Apr 07 2021

World Health Day 2021: Why health matters and how to protect it

By Priya Deshmukh Gilbile

The year 2020 is a harrowing testament to the fact that we can no longer ignore taking care of our health. As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaged the world and continues to affect lives and livelihoods, it is a much-needed wake-up call that health truly is wealth and must be safeguarded at any cost.

With World Health Day, it is an excellent time to remember that ‘Building a fairer, healthier world,’ which is also the theme of the day this year, starts with you and your actions.

Why Good Health matters

Have you ever wondered how good health is essential to living life on your own terms? We all have different dreams to fulfill and life goals to achieve. Whether it’s running a full marathon or exploring the world, or creating precious memories with friends and families, our pursuit of life goals is what keeps us going.

A healthy body and mind are critical to achieving all of that

In our fast-paced lives with constant stress, anxiety, and unhealthy habits, health often takes a backseat. Skipping workouts, reaching for junk food instead of nutritious ones, disrupting sleep by binge-watching our favorite shows, while these can offer temporary comforts, the long-term consequences on your body can be disastrous. Unhealthy habits like smoking, alcoholic binges, a decline in physical activities, late nights skimping on sleep, and poor eating habits are the leading causes behind obesity, poor eye health, chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, cancer, and more. Further, there’s a diabetes epidemic in India, which is rightly called the diabetes capital of the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, India is home to close to 77 million diabetics, and the number is on the rise, thanks to our poor lifestyle choices, among other factors.

It’s always essential to remember that holistic health also means taking care of your body and mind wellness. The cases of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders have gone up around the world, which the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated. Therefore, as we work to manage our lives due to the pandemic, taking care of your mental health and emotional well-being is more important than ever. Recurrent health problems can not only disrupt your lives but also take a massive toll on your loved ones as well. With rising costs of healthcare, medical treatments can deplete your savings considerably and even bankrupt you.

How to begin taking care of your health

Contrary to popular belief, good health is more than mere weight loss. It includes commitment to whole person health, which involves taking care of both your emotional and your physical wellness. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to overall well-being; it must be customized to your requirements.

With the internet full of information, opinion, and often contradictory views on health and nutrition, making healthy lifestyle choices can be pretty confusing initially. However, there are a few healthy habits you can adopt that can make a big difference to your life:

# Adopt a healthy eating habit: Eating healthier doesn’t mean sacrificing taste or giving up your favorite foods entirely. Healthy eating can mean making sustainable food choices that work for you in the long run, with the occasional binges. A healthy diet can keep you more energetic, boost your immunity and protect you from many infectious diseases and other health complications in the future.

# Get some movement: From weight loss, serotonin boost, improved metabolism to increased energy levels, the benefits of exercise are manifold and there are proven benefits of exercise for your mental health, too – it can help you sleep better, reduce stress and anxiety, boosts self-esteem and confidence. You must pledge to change your sedentary lifestyle and add exercise to your routine. It need not be anything too strenuous initially; even a 30-minute brisk walk daily can be a good starting point to a healthy life.

# Prioritize sleep: A good night’s sleep is essential to stay mentally sharp, focused, and maintain good physical health. Getting 7-8 hours of sound sleep daily can not only help you lose weight but can also improve your mood, boost your productivity and exercise performance, reduce inflammation and improve your immunity.

# Take care of whole person health: Just like a healthy body, a healthy and sound mind is essential for living well. Poor mental health not only has real, visible impacts on your bodies by increasing risks of various diseases such as diabetes and stroke, but it can also adversely impact every aspect of our lives. Seeking professional help is critical to taking good care of your mental health. There are many reliable online resources available to seek help and literature to educate yourself or a loved one on this issue. It may not fix your problems overnight, but it’s an essential step towards living a more fulfilling life.

# Consult a professional wherever necessary: You can make simple, healthy choices to your lifestyle, but you may need to consult a professional if necessary, especially if you’re making any drastic changes or if you have an underlying health condition like diabetes, cancer, or heart diseases. From doctors who can help you understand your health problems to nutritionists who can help you eat according to your body’s needs to even licensed fitness trainers who can help create a custom exercise plan for you, sometimes it’s best to seek professional help to build a personalized healthy living plan that works for YOU.

Get insured for complete peace of mind and access quality healthcare

A healthy lifestyle is often not enough to keep you safe from illnesses or accidents. Sometimes life throws you a curveball. You have to be prepared for these emergencies to ensure you or a loved one receives the best quality medical treatment with zero compromises, despite the rising medical costs. Medical emergencies are a part of life, therefore a comprehensive health insurance cover is a must to live a healthier life. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a testament to the importance of having adequate health insurance as a necessity for a lifetime of health and financial security.

So, this World Health Day, let’s begin our health journeys and pledge to live the best quality of life by making responsible, sensible, and healthy lifestyle choices that can help us live longer and live better! After all, Health Hai Toh Life Hai!

(By Priya Deshmukh Gilbile, Chief Operating Officer, ManipalCigna Health Insurance Co Ltd)