Unhealthy lifestyle. It's a common contributor of our biggest health
problems: stroke, heart
disease, diabetes, cancer. What do the nation's
top physicians recommend to keep your heart, mind, and body in optimally good
For the secrets to a long healthy life, WebMD turned to Richard A. Lange,
MD, chief of cardiology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. His advice:
By Aviva Patz
Ballet, piano, French lessons, soccer practice. You and your child have
dozens of fun-sounding classes to choose from, but how do you know which
activity to choose and when to start? And how do you know if you're pushing
your kid too hard? "What's most important is simply exposing kids to a
variety of activities so that they'll discover what they like and are good
at," says Ellen Booth Church, a Key West, FL-based former teacher and
author of Everything You Always Wanted...
You brush your teeth every day; exercise is equally important for
your daily routine. Turn off the TV or computer, and get at least 30 minutes of
exercise every day.
To work your heart, it's got to be aerobic
exercise. You've got lots of options: walking, jogging, biking, rowing machine, elliptical machine, swimming. But don't feel like you have to be an
athlete. Walking is great exercise. Get 10 minutes here and there during the
day. It all counts.
Start with something simple, like parking in the far corner of the parking
lot -- so you get those extra steps to the door. Take the stairs one or two
flights instead of the elevator. If you take public transportation, get off one
stop early and walk the rest. Get out at lunch to walk. Or walk with your
significant other or your spouse after work. You'll get a bonus -- relaxation
and stress reduction.
2. Healthy diet.
Quit eating junk food and high-fat fast food. Your heart, brain, and overall
health are harmed by foods high in saturated fats, salt, and cholesterol. There's no getting
around it. You've got to replace them with healthy foods: lots of fruits,
vegetables, fish, nuts, olive oil -- what we call the Mediterranean diet. Eat like an Italian, a Spaniard, a
3. Weight loss.
Too much body weight puts your health
at great risk. When you take in more calories than you burn, you get fat --
it's that simple. You've got to eat less. You've got to exercise more. You've
got to push yourself to make these lifestyle changes -- but you've got to do it
to help avoid serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, or
4. Regular physical exams.
Tell your doctor your family medical history. Learn your personal risk
factors, and the screening tests you need. Women may have mammograms to screen
cancer and Pap tests for cervical cancer. Men may have prostate
cancer PSA tests. Routine screening for colorectal cancer should start at
age 50, perhaps earlier if colon
cancer runs in your family. You also need regular diabetes, blood
pressure, and cholesterol tests. Make sure your immunizations are up to
date. You may need flu
and pneumonia shots, depending on your age.
5. Less stress.
When a person says they're too busy to exercise, it tells me other things
are crowding out what's important in life: They don't spend time with family
and friends; don't exercise enough; don't eat right; don't sleep properly. All these things
stress in your life, and that is critical to your health and longevity.
To be healthy, we need to set boundaries -- and set limits on work hours. We
should not be working so hard that we're neglecting the things that keep us
healthy. This is important advice, too, for people who take care of elderly
parents or young children. Make sure you're getting proper exercise and sleep
-- and that you're not trying to do too much.