Larry Jones is director of the Independence Health Department.

Some days it is just too hard to get out of bed. We have all experienced fatigue due to poor sleep, not eating right, and not getting enough exercise. As this year comes to an end and we begin 2009, perhaps we need to look at ways to improve our health, decrease our health care costs and keep a little money in our pockets.

We do many things in our daily schedule to stay in good health. We brush our teeth, wash our hands, and hopefully wear our seatbelts; all in the name of health. Doing the simple things everyday helps to keep us safe and healthy. We have seen aerobics, fad diets and a host of exercise inventions leave us in worse shape than we were thirty years ago.

So, what works? It depends on you and the commitment you make to yourself to manage your health before you need health care.

Here are 25 steps to a healthier you.

1.    Balance your exercise. Walking briskly for 30 minutes every day will burn 1,500 calories per week.

2.    Schedule family fitness time. Hiking, walking, and playing as a family creates a bond that lasts.

3.    Invest in a jump rope. Jumping for 10 minutes a day will strengthen your legs and increase bone density.

4.    Get a partner. Exercising dates are easier to keep when you know someone is going with you.

5.    Choose water. If you have aching joints or arthritis enroll in a water aerobics class.

6.    Get active at work. Take your break and take a walk. Start a walking program. Learn some chair exercises and take exercise breaks at the computer.

7.    Eat smaller meals more frequently. Note, I did not say eat more. Just divide your total daily intake into smaller meals throughout the day.

8.    Hydrate the body. Water in the body is like oil in the car. Water also eliminates the confusion between being hungry and being thirsty.

9.    Always eat a good breakfast. Metabolism or the ability to burn calories is jump started with breakfast. Most people who eat breakfast are not as hungry during the day.

10. Don't pollute your body. Avoid tobacco, excess alcohol, and drugs. Enough said.

11. Start cooking healthier. Avoid frying your food. Grill, broil, or bake for better health.

12. Enjoy every bite. Chew your food slowly. Beginning in elementary school we are taught to eat fast. The average time for elementary students to eat lunch from entry to exit into the cafeteria is 9 minutes. Think about it.

13. The early bird gets the worm. Start your day early. It resets you body clock and helps with your sleep pattern.

14. Be sun savvy. Use sun screen even in the winter. Your skin will thank you for it.

15. Stay in shape emotionally. You really can't separate your mind from your body. One affects the other. Learn when to seek help.

16. Keep your teeth healthy. The most common cause of tooth loss in adults is gum disease. Brush and FLOSS every day.

17. Eat five or more servings of fruit per day. Make them easily accessible on the shelf and in the refrigerator.

18. De-stress your life. Remember; don't sweat the things you can't control.

19. Know your family history. It may save your life.

20. Look after your mental health. Depression appears in many forms. Learn the warning signs.

21. Get a good night's sleep. Lack of sleep causes stress and is linked to high blood pressure, diabetes and many other health problems.

22. Perform regular self-exams like self breast exams and testicular exams. You are the first responder to your body's symptoms.

23. Take a power nap. It may only last five minutes, but it gives your brain a much needed rest.

24. Open your lungs. Take deep breaths or sing in the shower. It is a great stress reliever.

25. Take the time to enjoy your life. I think the term is “loosen up.” Laughing at ourselves is a great healing process.

Choose one or choose them all, but create health time in two thousand nine.