Staying Healthy

Maintaining good health doesn't happen by accident. It requires work, smart lifestyle choices, and the occasional checkup and test.

A healthy diet is rich in fiber, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, "good" or unsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. These dietary components turn down inflammation, which can damage tissue, joints, artery walls, and organs. Going easy on processed foods is another element of healthy eating. Sweets, foods made with highly refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages can cause spikes in blood sugar that can lead to early hunger. High blood sugar is linked to the development of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even dementia.

The Mediterranean diet meets all of the criteria for good health, and there is convincing evidence that it is effective at warding off heart attack, stroke, and premature death. The diet is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish; low in red meats or processed meats; and includes a moderate amount of cheese and wine.

Physical activity is also necessary for good health. It can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression, and falls. Physical activity improves sleep, endurance, and even sex. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, such as brisk walking. Strength training, important for balance, bone health, controlling blood sugar, and mobility, is recommended 2-3 times per week.

Finding ways to reduce stress is another strategy that can help you stay healthy, given the connection between stress and a variety of disorders. There are many ways to bust stress. Try, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, playing on weekends, and taking vacations.

Finally, establish a good relationship with a primary care physician. If something happens to your health, a physician you know —and who knows you — is in the best position to help. He or she will also recommend tests to check for hidden cancer or other conditions.

Staying Healthy Articles

Fight back against muscle weakness

Muscle weakness impairs health. It slows metabolism, puts more pressure on the joints, hurts posture, throws off balance, and limits mobility. Weakness may be caused by aging, inactivity, medication side effects, or underlying conditions such as neuropathy. A doctor can help sort out the cause of muscle weakness with a physical exam and sometimes some blood tests or nerve testing. A regular program of strengthening and stretching the muscles will make a big difference in health. (Locked) More »

Take a swing at kettlebells

Kettlebells, which look like a ball or bell with a handle, can be used for most traditional dumbbell exercises. However, their signature use is to do kettlebell swings. Swings are a great whole-body exercise that can target weak muscle groups, such as the hamstrings, glutes, hips, and low back. They also provide a good cardio workout and can help to improve posture. (Locked) More »

Taking medications on the road

Taking medications on the road requires planning. Travelers must think about how much medication they’ll need for a trip, how to obtain that medication in advance of a trip, and how to pack the medication. It’s most secure—and in many states and countries, required—to leave each prescription medication in its original labeled container. It may also be necessary to bring a copy of prescriptions as well as a letter from one’s physician (on letterhead) explaining what the medications are and why they’ve been prescribed. (Locked) More »

Top 4 reasons why you're not sleeping through the night

There are many potential contributors to disrupted sleep in older age. Age can be a factor, but shouldn’t be assumed as the cause. Lifestyle habits often lead to interrupted sleep. Examples include drinking alcohol within four hours of bedtime, napping too much during the day, and consuming too much caffeine. Medication side effects can sometimes cause nighttime waking. So can underlying conditions, such as anxiety, chronic pain, or sleep apnea. Changing one’s lifestyle and treating an underlying condition can help improve sleep, as can practicing good sleep hygiene. More »