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

Burning calories without exercise

 How to burn calories without exercise, from resting with a book to sitting and breathing. Try intentional non-exercise physical activity, like brisk walking or taking the stairs. More »

5 foods to eat (almost) every day

Eating better doesn’t require making drastic changes. Women can improve their diet by adding nutrient-packed foods such as salmon, blueberries, plain yogurt, nuts, and Brussels sprouts. (Locked) More »

Does apple cider vinegar have any proven health benefits?

Apple cider vinegar is the subject of many health claims, but these have little supportive medical evidence. While it appears to have no harmful effects, people should avoid using it to whiten teeth, which can damage tooth enamel, or to remove moles, as it can burn the skin. (Locked) More »

Losing weight helps your partner slim down, too

People who make an effort to lose weight by joining a weight-loss program can help their partner do the same. Researchers believed this was due to a “ripple effect” in which people are more likely to adopt their partner’s new healthy habits. More »

The health benefits of shared living

Living with others in older age has many benefits. It may help stave off health risks brought on by loneliness and isolation, and it may provide companions who are able to assist older adults with household chores, personal care, and transportation. Common living situations for older adults include moving in with adult children, taking on boarders, or living with friends. In these situations, it’s important to set boundaries and establish ground rules about privacy and expectations. More »

Wearable weights: How they can help or hurt

Wearable weights serve several purposes. Wearable wrist weights can substitute for a dumbbell for people who can no longer grip weights in their hands. Wearable ankle weights can make the muscles work harder for people who do targeted leg and hip exercises. A weighted vest may be useful when worn on a walk. But wearing ankle or wrist weights on a walk may cause muscle imbalance. It’s best to check with a doctor before incorporating wearable weights into a workout. More »

Salad greens: Getting the most bang for the bite

Most salad greens contain essential dietary nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and even water. Some of the most nutritious greens include spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce. But some greens, like iceberg lettuce, aren’t nutrient powerhouses. They don’t have to be avoided, but it’s best to mix them with more nutritious greens. About two cups of greens is the equivalent of a one-cup serving of vegetables. The USDA recommends two cups of vegetables per day for women ages 51 or older, and two-and-one-half cups per day for men ages 51 or older. (Locked) More »

The surprising side effects from using technology

Using electronic devices, such as smartphones and computers, can lead to joint pain. Frequent texting can cause strain or overuse injuries of the tendons that run from the wrist to the thumb (a condition called De Quervain’s tenosynovitis). Pushing buttons too hard can lead to inflammation around the tendons and pulleys that bend the fingers, increasing the risk for trigger finger (stenosing tenosynovitis). Typing can worsen carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Looking down at devices for long periods can lead to neck pain. Pain relief may come with rest and changing the way one uses electronic devices. More »