful: Practicing mindful eating habits allows us to pay better attention to our bodies and monitor our food intake. It involves limiting distractions while we eat, eating slowly, and listening to our hunger cues. For more information, check out the Harvard School of Public Health health guidelines. 

Reducing Stress

Everyone has their own stressors to deal with, and these can come and go or seem to pile on all at once. Stress can affect us in many ways, including feelings of worry, sadness, or frustration and changes in appetite, energy, or desires. It can also affect us physically through elevated blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, stomach upset, muscle aches, and more. Decreasing your daily stress level can go a long way towards improving your health and care tips from Caldwell, ID primary care provider

  • Take Time to Unwind: Schedule a daily time to consciously relax—whether it’s 5 minutes between activities or 30 minutes before bed—give yourself some time. You can take some deep breaths, stretch, meditate, and practice mindfulness—again, choose an activity that speaks to you!
  • Practice self-care: All of the categories here are included in taking care of yourself. But make it a weekly habit (or more as you’re able!) to do something extra just for you—read a book, take a bath, go dancing, see an old friend, listen to a podcast, get a massage, take a nap, go for a walk—anything that helps you feel a little lighter.

Increasing Sleep

Sleep is a critical part of our health. It allows our bodies to heal and repair themselves, promotes our immune system and energy levels, and increases our attention and memory. Sleeping at least 7 hours a night has also been shown to support heart health, maintain blood sugar levels, and aid in weight management. Gradually improving and remaining consistent in our sleep habits can lead to better quality sleep and better overall wellbeing.

  • Create a Routine: Set a time and be consistent in both going to bed and waking up at the same times, including weekends. Take 30 minutes to wind down before bed; set a simple routine such as putting on pajamas, brushing your teeth, and engaging in a relaxing activity. Take advantage of whatever helps you feel calm—reading a book, listening to music, light stretching, meditation, taking a bath, drinking some warm herbal tea.
  • Set Yourself Up for Success: Make sure the bedroom is comfortable for sleeping—usually cool, dark, and quiet. Feel free to utilize items like a fan, ear plugs, blackout curtains, or a white noise machine. Save the bed for sleep (with the exception of intimacy) - try to do other activities elsewhere, such as watching TV or scrolling through your phone. Avoid large meals, caffeine, or alcohol close to bedtime. 
  • Unplug: Avoid screen time for 30–60 minutes before heading to bed. This includes televisions, laptops, tablets, and cell phones. Electronic screens cause mental stimulation and trigger our brains to stay awake. 
  • Get Moving: Staying active during the day helps ensure our bodies are tired by bedtime. Try to start activities earlier in the day to allow time to wind down before bed. Keep naps short and early in the day to promote better rest at night.

Schedule an Annual Check-Up

Routine medical care is an important part of maintaining overall health and wellness. An annual wellness exam allows your primary care provider to review your health history and recommend preventive care, including vaccinations, health screenings, and incorporating healthy lifestyle habits that can lower your chances of developing diseases and keep you healthy for the long run.

Implementing healthy lifestyle changes can seem overwhelming at times. Focusing on smaller goals, however, can help us apply these changes little by little. It is important to recognize that no one is perfect in these habits and decisions; choosing to have dessert, skipping exercise when we’re ill, staying up late on a holiday, or even having several “bad days” in a row are not going to ruin your health or the progress you’ve made.

The goal is overall improvement and consistency. If you’d like to discuss a healthy lifestyle, specific goals for you, or are in need of an annual wellness exam, call us 208-508-0345 at Core Medicine to schedule an appointment today.

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