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

Bust your belly for a healthier heart

Visceral fat lies deep within the abdominal cavity and pads the spaces between your abdominal organs. While it makes up only 10% of total body fat, it can have the biggest impact on health, as high amounts are linked with a greater risk of heart disease. Following a high-quality diet is necessary to lose visceral fat, but high-intensity aerobic exercise may help even more. An ideal visceral fat-burning workout is 20 to 30 minutes of some kind of high intensity exercise, at least three days a week. (Locked) More »

Dive in for joint health

Swimming is an ideal exercise for older men to help improve overall joint health, or help them return to activity after a recent setback like an injury, surgery, or a long period without exercise. Since it’s a low-impact activity, swimming places minimal stress on the joints, and the buoyancy of the water allows people to move their limbs and joints more easily through their normal range of motion. This helps joints remain supple and improves overall flexibility. (Locked) More »

Dive into a swimming regimen

Lap swimming has many benefits for older adults. It’s great aerobic activity (which helps improve endurance and cardiovascular health and lower blood pressure); it’s great for strengthening muscles; and it helps maintain flexibility. Older adults can consider a lap swimming regimen if they’re generally healthy, are good swimmers, and get clearance from their doctors. It helps to warm up before swimming; use the proper equipment, such as goggles and a bathing cap; and stretch the muscles after a workout. (Locked) More »

The doctor will see you now, in your home

Home-based medical care enables older adults to receive regular medical care—from doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, or other providers—right in their own homes. These house calls are typically covered by insurance, as long as the health care provider certifies that the visit is medically necessary and that the patient has a condition that restricts the ability to leave home. The benefits go beyond getting necessary medical care. Home visits help foster the provider-patient relationship, and they give providers a better understanding of a person’s daily health challenges. (Locked) More »

Walk your dog, break a bone?

A study published online March 6, 2019, by JAMA Surgery identified a rising number of fractures among older adults walking leashed dogs: 1,700 in 2004, climbing to almost 4,400 in 2017. Most of the bone breaks were in the upper arm. More »

Take a swing at kettlebells

Kettlebells, which look like a ball or bell with a handle, can be used for most traditional dumbbell exercises. However, their signature use is to do kettlebell swings. Swings are a great whole-body exercise that can target weak muscle groups, such as the hamstrings, glutes, hips, and low back. They also provide a good cardio workout and can help to improve posture. (Locked) More »