How to Stay Healthy

Many diseases can be prevented by taking a few simple steps. A balanced diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep can help you stay healthy.

Health is a state of complete physical mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This is the definition of health as set out in the constitution of the World Health Organization.

Physical activity

A physical activity is any movement that works your muscles and requires energy, including sports, walking, cycling, wheeling, dancing, swimming, and active recreation. It can be done at any level of skill and enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or ability. Regular activity helps prevent and manage noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers, and promotes healthy body weight, mental health, quality of life and wellbeing.

Vigorous intensity activity (anything that gets your heart racing and makes you breathe harder) has additional health benefits over moderate activity. Adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 3 or more days a week.

Many people are insufficiently physically active, which contributes to chronic medical diseases and increases the risk of premature death. There is incontrovertible evidence that regular physical activity is an important factor in reducing the burden of these diseases. The global action plan aims to increase physical activity worldwide, by making it part of the daily lives of all people, and by developing a range of effective policy actions to support, retain and increase regular physical activity.


Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in the United States. The smoke inhaled from tobacco products irritates and damages nearly every organ of the body, and it can lead to many types of cancer. Smoking also increases the risk of heart disease and lung diseases, such as bronchitis and emphysema. It can also cause diabetes and reduce fertility and sexual function.

In addition, smoking can damage DNA, which is the “instruction manual” for cells. Damaged DNA may trigger a cell to grow out of control and become a cancerous tumor.

Most smokers begin the habit during adolescence or early adulthood. They are often influenced by family, peers and the media. Some are attracted to the sense of rebellion and risk-taking associated with smoking. Other people start because it provides pleasure, and it relieves boredom or stress. Personality factors like impulsivity, low self-esteem and depression can also influence whether someone starts smoking. Smoking can be a habit that is difficult to break.

Cancer screening

Cancer screening can detect some cancers at an early stage when they are often easier to treat and before they cause symptoms. It saves thousands of lives each year and can prevent some cancers from developing in the first place.

Some cancer screening tests have been shown to be helpful in both finding cancers early and decreasing the chance of dying from that cancer (such as mammograms for breast cancer, Pap smears for cervical cancer, and colonoscopies for colorectal cancer). Others may find cancers but do not decrease the chances of death from cancer (such as PSA testing for prostate cancer).

Screening can also lead to overdiagnosis, which is when a test finds slow-growing cancers that would not cause any illness or death during a person’s lifetime. Overdiagnosis can cause anxiety, unnecessary tests, and potentially harmful treatments that are not necessary. It can also lead to increased health care costs. New blood-based tests that can detect multiple cancers at the same time are promising, but further research is needed to determine if they reduce cancer incidence and death.