I have spent the last dozen years writing about living a long healthy, happy life with your brain functioning well the entire time. Not a day goes by when I don’t read about some aspect of living a healthy life. I have taken courses in anatomy, exercise, sleep, nutrition to name only a few since starting this blog.
And yet, despite all my focus on health, if you had asked me about my chances of getting lung cancer, I would have said – very slim. I would have been wrong.
Here are some basic statistics about the disease. The average age for a lung cancer diagnosis is 70. Only about 10% of lung cancer cases occur in people younger than 50 years old. So, age is a risk factor that I had been unaware of – at 82 years old.
It ought to be a no-brainer, so to speak: Research has pinpointed seven ways people can achieve ideal heart and brain health. And – bonus – if Americans did those things, they also could help prevent many other chronic illnesses, According to the American Heart Association News.
But most people don’t, at least not consistently. What’s stopping them?
“Most of these steps require a great deal of self-regulation and self-control,” said Dolores Albarracin, a professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It’s not just getting one thing done, like going to get a vaccine, where you can do it and forget about it for a year.”
Volumes of research point to at least seven behaviors, called Life’s Simple 7, that can dramatically lower the burden of heart disease, stroke and dementia. Not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range have the potential to collectively wipe out a vast majority of heart disease and stroke and prevent or delay a significant number of dementias.
Faithful readers know that growing up in the 1940’s, I became a Wonder Woman fan as a kid. And now, you unfaithful readers know it, too. I wanted to share this piece of early comic art with you because, although it is over 70 years old and meant for children, the information, simple as it is, stands up today.
Brush your teeth, get plenty of sleep, exercise, fresh air and eat healthful foods. With the exception of the teeth, I have posted numerous times on each of Wondy’s remaining chart items. The more things change …
According to a recent British study published in the journal Scientific Reports, spending at least two hours a week outside may be good for one’s health. Nearly 20,000 English people were asked how many hours they spent in natural environments like parks, forests, and beaches in the last seven days; whether they considered their health to be good or poor; and if they felt their well-being was high or low. Those reporting nature contact of at least two hours per week were significantly more likely to report ‘good’ health and ‘high’ well-being compared to those reporting zero. (No additional benefit was seen from spending over 3.5 to 5 hours in nature.)
I shot this on a bike ride earlier this week. I love the reflections of the lights on Lake Michigan
While this association was seen even in people who did not meet current physical activity guidelines, the authors were unable to fully untangle time spent outside from time spent being active. It is possible that healthier, happier people are simply more likely to spend more time in nature or live in areas with more open space, but the association was seen even for those with long-term illness or disability. In this study, even people who needed to travel outside of their neighborhoods to reach a park or other natural area benefited from regularly spending time in nature.
As regular readers know, I am a nature lover. Here are a couple of my posts on being outside:
I think part of living a long and healthy life includes a good amount of humor. At least that certainly is true in my case. Here is a study on various aspects of humor in different situations.
Researchers report humor can be good in certain situation, but its effectiveness depends on your end goals.
Why do humorous dating profiles get more right swipes? Can being funny help solve problems? Is laughter really the best medicine?
Humor and the “good life” seem to go hand-in-hand. Funny people seem to move effortlessly through the world. Business articles and gurus prescribe humor as a key to effective workplace performance. The website for the African country of Eritrea even describes humor as “a tremendous resource for surmounting problems, enhancing your relationships, and supporting both physical and emotional health.”
Humor appreciation does not always improve utilitarian outcomes, such as decision-making or health.
“Humor, Comedy and Consumer Behavior,” a paper by Caleb Warren, assistant professor of marketing in the UA Eller College of Management; Adam Barsky of the University of Melbourne; and A. Peter McGraw of the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, looks beyond advertising to highlight how and when humor helps people reach their goals. Continue reading →
One of the courses I have taken from The Great Courses is “Lifelong Health: Achieving Optimum Well-Being at any Age” by Doctor Anthony Goodman. It consists of 36 lectures and I would recommend the course to anyone in a second if you want to learn how to live well and be functional to a ripe old age.
Dr. Goodman builds the 36 lectures around a foundation of four themes. Learning these is the key to lifelong health. These are quoted directly from the book that accompanies the lectures.
