How difficult is it to live a more satisfied, more active, longer life?
Many grimace at the idea of adopting new (healthier) habits. Like holding on to a coconut tree in the middle of a hurricane we can anchor ourselves to the idea that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Why not let go of that coconut tree holding you down and grab hold of something that can propel you forwards such as an Abe Lincoln quote.
"Nothing in the world is impossible to a willing heart."
Yes, anything is possible with a willing heart. Even liberating oneself from the vice-like grip of cigarettes, sugar, carbs, excessive alcohol, and/or a sedentary lifestyle.
Tips for a longer life
If you are still reading, then you are likely willing and motivated to make some changes. Harvard suggests these 10 tips to get started- no matter your age.
- Don't smoke.
- Enjoy physical and mental activities every day.
- Eat a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, and substitute healthier monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats for unhealthy saturated fats and trans fats.
- Take a daily multivitamin, and be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D.
- Maintain a healthy weight and body shape.
- Challenge your mind. Keep learning and trying new activities.
- Build a strong social network.
- Follow preventive care and screening guidelines.
- Floss, brush, and see a dentist regularly.
- Ask your doctor if medication can help you control the potential long-term side effects of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis, or high cholesterol.
Other key points from Harvard's write up include:
- Liberate yourself from smoking
- Quitting at any age progressively reduces risk of dying from cancer related to smoking- but the best results come from quitting before age 50.
- People who quit can repair some if not all of the damage done by smoking.
- Risk of heart disease begins to drop 5 months from quitting smoking.
- Within 2-4 years of quitting your risk of stroke is equal to that of a non-smoker.
- You can gain a nutritional edge on chronic disease.
- get 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day
- get 9 servings for best results
- choose fruits and veggies that vary in color to maximize nutrient intake
- Eat healthy fats
- AHA suggests to eat fish high in omega-3's like salmon, trout, or mackerel twice a week unless you have coronary artery disease. If you have documented coronary artery disease consume 1 gram a day of EPA or DHA from oily fish and supplements if your doctor advises this.
- Avoid trans-fats altogether
- Carbs are not create equal
- aim for whole-grain foods
- explore lesser known whole grains like barley, bulgur, kasha, and quinoa
- limit white breads and white potatoes
- Choose protein wisely
- Look for plant-based proteins to limit unhealthy fats found with animal proteins.
- Our resident family doctor asks for more data that supports this fat-phobia and plant over meat diet recommendation. Doc tends to recommend animal proteins so long as they are not overly processed and cooked in a healthy manner- ethically raised, slaughtered, and distributed is an idea worth supporting. Even so, check with your medical provider for personalized nutritional advice.
- Weight management suggestions
- Work with your doctor, a nutritionists, and a trainer to set reasonable goals and support small steps for success.
- Tell friends and family about your goals
- Shut down the kitchen after dinner
- Eat well, eat slowly, enjoy your food
- A moderately active person (30 minutes of exercise a day) needs 15 calories of food for each pound of body weight
- To lose 1 pound per week look to reduce or burn 500 calories a day
- Increase daily physical activity (Key Guidelines for Adults from health.gov)
- Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-tovigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.
- For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.
- Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
- Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.