With February being Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Month and the month of love, it’s a perfect time to embrace elements of a healthy lifestyle…

This Healthy Lifestyles Awareness Month, the Department of Health (DOH) is calling on South Africans to embrace the five elements of a healthy lifestyle.

The five elements are:

  • Good nutrition
  • Regular physical activity
  • Tobacco control
  • Interventions against alcohol and substance abuse
  • Safe sexual behaviour

Get help to get healthy

In line with governments focus, the Independent Community Pharmacy Association (ICPA) is urging the public to visit their local community pharmacy this month for help and advice on adopting healthier lifestyle choices.

“Your local community pharmacist and the pharmacy team can offer valuable advice and counselling on the five pillars of a healthy lifestyle,” says Jackie Maimin, CEO of ICPA. “Whether it is about eating right or the use of supplements and vitamins to aid a poor diet, to the optimal amount of exercise one should be getting to keep healthy. Your pharmacist can also offer guidance and referrals for further help to deal with alcohol and drug abuse issues.”

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“Smoking cessation is an area that your local pharmacy is well equipped to help you with. Your pharmacist can assess your level of nicotine dependence and give you recommendations on how best to approach quitting. They can also give you detailed information on the various products available to help you quit smoking – many of which are available without a prescription,” advises Maimin.

For those who may be engaged in risky sexual behaviour, a visit to your local pharmacy is highly recommended. “Your community pharmacist can counsel on adopting safer practices to protect yourself, and those who may be at ongoing risks – such as sex workers – can receive Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, as a way to prevent HIV infection. Further to this, you can now purchase HIV self-screening kits at your local pharmacy, allowing you to screen yourself in the privacy of your own home,” says Maimin.

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Get a wellness screening

In addition to the healthy lifestyle assistance, most community pharmacies offer a wide range of wellness screening for chronic health conditions such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

It has long been recognised that unhealthy lifestyles are a leading cause of many chronic diseases.

Chronic lifestyle-related diseases are a major health concern in South Africa and according to statistics released by insurer Discovery Health in 2018, the number of Discovery Medical Scheme members with at least one chronic condition — such as diabetes or high blood pressure — more than doubled between 2008 and 2017. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that lifestyle diseases are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

Go and get screened at your local pharmacy during February and be sure that you know your overall health status. If you have already been diagnosed with a chronic condition also get yourself checked out to ensure that your condition is being managed correctly and that you are responding optimally to your treatment.

“The good news is that small changes to your lifestyle can have a big impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Don’t be daunted by what may seem like a huge shift, but rather approach it in small “bite-sized” chunks that will slowly add up to you enjoying a far healthier, vigorous and happy life,” concludes Maimin.


While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.