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

Refueling your energy levels

Everyone has the occasional low-energy day, but constant fatigue can make people less mentally and physically active, and diminish overall quality of life. To fight fatigue and increase your energy level, eat healthier foods, exercise regularly and be sure to get enough quality sleep. However, if you have unusual fatigue, it can be an early warning of a serious illness and should be checked out by a doctor. (Locked) More »

Preventing Falls Infographic

Falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults, sending more than two million people to the emergency department each year. Falls often result in brain injuries, hip fractures, immobility, and even early death. Many fall hazards are right in our own homes, and a few inexpensive changes could lower your fall-risk. For other strategies and tips to avoid falls, check out Preventing Falls, the online guide from Harvard Medical School. More »

3 surprising risks of poor posture

Poor posture is associated with many problems, such as back pain, poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties. Poor posture can also promote incontinence, constipation, and heartburn. Physical therapists can help improve poor posture by customizing a program of exercises and stretches to improve a person’s core muscle strength and flexibility. The goal is a neutral, upright spine position—not flexed too far forward or backward. To attain the neutral spine position, one should put the shoulders down and back, pull the head back, and engage the core muscles. More »

Americans aren’t meeting exercise goals

A report published online June 28, 2018, by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics suggested that most Americans are not meeting the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. More »

Rethinking the 30-minute workout

Federal guidelines advocate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week for optimal health, which breaks down to 30 minutes, five days a week. People who have trouble finding the time for exercise can break down their 30-minute workouts into smaller segments throughout the day. Also, doing less than the required 150 weekly minutes can still offer significant health benefits compared with not doing any exercise. (Locked) More »

The hidden dangers of protein powders

Protein powder supplements can harbor health risks. They may have hidden unhealthy ingredients, such as added sugars and too many calories. Some research has found that many protein powders contain heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury), bisphenol-A (BPA, which is used to make plastic), pesticides, and other contaminants with links to cancer and other health conditions. However, chemical-free protein powders may be helpful—with medical supervision—for certain conditions, such as impaired appetite or wounds that are resistant to healing. (Locked) More »

Virtual visits and high blood pressure

It appears that people who have “virtual” office visits over the Internet are able to control their blood pressure just as well as people who have in-person follow-up office visits. More »