The choices we make with regard to how to live our lives may be influential to our general health, and can range from your diet to even getting cosmetic treatment like laser hair removal. The dangers of excessive drinking, drug use and smoking are well-documented yet many people continue to abuse these substances.

Smoking

Smoking is directly linked to numerous serious illnesses including cancer, heart disease and respiratory illnesses such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Quitting smoking can significantly improve your health, as well as saving a considerable amount of money. There is a lot of help out there if you want to quit; for advice and to find out what help is available you should contact your GP.

Alcohol

Most people like a drink now and again but excessive drinking can be extremely harmful. Alcoholism can seriously damage the liver and can result in conditions such as cirrhosis. Alcohol can also inhibit your ability to make a judgement or react to a stimulus and can therefore contribute to accidents. Prolonged drinking can be expensive and can have serious implications for your work and social life; research suggests that alcohol is a serious contributor to relationships and marriage breakdowns. Several charities offer help for those suffering from problems related to alcoholism; these include NHS support programmes and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Drugs

The effects of taking drugs can be unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Drug addictions can have serious health implications; conditions relating to drug abuse include irregular pulse rate, racing heart rate and high blood pressure to name just a few. There are also serious social consequences related to drug addictions and it can become an extremely expensive habit.

Exercise

It is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three times per week; this will help to keep your heart healthy and contribute to a stronger immune system. People who exercise regularly are generally more self-confident and are also less likely to suffer from anxiety and stress. Exercise can be a form of catharsis, particularly for those who have stressful home or working lives.

Exercise need not be boring; cardiovascular exercise can be practised in several forms which can be fun. Swimming, running, cycling and applying team sports such as football or netball can all be great ways to keep the body fit and healthy. It may also be advisable to attend a gym or exercise lessons; this way you can go with a friend, which may make it more enjoyable and less daunting. If you feel self-conscious exercising in front of other people there is a now a vast range of DVD workouts which you can do at home and the internet also has numerous resources with advice on how to exercise.

Aside from the numerous health benefits which include lower blood pressure, stable body weight, increased circulation and healthier organs and muscles, research has proven that exercise helps to boost confidence as well as enabling people to form more positive relationships with others. In addition to this, exercise also helps people to sleep better which can reduce stress and anxiety and help people to work to their full potential.

Obesity

Obesity is an increasingly relevant issue in modern society; current trends indicate that the rate of obesity is increasing at an alarming rate across the Western world. Obesity is a condition brought about by excess weight; this is usually categorised by having a BMI of over 30. Obesity carries several health risks including heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Excessive weight gain is usually attributed to eating a diet which is high in fats and simple carbohydrates; this may include lots of processed and fried foods such as chips, as well as sugary foods such as chocolate, cakes and biscuits.

The safest way to lose weight is to eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in regular periods of exercise. Losing weight gradually is generally considered to be better for you than rapid weight loss. Lots of diets involve cutting out food groups and drastically reducing your calorie intake; these methods can be detrimental to health. You should seek the advice of your GP before you embark upon a diet.

Anorexia and Bulimia

Just as the rate of obesity is climbing, the rate of eating disorders related to extreme weight loss is also increasing; many attribute this to the size zero culture being flaunted in Hollywood and the fashion world. Young girls and women are particularly affected by these conditions. Anorexia and bulimia can have extremely serious health implications and can be fatal. The body is not able to function efficiently when it does not have the food to fuel it; prolonged starvation can eventually cause the muscles to waste away and the organs to break down. There are several support groups available to provide support and advice for those suffering from eating disorders; your GP will also be able to help you.