How Social Media, the Internet, and Online Health Communities Can Be Good for You
November is National Health Blog Post Month and I have been honored with an invitation to participate. Each day in November, I’ll post a health-related article or piece of information on Self Help Daily. I’m as excited as I am honored and the reason for the excitement ties in with the subject of today’s post: Top 10 Ways the Internet Can Improve Your Health: Things I Love About social media, the internet, and online health communities.
Why I Write So Much About Improving Your Health and Health-Related Topics
Before I get to the top 13 list, I thought I’d give a quick explanation of why I write so much about health topics such as preventing diabetes, heart health, green smoothies, and so on. There are several reasons, actually, and they each have to do with people I love.
- A great number of people in my family (including the family I gained when I married my husband) have had diseases that most of us hope and pray we never experience. These diseases include diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer, uterine cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Hypertension. Not only did I watch these diseases steal a lot of the quality of loved one’s lives, I saw these diseases take a great number of them far too soon.
- Even if I didn’t write and/or run a web publishing business, I’d still research health-related topics for the sake of my husband and daughters. I’d read everything I could get my hands on that’d give me an edge in fighting off diseases that haunt our family. The information I find helps me decide what meals to cook, what activities to encourage and discourage, etc. Knowing what diseases your family is most prone to (and in our case, we seem to be open to just about anything!) gives you an edge – you know what to try your darnedest to fend off.
- I not only want to protect my family, I want to help you protect your family. Yes, I am a bona fide people person. If, when it’s all said and done, I can help prevent just one person from losing a loved family member as early as we’ve lost some of ours – it has been more than worth it.
- Not only would I like to help pass along information that could save lives, I want to find and pass along information that could help improve lives.
So. That’s why I write about Health-Related Topics. I’m trying to save the world here, okay?
13 Ways the Internet Can Improve Your Health
The internet gets a bad rap. Thanks to a lot of disgusting websites and a lot of ridiculous people on certain social media sites, the internet often comes across as a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. However, there are a lot of ways the internet can improve your health, help you prevent diseases … and potentially save… your life. This very fact is the reason I chose the number 13 for this list. Like the internet, the number 13 gets a bad rap. It’s considered to be an unlucky number, so I wanted to take it and create something positive with it – the same way we can all take the internet and do something positive with it.
- Medical Websites. You can go to WebMd.com and research symptoms and diseases any time of day or night. You’ll find things you can do to make yourself feel better and heal faster and find out when or if you need to see a doctor. There are also countless tips for preventing diseases, improving your health, feeling better, increasing your energy, and living healthy on this site as well as others such as Everyday Health and Mayo Clinic. When it comes to health advice and illnesses, I always advise people to stick with the sites mentioned here. Be very cautious where you take advice from for serious conditions. If you’re searching for ways to make a mouth ulcer feel better, by all means try whatever relief you can – but when it comes to more serious matters, never get your information from someone on a forum, for example, who goes by the handle IronMan5 or Gr8Grl. Know what I mean?!
- Real Age.com. A website so vital, so cool, and so helpful that it gets its own place in the top 10. Real Age.com is more than a website, it’s a tool. When you (honestly!) fill out the questionnaire, you aren’t just given your “Real Age” (as opposed to the year determined by your birth date ). However, it doesn’t just leave it at that. You’re given TONS of great tips and advice to help you improve your real age and your health and, thereby, increase your chances for a longer life.
- Apps. There are apps that count calories for your, apps that tell you how many calories you’re burning, and even an app that reminds you to take your prescriptions! When you search for specific apps, you’ll be amazed by what you find. If you have time, search for reviews of the apps you find. Do a little research and find the best ones out there.
- Fitness. Prevention.com is one of the best places online for fitness articles and exercises.
- YouTube Workouts! If you search YouTube for keywords such as Yoga, Zumba, Pilates, Cardio, Aerobics, exercise video, Kettle Bell Workout, etc.. you’ll find some really cool workout videos to increase your strength, stamina, and fitness level. If you aren’t careful, you may even burn some calories!
- Healthy Recipes. You can find the most amazing healthy recipes online. If you’re on Pinterest, a lot of people even have boards devoted entirely to healthy eating. If you need heart-healthy recipes, gluten free recipes, or vegan recipes, they’re literally at your fingertips. No one with an internet has the excuse of not having healthy recipes.
- Relax and Unwind. At the end of a hectic day, there’s something kind of relaxing about cruising Pinterest or catching up on Twitter. If you love cats like me, you’ll find that funny cat pictures and/or cat videos are fun ways to grab a smile or two at the end of the day. Here’s a little personal tip of mine when it comes to relaxation. After a long day writing and working online, when I get up from the computer, I want to leave all of that craziness behind and unwind. I’ll often go to You Tube and search for “Japanese Music” or “Classical Piano Music” and let it fill the house as I make supper, do laundry, or simply crash on the couch. I’m not sure anything in the world is as relaxing as piano music or Japanese music.
- Speaking of Twitter… The world has never known a better place for staying on top of important, life-effecting news. If you “follow” your local weather stations, CNN, the Weather Channel, Fox News and other authoritative agencies, you’ll always know (almost immediately) what’s headed your way. Twitter is also the first place I usually learn about food recalls too.
- Relationships. Social Media Sites don’t just help you relax – and they don’t just keep you informed. They’re also a great place for making new friends. Any time you build relationships (online or off), it’s good for you. Mental fitness experts tell us that the more relationships we have in our life, the better.
- Official Health Groups and Agencies. What better place to get information about heart health than the American Heart Association, up to the minute information about diabetes from the American Diabetes Association, or information about preventing cancer from the American Cancer Society? Follow these groups on social media, check them regularly, and (when available) take part in their forums.
- Newsletters. Just about every official health agency has a newsletter you can sign up for. They’ll deliver the latest research, tips, and medical advice right to your inbox!
- Overcome Addictions and Find Support. Whatever your own personal monster under the porch is, you can find wonderful support groups online. People who know what you’re going through and can help you overcome, persevere, and take your life back.
- Health Communities. I saved this one for last because, quite frankly, I think it’s huge. While doing research for my Self Help Daily, my food blog, and well as my mental fitness blog, I visit a lot of medial websites. Sometimes I read through their forums or I’ll read the personal stories of individuals who have either survived or are surviving a health issue. The advice these individuals have for one another is almost as vital as the support they provide for one another. Some of the strongest bonds in the world take place in these communities. Personal tips, stories, and simple words like, “I did this, you can too!” and “You’re going to make it!” can mean the absolute world to someone who needs it. Menopause, cancer, heart disease, asthma, addictions, diabetes – you name it, there’s a community for it and communities are all about strength.