Full living 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 outrun 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 plenty of exercise and seeing your doctor regularly is a good start, said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“There’s a lot of evidence about the things we can do proactively that can improve both our longevity and quality,” said Wen, an emergency physician and visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. .
Here are some habits worth implementing to give yourself the best chance at a longer, happier life.
1. Regular screenings
Young people tend to have fewer chronic illnesses than the elderly, but prevention is key, Wen said. “For example, if you screen positive for prediabetes, there are steps you can take to avoid developing 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 on a regular basis to build and establish that relationship so your doctor can get a baseline of your health.”
2. Consistent Physical Activity
Getting enough exercise can lower your risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and stroke, Wen said.
“There is an overwhelming amount of research that supports regular aerobic exercise for not only living longer, but also preserving cognitive function for longer,” says Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director of Atria New York City and clinical associate professor of medicine at New York University Grossman. Medical Faculty.
3. A healthy BMI
4. Good nutrition
Eating more plant foods provides a great source of antioxidants, Goldberg said. “Oxidation is a sign of stress in our system and can lead to changes in the build-up of plaque in the arteries and the like,” 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. What’s also important is “not just what’s on the food, but how you prepare it,” she added. “So baking and roasting is better than frying.”
5. Pay attention to mental well-being
Mental health is often “such a neglected part of our overall health, but in fact contributes immensely to overall health and well-being,” Wen said.
Recent years have caused stress and anxiety, which can affect blood pressure, sleep, food choices, alcohol consumption or attempts to quit smoking, Goldberg said.
6. Lots of 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 “heavy 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. No smoking
“Smoking is a major risk factor that increases the likelihood of multiple cancers — not just lung cancer, but things like breast cancer,” Wen said. It also “increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and other conditions that shorten people’s lives.”
If you’re a regular smoker, it’s not too late to quit to prolong your life, Wen added.
9. Build Strong Relationships
If implementing all of these habits seems like a lot, think of them as a gradual build-up, Wen said. “We may not always be perfect at everything,” she said, “but (there are) things we can do to improve in one or more dimensions, and we can commit to that kind of improvement in our lifestyle.”