Rule One: Small changes can make a big difference. A one-degree course change for a big ship eventually makes a significant change in that ship’s trajectory. In the same way, if you start with small positive changes, over time, your efforts will culminate in a substantial positive effect on your health.
Rule Two: Moderation is key. Just as your body is designed to achieve homeostasis, so, too, is it important for you to find balance when making choices regarding food, exercise and other areas that affect your health and well-being. Some parameters and guidelines will tend to serve you well over time and I will encourage you to find the ones that work for you in the long term.
Rule Three: It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature. There are no magical places, times, pills or potions that can keep you eternally young, but there are many things you can do to improve how you feel and you live your life.
Rule Four: Remember the Goldilocks rule. At all times of your life you will have the opportunity to make the best choices that bring you joy and good health and that you can maintain and sustain.
I called this post 4Secrets of Lifelong Health even though these four rules don’t seem to be secrets to anyone. Yet, looking around us we see 66 percent of us overweight and half of them outright obese. That leads me to the conclusion that most of us don’t know how or simply don’t want to be healthy and achieve lifelong health.
If you follow these rules you will be well on your way to conquering your weight problem and being a happier healthier person.
I am a 77 year old senior citizen and can honestly say that I am healthier and happier than any time in my life. You can be, too.
Watching TV the other day, I was struck by how many ads there are for drugs to solve our health problems. We seem to think of drugs as some kind of permanent answer to problems that may only be temporary. Never mind that the list of side effects is often longer than the supposed benefits of taking the drugs in the first place.
Eat less; move more; live longer is a really simple way of living and thinking about our lives. If we put this mantra into our heads each morning, we could forget the temporary problem of weight that seems to plague most of us.
Eat good food in reasonable amounts and make sure you get some exercise every day of your life. Avoid bad habits like drinking too much alcohol and smoking. Finally, make sure you get enough sleep. Pay attention to those simple aspects of your life and you will solve a multitude of problems before they ever arise.
The following Pages have more details on these elements:
General Douglas MacArthur, Paul Newman, Angela Davis, Wayne Gretzky, Eddie Van Halen, Jules Feiffer and Ellen DeGeneres were all born on January 26.
Oh, yes, and one not so famous. It’s also my birthday. I am now 77 years old. I am happy to say that I feel great and am healthier than I was 20 years ago when I toiled in the working world.
This is my birthday picture from last year. It’s the only one I have that’s decorated.
This is from my birthday blog post last year:
One of the main reasons I feel like I have things so together is this blog. I started writing it in March of 2010 with a partner who has since left for other pursuits. From the beginning, I discovered a focus. At first it was simply trying to keep my weight down. I learned portion control and serving size. This Italian guy was surprised to learn that a “serving” of pasta was not a 10 inch plate heaped with spaghetti noodles smothered in tomato sauce. No, a serving of pasta is about the size of a baseball. Incredibly, that was a revelation to me. But I put the information to use. I began to reduce my portions accordingly. I am not going to recount all the lessons I learned in the past nearly six years, but if you want to get control of your weight, check out my Page – How to Lose Weight – and Keep it Off.Continue reading →
Sleep is one of the most important and at the same time one of the most one of the most overlooked aspects of our life in conversations about good health. I have written a Page on it – How Important is a Good Night’s Sleep?
I heard an expression the other day that stuck in my head. A woman referred to someone as a ‘food cop.’ She used it as a term of derision. A regular cop tries to protect us from criminals. I don’t hear them referred to derisively by intelligent people. So, what is so bad about being a food cop?
Presumably, a food cop is someone who pays attention to what he/she eats and tries not to overdo it. Gosh, that’s terrible. With a population 60% overweight and 30% outright obese, we don’t want anyone thinning the herd, do we?
One of the most important lessons that we as parents try to teach our children is that their actions have consequences. Yet, when it comes to eating, we completely forget these lessons and indulge in too much of not-such-good-things. That brings us full circle. Little kids do stuff just because it is fun. We overeat because pizza/chocolate/cake/you-name-it it tastes so good. We completely ignore what we know so well, namely, that overdoing consumption of empty calorie treats can only have negative results on our health, the least of which can be gaining weight. Continue reading →