Living a fulfilling life starts with paying attention to your mind and body.
“The long-term effects of good and bad health habits are cumulative. Simply put, you can’t look beyond your past,” Dr. William Roberts, a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Minnesota, said via email.
Getting enough physical activity and seeing your doctor regularly is a good place to start, says CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“There’s a lot of evidence that we can do things proactively to improve our longevity and quality,” said Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Here are some habits worth developing to give yourself the best chance of living a longer, happier life.
1. Regular screenings
Young people tend to have fewer chronic diseases than older adults, but prevention is key, Wen said. “For example, if you screen positive for prediabetes, there are things you can do to prevent developing diabetes.”
Annual checkups also allow you and your doctor to get to know each other, she adds. “The best time to see a doctor isn’t when you already have symptoms and need help — it’s about building and building that relationship on a regular basis so your doctor can understand your health.”
2. Sustained physical activity
Getting enough physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke, Wen said.
“There is a lot of research supporting that regular aerobic exercise can extend not only lifespan but also cognitive function,” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of Atria in New York City and clinical associate professor of medicine at NYU Grossman. medical school.
3. Healthy BMI
4. Proper nutrition
Eating more plant-based foods can provide a good source of antioxidants, Goldberg said. “Oxidation is a hallmark of stress in our systems and can lead to changes in plaque buildup such as arteries,” she said. “And this oxidation is also associated with aging.”
At mealtime, at least half of your plate should be full of fruits and vegetables, Goldberg says. Also, it’s “not just what’s on the food, but how you prepare it,” she adds. “So baking and grilling is better than frying.”
5. Be mindful of your mental health
Mental health is often “such a neglected part of our overall health, but actually makes a huge contribution to overall health and well-being,” Wen said.
Goldberg said the past few years have brought stress and anxiety, which can affect blood pressure, sleep, dietary choices, and alcohol or smoking cessation attempts.
6. Get enough sleep
People who get less than seven hours of sleep a night tend to have higher levels of stress hormones, blood sugar and blood pressure, Goldberg said.
7. Drink less alcohol
“Alcohol has long been linked to a healthier heart,” Goldberg said. But “heavy drinking can actually be a direct toxin to the heart muscle and lead to heart failure. It also raises (blood sugar levels) and causes weight gain.”
8. No smoking
“Smoking is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of developing many types of cancer — not just lung cancer, but diseases like breast cancer,” Wen said. It also “increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other life-shortening diseases”.
Wen added that if you’re a habitual smoker, it’s not too late to quit smoking to prolong your life.
9. Build strong relationships
If implementing all of these habits feels like a lot, think of them as a gradual process, Win said. “We may not always be perfect in everything, but (there are) things we can do to improve one or more aspects, and we can work on improving that way of life,” she said.