As a veteran, your health and well-being are essential for your personal growth and ability to maintain a fulfilling life after serving your country. Unfortunately, according to a study by Veterans Affairs, many veterans face health challenges due to the nature of their service and the stress that comes with it. 53% of veterans experience a chronic physical condition, and 33% suffer from chronic mental health issues.
The good news is that there are many ways for veterans to stay healthy and fit, both physically and mentally, after serving the nation. So, let’s explore some of the best tips that can assist veterans enjoy a healthy lifestyle:
1) Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is crucial for veterans to maintain good health and fitness, especially after experiencing physical and mental challenges during service. Exercises along with walking, cycling, swimming, weight training, and yoga can help improve mental health, cardiovascular health, endurance and power, and overall quality of life. It is essential to start slow and gradually increase the intensity and duration of the activity and work with healthcare providers to develop an exercise plan that suits their individual needs.
2) Get Regular Check-Ups
Staying healthy and fit is especially important for veterans, who may face unique physical and mental health challenges. By getting regular check-ups, healthcare professionals monitor your health and identify potential health problems early on and suggest treatments, which can improve your prognosis outlook and reduce the risk of severe health complications.
Regular check-ups also allow veterans to discuss concerns about their health, including chronic conditions or any new symptoms they may be experiencing. Veterans and their healthcare practitioners can collaborate to create a personalized healthcare plan that considers their needs and health issues.
3) Maintain A Healthy Diet
A nutritious diet can help maintain a healthy weight, boost energy levels, and lower the chance of developing chronic illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Veterans can maintain a healthy diet by following these tips:
- Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables: Vegetables are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that the body needs to function correctly. Veterans should consume at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.
- Have a solid breakfast: Breakfast is an important meal that can help jumpstart the metabolism and provide energy for the day. Veterans should aim for a breakfast high in protein and fiber, such as eggs with whole grain toast and a side of fruit.
- Eat light snacks: A balanced diet can include healthy snacking, but it’s essential to pick nutritious options like fruit, nuts, and seeds. Veterans should avoid sugary and processed snacks that can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking enough water is good for health. Veterans should aim for at least eight glasses of water daily and avoid sugary drinks such as soda and juice.
- Limit processed foods: Foods that have been processed frequently include a lot of calories, bad fats, and added sugars. Veterans should limit their intake of processed foods and choose whole, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
4) Maintain Social Connections
Veterans who have served in the military have a strong sense of camaraderie and connection with their fellow service members. However, after leaving the military, they may struggle to maintain those connections and feel isolated.
To combat social isolation, veterans can stay connected with friends and family, participate in social activities, and join community groups or organizations. These activities help veterans maintain a sense of purpose and belonging and provide physical and mental stimulation opportunities.
There are many ways for veterans to stay connected with others, such as joining a local sports team, volunteering at a community organization, or attending social events. Using technology and apps, such as video calls with family members or online support groups, can also be essential for staying connected.
5) Get Enough Sleep
Obesity, despair, and anxiety are just a few physical and mental health issues that can result from sleep deprivation. To receive the rest they need to stay healthy and fit, veterans should set a regular sleep pattern and aim for 7-8 hours each night. Additionally, sleep is crucial for the body’s capacity to regenerate and repair tissues, which is important for veterans who may have had stress or injuries while serving.
6) Find A New Hobby
Engaging in a new activity can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment and improve physical and mental health. Hobbies such as gardening, woodworking, painting, or learning a new musical instrument can help to reduce stress, enhance cognitive abilities, and promote physical activity. Veterans can explore different options and find a hobby that interests them and fits their skills and preferences. Trying new things can also provide a sense of accomplishment, boosting self-esteem and confidence.
7) Manage Stress
Health disorders like high blood pressure and heart disease and mental health problems like anxiety and depression can all be brought on by stress. Veterans should therefore discover methods for controlling their stress levels, such as participating in regular physical activity like yoga, meditation, deep breathing techniques, or tai chi. Additionally, some may find talking to a counselor, psychologist, or group therapist helpful. Other options include:
- Spending time with loved ones.
- Taking breaks from technology.
- Practicing mindfulness techniques such as journaling.
8) Spend Time Outdoors
Veterans can go for walks, hikes, or bike rides in local parks, forests, or nature reserves. They can also engage in outdoor sports like golf, tennis, or basketball. Besides, fishing, hunting, and camping are other popular outdoor activities that can be enjoyable and provide a sense of accomplishment. Being surrounded by nature can also help reduce stress and promote relaxation, positively impacting overall health and well-being.
Staying healthy and fit is crucial for veterans to maintain a high quality of life. Veterans can increase their resilience by using the advice provided in this article to improve their physical and mental health, lower their risk of developing chronic diseases, and improve their overall well-being.
Regular exercise, eating a balanced and nutritious diet, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and seeking support are just a few strategies veterans can use to maintain their health. By prioritizing their health and committing to a healthy lifestyle, veterans can enjoy a happy, fulfilling, and productive post-service life.