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

Free services to help your health

There are many free services that can help improve health. Grocery store workers can point shoppers toward fruits and vegetables that are in season and the freshest cuts of meat. Pharmacists may be able to dispense free prescription medications or free advice about how to use medications, and even take a person’s blood pressure at no charge. Some universities offer free online academic classes. Some nonprofit organizations provide free food to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. And many organizations offer free exercise classes for older adults. (Locked) More »

10 tips to get you exercising regularly

The challenges of balancing the demands of family, work, and other responsibilities can make it difficult can make exercise a low priority, but it's important to stay as healthy as possible to enable you to meet all those challenges. It's possible to find time for your fitness goals by changing your thinking and behavior. (Locked) More »

Better balance: Activities to keep you on an even keel

Many types of common physical activity can help improve balance. For example, climbing stairs without holding onto the railing trains the body to balance on one leg and improves leg stability. Playing tennis challenges coordination and reaction time, which helps balance. Tai chi and yoga train the body to shift in space and control movement. Other common activities that can boost balance include playing golf, walking sideways or backward, and playing soccer. Before starting any of these activities, one should get a doctor’s okay first. More »

Pulse power: Easy ways to make plant-based proteins a regular part of your diet

Pulses are legumes harvested for their dried seeds, such as chickpeas, lentils, and dried peas and beans. They’re an important source of protein, fiber, and many other nutrients. Now pulses are being used in products such as pastas, crackers, and even brownie mix. When buying pulse-based products, it’s important to check the ingredients list to see if the pulses are just filler or are the bulk of the product, and whether the product is loaded with sugar, sodium, and saturated fat. (Locked) More »

The health hazards of insufficient sleep

Sleep experts say we should get at least seven hours of slumber each night. But as many as one in three Americans routinely sleeps for less than six hours—a trend that can have serious health ramifications. A single night of poor sleep can leave you feeling cranky and unmotivated. You may be too tired to work efficiently, to exercise, or to eat healthfully. And over time, continued sleep deprivation raises the risk for a number of chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Insufficient sleep can also leave you more vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. There's even some evidence that insufficient sleep makes your more prone to the common cold if you're exposed to the cold virus. More »