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

Greater fitness linked to a longer life

Very high fitness levels, similar to those of endurance athletes, appear to lower the risk of dying from any cause in a given period. The survival benefit from extreme fitness may be most notable among people ages 70 and older and those with high blood pressure. More »

How to spot the most common “food fakes”

Marketing claims on food packages can be misleading. For example, a claim may say that a product is made with real fruit, even if it actually contains only a small amount of real fruit. The easiest way to a healthy diet is to eat whole or minimally processed foods whenever possible, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and vegetable oils. When buying processed products, one should look at the ingredients list and the Nutrition Facts label, buy products that have the fewest ingredients, and choose products that contain familiar ingredients. (Locked) More »

Lessons from the masters

Elite level older athletes still face the same fitness challenges as regular people, but have developed strategies to help them maintain their health and reach their goals. By following their advice and insight, older men can learn how to exercise smarter to maximize their workouts, how to overcome obstacles like health issues, and how to stay motivated after a setback or during lazy days. (Locked) More »

Gifts to inspire healthy eating

There are many gift ideas to inspire healthy eating. Kitchen tools—such as a stem stripper or mezzaluna knife—may encourage a person to eat more vegetables. Someone who has trouble getting food to his or her mouth because of tremors may appreciate a gift of adaptive eating utensils. Other gift ideas to inspire healthy eating include small appliances that help create healthy meals, such as a spiralizer, a frozen fruit dessert maker, or an air fryer. When shopping for a gift, one should consider the recipient’s dietary needs, dexterity, and physical ability. (Locked) More »

Legumes: A quick and easy switch to improve your diet

Eating too much red meat may raise the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer. Substituting some servings of red meat with legumes can provide similar nutrition, but less saturated fat. Legumes include beans, peas, and even peanuts and are a great source of plant protein. (Locked) More »

Season of receiving: Use free services to stay independent

Nonprofit groups offer many types of health-related services. Examples at the local level include low-cost dental clinics, emotional support groups, meal or grocery delivery services, transportation, in-home health evaluations, exercise classes, health education classes, home evaluations for fall prevention, companion programs, and caregiver respite services. Examples at the state or national level include services to link people to free or low-cost prescription medications, hearing aids, and gently used home medical equipment. To find such services, one can ask for referrals at a doctor’s office, a local senior center, or a local Area Agency on Aging. More »

Should you add foam rolling to your workout routine?

Foam rolling helps release tension in the muscles, relieve muscle soreness, and improve flexibility and range of motion. It’s not clear exactly how that happens, although it could be that foam rolling and sustained pressure on the muscle signals the central nervous system to reduce muscle tension, similar to the effect of a deep tissue massage. Most people will benefit from foam rolling as part of a pre or post-workout routine, or simply as a quick break from sitting. (Locked) More »

The wonders of winter workouts

Exercising in cold weather may have some special benefits people don’t always get in summer, such as improved endurance and protection against seasonal affective disorder. While cold-weather exercise is usually safe, people should first check with their doctor, especially if they have conditions like asthma or heart problems. Also, they should take extra care during workouts, such as wearing protective clothing, choosing safe spots to exercise, and making sure to hydrate. More »