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Phoenix VA Health Care System

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Healthy Living

We are committed to providing Veterans with the highest quality health care. We also want to help Veterans and their families take care of themselves. There has been a lot of research in recent years on the best ways to maintain health and well-being. Nine Healthy Living Messages have been developed that can have the most impact on your health.  We encourage you to make these behaviors part of your daily life.  All of the healthy living messages are located on the VA's National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention website.

For more information about these healthy living messages, check out the recommended websites, talk to your VA provider, and review the directory of VA health education programs and services in the next section. We are happy to help you!  

Be Involved in Your Health Care

There are many ways to take an active role to improve your health. Be sure to give your health care team accurate and complete information about:

  • Your current health problems
  • Your concerns about your health
  • Past illnesses
  • Past hospitalizations
  • Your medicines, including over-the-counter and herbals
  • Other matters related to your health

Plan ahead for your visits by writing down the questions and concerns you want to raise. Share them with your provider at the beginning of each visit. Also, share your ideas and beliefs about your health problems and treatments with your provider.

For more information go to:

Be Tobacco Free

  • Don't use tobacco in any form. If you are using tobacco, the VA can help you quit.
  • Avoid second hand smoke. If you are pregnant, both you and your baby will benefit when you quit using tobacco.
  • For tips on how to quit, visit You Can Quit Smoking Now.
  • To talk to someone about how to quit, call the National Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW.
  • For more quit-smoking resources, the Healthfinder website and search for "tobacco."
  • If you would like information about VA programs to help you quit smoking, please contact Dr. Lisa Burgess at 602-277-5551, ext. 5272.

Eat Wisely

We all should eat a wide variety of foods to get the daily nutrients we need. Eat wisely to maximize your health. Eat a variety of foods including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It is important to include fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products in your diet, and limit salt, fat, sugar and alcohol.

For more information:

Be Physically Active

Avoid inactivity - Some activity is better than none. Try to aim for at least 2-1/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Every 10-minute session counts! Do strengthening activities at least two days each week. Although you should work at your own pace, it is better to spread your activity out throughout the week. 

Slowly build up the amount of time you spend doing physical activities. The more time you spend, the more health benefits you gain. If you are not physically active now, start small: Walking briskly, mow the lawn, dance, swim, and ride a bike -- these are just a few examples of excellent moderate aerobic activities.

Do muscle strengthening activities at least two days a week. Include all the major muscle groups—legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders and arms.

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Strive for a Healthy Weight

If you need to lose weight, losing even a little will help. If you are of normal weight, maintain it. Staying in control of your weight helps you be healthy now and in the future.

To find the weight range that is right for you, check your Body Mass Index. The BMI is a measure of your body fat based on your height and weight. Visit the BMI calculator from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to find out what your BMI is.

To stay at a healthy weight, balance calories from what you eat and drink with calories you burn off by your activities.  To prevent gradual weight gain over time, make small decreases in food and beverage calories and increase physical activity.

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Limit Alcohol

If you choose to drink alcohol, drink in moderation (Women should average no more than one drink a day AND drink no more than seven drinks total per week. Men should average no more than two drinks per day AND drink no more than 14 drinks total per week). Avoid “binge drinking.” Binge drinking means drinking so much on one occasion that it leads to health and safety risks such as car crashes and injuries. This usually occurs after about four drinks for women and five drinks for men. If you are concerned about your drinking, please talk to your VA health care team about getting help. A standard drink is generally defined as one 12-ounce bottle of beer or wine cooler, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. If you are pregnant, do not drink any alcohol.

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Get Recommended Screening Tests and Immunizations

Get recommended preventive services including screening tests and immunizations. Recommendations for preventive services depend on your age, gender, health status and family history. Find out which screening tests and immunizations are recommended for you!

You can find a list of the recommended services for men and women at these websites:

Manage Stress

Pay attention to stress.  Tools are available to help you manage and reduce your stress. Most people have some stress in their lives.  It’s important to learn how to manage the stress in your life because stress contributes to your risk for health problems.  You may not be able to remove stress from your life, but you can learn what stresses you and how to take care of yourself during periods of stress.

VA also has excellent programs to help you manage post-traumatic stress disorder.  Talk to your provider about your concerns, and learn about the many ways VA can help you manage stress in your life.

For information on the PTSD Program, call 602-277-5551, ext. 2507.

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People who have strong ties to family and friends have higher levels of well-being than those without such support. These networks give you many benefits:

  • a feeling of connection to other people
  • the knowledge that other people consider you a friend
  • the security of knowing you can help others and they will help you.

Be Safe

There are actions you can take to protect yourself and those you love from harm. Common safety issues are avoiding sexually transmitted infections, falls, and motor vehicle crashes.

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