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5 Simple Ways to Protect Your Health

Most households in the U.S. are falling back to standard time this month as daylight saving time comes to an end. As you relish the thought of having an extra hour, here are five great ways to put your extra time to good use by taking steps to protect your health. 

1. Rest – Yes, getting rest can be a big factor in helping you protect your health. Losing an hour of sleep has been linked to health risks, such as viral infections, weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and mental illness. 1 Take the change to standard time as a perfect opportunity to indulge in an extra hour of sleep and give your body the rest it needs to better ward off illness and disease.

The Mayo Clinic recommends 7–9 hours of sleep for adults. 2 To learn more about helpful ways to get extra Z’s visit mayoclinic.com.  

2. Make a wellness appointment – If you haven’t made a wellness appointment yet, now is the perfect time. During regular wellness visits to your physician, dentist or optometrist, you can address important questions about your health and learn how to prevent related health risks. Additionally, many insurance providers want you to be healthy and encourage preventive steps to protect your health. For example, some Aflac insurance policies pay a Wellness Benefit each calendar year when a covered person receives a covered wellness procedure. Take charge of your health by scheduling a checkup today.

*Recent health care reform legislation now requires insurance plans to cover certain wellness services. To view a list of covered services, visit healthcare.gov.

3. Take a look at your benefits – Spending just one hour to become familiar with your options can save you big when it comes to benefits. While many individuals choose the same plan year after year, that can be a dangerous strategy because plans and coverage often change. Be sure to ask questions you have, and take advantage of options such as supplemental policies, retirement savings or 401(k), and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). These programs can provide a safety net plus pre-tax savings for expenses you plan to spend throughout the year to help you protect your loved ones and your budget.

Did you know that many Americans say they make costly mistakes selecting benefits during their open enrollment period that can cost them up to $750 annually? Ask your employer for the opportunity to talk to a benefits consultant or HR representative to help decide on the coverage that’s right for you. 3

4. Check your smoke alarms and other home safety devices – Alarms and home safety devices are critical to protecting the ones we love, but these devices are often overlooked. Usually, you can test them all in a matter of minutes by quickly pressing a test button on smoke or carbon monoxide alarms, and checking the expiration date on fire extinguishers. Devices like smoke detectors should be checked monthly, so take the time now to start a schedule for regular maintenance. Don’t leave your health to chance — protect yourself by taking an extra hour to test and update these important home safety devices.

Almost one-quarter of smoke alarm failures is due to dead batteries. 4

5. Have fun – Who says fun is a thing of the past? Not only is fun — well, fun — but researchers have also found play to be necessary for physical and mental health, just as much as getting enough sleep, eating well and exercising. It can even help you to be more productive and successful. So, get out there and do something just for the fun of it.

A recent JWT Intelligence study found: 5

  • 91% of U.S. adults agree it feels good to be silly sometimes.
  • 92% agree play should not only be a part of children’s lives, but adults’ lives too.
1 Harvard Health (2012), "Improving Sleep: A guide to a good night’s rest," accessed on October 9, 2012, from health.harvard.edu/special_health_reports/improving-sleep-a-guide-to-a-good-nights-rest.
2 Mayo Clinic (2010), "How many hours of sleep are enough for good health?" accessed on October 9, 2012, from mayoclinic.com/health/how-many-hours-of-sleep-are-enough/AN01487.
3 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, a study conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac, January 24–February 23, 2012.
4 National Fire Protection Association (2012), Smoke Alarms, accessed on October 10, 2012, from nfpa.org/categoryList.asp?categoryID=278&URL=Research%20&%20Reports/Fact%20sheets/Fire%20protection%20equipment/Smoke%20alarms&cookie%5Ftest=1.
5 JWT Intelligence (2012), "Play as a competitive advantage," accessed on October 6, 2012, from jwtintelligence.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/F_Play-As-a-Competitive-Advantage_07.11.2012.pdf. 

*Beginning on or after September 23, 2010.