Living life to the fullest starts with paying attention to your body and mind.
“The long-term effects of good and bad health habits are cumulative. Simply put, you can’t outgrow your past,” said Dr. William Roberts, a professor in the department of family medicine and community health at the University of Minnesota, via email. .
Getting enough physical activity and seeing your doctor regularly is a good place to start, said CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“There is a lot of evidence about things we can do proactively that can improve our life expectancy as well as quality,” said Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the Milken Institute’s School of Public Health. George Washington University. .
Here are some habits worth implementing to give yourself the best chance for a longer, happier life.
1. Regular examinations
Young people tend to have fewer chronic diseases than older people, but prevention is key, Wen said. “If you test positive for prediabetes, for example, there are steps you can take to prevent progression to diabetes.”
Annual checkups also allow you and your doctor to get to know each other, she added. “The best time to see your doctor isn’t when you already have symptoms and need help — it’s regularly to build and establish that relationship so your doctor gets a baseline of your health.”
2. Continuous physical activity
Sufficient physical activity can lower the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, Wen said.
“There is an overwhelming body of research that supports regular aerobic exercise not only to live longer, but also to preserve cognitive function longer,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of Atria New York City and New York University Grossman Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. School of Medicine.
3. A healthy BMI
4. Proper food
Eating more plant-based foods provides a great source of antioxidants, Goldberg said. “Oxidation is a sign of stress in our system and can lead to changes in plaque buildup in the arteries and such,” she said. “And this oxidation is also associated with aging.”
At mealtimes, at least half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables, Goldberg said. Also, what is important is “not only what’s in the food, but how you prepare it,” she added. “So baking and boiling is better than frying.”
5. Pay attention to mental well-being
Mental health is often “such an overlooked part of our overall health, but it actually contributes a huge amount to overall health and well-being,” Wen said.
Recent years have brought stress and anxiety, which can affect blood pressure, sleep, dietary choices, alcohol intake or efforts to quit smoking, Goldberg said.
6. Too much sleep
People who sleep less than seven hours a night tend to have higher levels of stress hormones, blood sugar and blood pressure, Goldberg said.
7. Drink less
“For a long time, people have associated alcohol with a healthier heart,” Goldberg said. But “Huge alcohol intake can actually be a direct toxin to the heart muscle and result in heart failure. And it also raises (blood sugar levels) and causes weight gain.”
8. Not smoking
“Smoking is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of multiple cancers — not just lung cancer, but also things like breast cancer,” Wen said. It also “increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other life-shortening conditions.”
If you’re a regular smoker, it’s not too late to quit to extend your life, Wen added.
9. Build strong relationships
If implementing all these habits seems like a lot, think of them as a gradual build, Wen said. “We may not be perfect at everything all the time,” she said, “but (there are) things we can do to improve in one or more dimensions, and we can commit to that kind of style improvement of life.”