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

Core Exercises: Pelvic Curl

Harvard fitness expert Michele Stanten takes you through a simple exercise to tighten your abs, strengthen your back, and improve your balance. More »

A thousand rideshare options for older adults

The United States has about a thousand rideshare services that cater to older adults, according to a CDC-funded study released Dec. 5, 2019, by NORC, a nonprofit research organization based at the University of Chicago. More »

Boredom busters to revamp your exercise routine

When an exercise regimen becomes tedious, there are several ways to make it more interesting. Examples include adding challenging moves, such as a lunge that ends with raising dumbbells overhead, and pairing exercise with other interesting activities, such as hiking and photography or walking while listening to music or a favorite podcast. If adjusting an exercise routine doesn’t increase interest, it may be time to try a brand-new exercise, such as ballroom dance, shadow boxing, step aerobics, or tai chi. More »

Longer work week, higher blood pressure

People who worked 49 or more hours each week were more likely to have high blood pressure than workers who were on the job fewer than 35 hours a week. This difference remained after taking into account other risk factors for high blood pressure. More »

Puppy love may help your heart

A growing number of studies show health benefits related to owning a dog. This includes improved heart health, according to two recent studies. This may be the case because dog owners get more exercise caring for their animals, and they may spend more time outdoors. In addition, the companionship may help their mental health. (Locked) More »

The best breads in the grocery store

Healthy breads are made of whole grains and have a short ingredients list. To find a healthy bread in a grocery store, one should read the ingredients list to make sure whole grains are used, and read the Nutrition Facts label to make sure each slice (or 28-gram serving) contains no more than 80 calories, less than 100 milligrams of sodium, at least 3 grams of fiber, less than 3 grams of sugar (and zero added sugar), 15 grams of carbohydrates, and no saturated fat. (Locked) More »