Tips to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

Tips to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

Achieve these five basic healthy living goals to live a long, healthy life.

Most of you want to dance your way past retirement—literally. In fact, one Cleveland Clinic survey found 60 percent of folks say they are now doing activities they hope will help them live healthier and longer. But at the same time, many of you report being discouraged by your attempts to clean up your act. So, we have three important concepts for you to embrace:

  1. It’s never too late.
  2. You have a lot of control over your health and happiness.
  3. It’s fun to feel good.

Set healthy goals to live by
We know that if you achieve five basic healthy living goals between the age of 40 and 50, you can reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease, such as cardiovascular problems, type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis, by an astounding 90 percent.

Your goals: Lifestyle choices work together to help you achieve what we call the life-changing Six Normals:

  • Blood pressure at or below 120/75
  • Lousy LDL cholesterol below 100 (below 70 if you have diabetes)
  • Fasting blood glucose of less than100 mg/dL or A1C, below 5.7
  • A BMI below 30 (you’re best off if it is between 21 and 25)
  • No measurable blood levels of cotinine, a tobacco byproduct from inhaling first- and secondhand smoke
  • Effective management of your stress response

The emotional, physical and financial rewards of achieving those goals are enormous. At Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic, where they started a program to give employees financial incentives (major rebates on the cost of health insurance) to achieve those goals, an astounding 69 percent of folks have signed up and 43 percent have achieved the Six Normals. They’ve saved lives—and millions. If that were replicated through Medicare across the U.S., it could save the government $300 to $400 billion annually.

Healthy lifestyle changes you can make today
Upgrade your nutrition: As Dr. Mike says, “Remember food is one of your primary relationships—you want to love food that loves you back!”

  • Your first step? Don’t stereotype food! Change when you eat; 10 am, eat dinner for breakfast. Dr. Mike loves a salmon burger with sweet potato and broccoli. (You can cook it the night before); 1pm, have a moderate meal; 6pm, your lightest meal of the day (try salad and a touch of lean protein, or just eat breakfast for dinner). You’ll consume your food when your metabolism is most revved up and you’re the least insulin resistant. That lowers inflammation and insulin resistance—both triggers of chronic diseases.
  • Step Two. Change what you eat. Ditch red/processed meats, fast fried foods, ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages.

Embrace physical activity: Move and move often. Dr. Mike has a treadmill desk; he writes on the computer while going 1.7 MPH; does conference calls at 3.3MPH and logs 10,000 steps a day. You should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise a week and try to do at least two 30-minute strength-building sessions weekly.

Manage your stress—and sleep: Stress boosts inflammation, taxes the heart and brain and disrupts sleep. Only around 60 percent of you get the recommended seven to eight hours of shuteye nightly—further upping your risk for heart disease, stroke and dementia. The solution: Physical activity, meditation (Dr. Mike says six minutes of breathing meditation morning and night helps him stay calmer) and staying in contact with friends and family. You’ll rest easier at night and feel relaxed during the day.

Eliminate exposure to first- and secondhand smoke: Join a quit smoking program if you smoke and banish secondhand smoke from your home. Since 1964, at least 2.5 million Americans have died from exposure to secondhand smoke and around 1,300 people die every day directly from smoking.

You’ll feel physically and emotionally stronger when you achieve these upgrades to your health. And having confidence in your health transforms your quality of life for years—and years—to come.

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