Optimize Your Health

Healthier You is a one-stop shop for Floridians to access resources to promote a healthy lifestyle. From staying active to learning new recipes and boosting your nutritional intake, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) works to educate Floridians on ways to improve habits and overall health.

This is a resource for Floridians of all ages to get active, go outside, improve nutrition, and including vitamin D intake.

Healthy Habits

Create Healthy Habits

How many days does it take to form a new habit? Some studies point to 21 days as the magic number, while other studies suggest it takes months and sometimes up to a year for a habit to take hold. Health educators and nutritionists with the Florida Department of Health encourage the health benefits of small lifestyle changes: eating more vegetables and fruits, replacing high-calorie drinks with water, taking daily walks, or choosing the stairs over elevators.

So with small changes in mind, we suggest using two months, or about 66 days, to form a new habit. Start small and easy. Small steps done every day can get you started on a path to better health, and set you up for larger, more challenging, goals.

Focus on One or Two New Habits

Perk up what you eat and drink, and how you move throughout the day. If you use tobacco, the DOH’s Tobacco Free Florida program is a proven and free resource that’s helped over 200,000 Floridians quit. And because change can add and even highlight stressors in your life, this is a good time to practice ways to relieve stress.
An older man wearing a helmet and riding a bicycle in the woods

Get Active

What counts as physical activity? Any activity that gets your heart beating more, or gets your heart rate up, counts. If you’re not physically active, start small to build the habit—walking is one of the easiest ways to start. You can do it almost anywhere and at any time. Walking is also inexpensive. All you need is a pair of shoes with sturdy heel support. Walking will:

  • Give you more energy.
  • Help you relax.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Help you sleep better.
  • Tone your muscles and strengthen your bones.
  • Help control your appetite.
  • Increase the number of calories your body uses.
  • Help prevent type 2 diabetes.
  • Help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Create your own walking schedule that will work for you. Be sure to do the following:

  • Talk to your health care provider before you start your walking program.
  • Choose safe places to walk.
  • Wear shoes with thick flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb shock.
  • Think of your walk in three parts. Walk slowly for 5 minutes. Increase your speed for the next 5 minutes. Finally, to cool down, walk slowly again for 5 minutes.
  • Try to walk at least 5 times per week.
  • To avoid stiff or sore muscles or joints, start gradually.
  • Over several weeks, begin walking faster, going farther, and walking for longer periods of time.

Choose a Variety of Physical Activities

When you walk, run, lift weights, do yoga, play sports, dance, garden, or even clean your house, you’re being physically active. Different types of exercise and movement benefit you in different ways. That’s why you need to vary the types of physical activity you do during the week.

Every week, you need at least 150 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity only. Moderate physical activity is when you’re breathing hard while exercising or moving, and you can still talk and have a conversation—that’s called the talk test.

Vigorous physical activity is when you’re breathing very hard while exercising, and you can only say a few words while catching your breath.

It’s your choice on how much of each type of physical activity you want to do—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Move Your Way website has tools and tips that can help you.

At least twice a week, work on strengthening your muscles. Find exercises that work for you. You can use weights, resistance bands or your body weight.

Every day, stretch to improve your posture and balance, and to help relieve stress.

Woman in dentist office looking at her clean teeth in a mirror

Focus on Oral Health

Another critical component of overall health is your oral health - it is more important than you might realize. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with gum disease can contribute to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and other health conditions.  

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, eat a healthy diet, limit sugary food and drinks, and schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings.

A retired couple sitting in beach chairs on the sand overlooking the ocean

Support Positive Mental Well-being

Mental well-being includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellness. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Focusing on mental wellbeing is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Things you can do to support your mental well-being:

  • Take care of your health. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling.

DOH uses multi-faceted resources to address mental wellbeing in Florida. Our various programs work with patients, health care providers, first responders, county health departments, and other state agencies to effectively address these important areas and aid all Floridians.

Florida Department of Children and Families is responsible for planning, managing and evaluating a statewide program of mental health services and supports, including community programs, crisis services, state residential treatment facilities, and children’s mental health services. 

Florida Department of Veterans Affairs provides several mental health and substance abuse resources for service members, Veterans and their families.

Florida Department of Education provides resources on resiliency to ensure students have the necessary skills and resources.