Health Beat: 3 Tips for Path to Better Health

Quit Smoking, Sleep Well, Know Your Family History: Keys to Well-Being

January 31, 2024
An image shows Dr. Tami Hendriksz, Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California.
Dr. Tami Hendriksz, Dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Touro University California.

There are certain things people can do right away that can provide health benefits now and for years to come.

They include the obvious – quit smoking; the less obvious – having a complete family medical history to share with your health care team; and one you can start today – getting a good night’s rest.

Dr. Tami Hendriksz, Interim Chief Academic Officer at Touro, Dean and CAO of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and a DO Class of 2006 alumna, says all three are important for improving and maintaining a person’s overall health.

You Know It, Now Do It: Quit Smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking, and your family and friends can help.

“Quitting smoking is one of the most impactful decisions you can make for your health,” Hendriksz says. “Not only does it improve your lung function and cardiovascular health, but it also reduces the risk of various cancers. The benefits extend far beyond the immediate, positively influencing your well-being for years to come.”

Taking action to quit smoking has immediate and long-term benefits and can also protect the health of your loved ones. Learn how easy it is to get support to quit for good.

Family History a Potential Treasure Trove

You should also learn your family history, the CDC reports.

If you have a family history of a chronic disease – such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or osteoporosis – you may be more likely to develop that disease yourself.

“Understanding your family's medical history is like having a roadmap for your health journey,” Hendriksz says. “It allows us, as health care providers, to tailor preventive measures and screenings based on your genetic predispositions. Knowledge is power when it comes to managing and mitigating potential health risks.”

Family gatherings offer a chance to find out details that you can share with your doctor. And if you missed such as opportunity this holiday season, now is a good time to lean-in and gather your family information.

You can use the U.S. Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait to record the details.

Don’t Discount the Importance of Good Sleep

Sleep is essential for good physical and mental health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep every day.

“A good night's sleep is a cornerstone of overall health,” Hendriksz says. “Quality sleep supports immune function, cognitive performance, and emotional well-being. Establishing a consistent sleep routine is an investment in your present and future vitality.”

If you are struggling to get the rest you need, check out these tips for better sleep, along with these recommendations for healthy sleep habits from the American Academy of Sleep.