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

Attitudes about sexuality and aging

Fantasies can help rev up your sex life. Myths, on the other hand, can stop desire dead in its tracks. Such myths aren't the legends from classical history. They're the stories we tell ourselves and each other to support the notion that older people shouldn't, can't, and wouldn't want to have sex. This type of myth, however, bears as little relationship to reality as do the fanciful sagas of ancient gods and goddesses. Here are some examples of the most popular sexual myths and the myth-busting truths. 1. The myth: Only the young are sexually attractive. The culture we live in exalts youth. Turn on the TV or open a magazine and you'll be barraged with images of supple skin, firm flesh, and lustrous locks. But if your mirror is reflecting a different picture these days, you may feel like the party is going on without you. More »

Leisure time exercise

Like his father and grandfather before him, the typical American man of the 21st century works for his living. In most cases, though, he works with his mind, not his body. It wasn't always that way. As recently as the 19th century, 30% of all the energy used in the American workplace was provided by human muscle power; today, the percentage is minuscule. In most ways, the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial society to today's information age has been a great boon. But something has also been lost. Technology has freed men from physical labor both at work and at home. In addition, unprecedented efficiency, productivity, and affluence have produced shorter workdays, more vacation time, and earlier retirement. It all adds up to more free time for most men. More »

Sticking with your exercise program

Exercise shouldn't be something you do only when you want to drop those 10 extra pounds or prepare for the charity 10-kilometer run. To be successful, it should be something you do as routinely as eating, sleeping, and taking your morning shower. That can be difficult, as you may already know. The information below may help you stay on course when your motivation starts to flag. Remember, the result is worth the effort. The value of maintaining an exercise program became evident when the results of the Harvard Alumni Health Study were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The men who had been moderately active but later became sedentary had a 15% higher risk of death than their counterparts who had never been active. On the other hand, those who started and kept up an exercise program had a 23% lower risk of death, which approaches the 29% decrease in risk enjoyed by the men who'd always been active. But knowing the benefits of lifelong exercise or even creating a personal exercise plan will be of little use if you don't stick to your program. As you plan an exercise routine, you need to prepare for the challenges that await you, so you won't be thrown off track. Make it personal. Your first step on the lifelong path to healthy physical activity is to identify what works for you. Give some thought to what kind of activities suit your lifestyle, time constraints, budget, and physical condition. Don't forget to factor in your likes and dislikes. More »