Coming clean on my obsession with the dog’s health, I brush their teeth and exercise them outdoors daily. Weekly, I bathe them indoors and I restrict their diets to dog-healthy snacks in limited quantities. Dogs with good dental health and maintained within normal weight limits have less joint arthritis, heart conditions and have improved quality of life.
If it were that easy to manage our own health. Alas, we are not hand-fed healthy habits and therefore need to keep more strict with our own lifestyle choices. If we are going to live longer, we should live better. Based on a recent medical article in The Lancet(July 11, 2019) there are five lifestyle behaviors that could positively impact both quantity and quality of life
- Calorie restrictionand healthy diet choices (with adequate nutrition): The Lancetsummarized both short and long-term effects of a nutritionally balanced calorie diet on risk factors for healthy, lean, or slightly overweight young and middle-aged people. The study found that there was a potential for 2 years of moderate calorie restriction to significantly reduce multiple heart risk factors. These benefits could be applied to “long-term population health benefits” by reducing blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and inflammation levels.
In addition, there are several studies demonstrating that fresh foods such as vegetables, nuts, berries, whole grains, seafood, poultry and olive oil reduce the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. This form of dementia negatively impacts quality of life of the patient and family members.
- Exercise: The recommended dose of exercise is 150 minutes a week. Biking, walking, swimming, evening gardening or yard work counts. Work daily to close the rings on your IWatch or meet your steps. While 10,000 steps a day is generally recommended, another study suggests that the actual goal is closer to 8000 steps a day. You choose!
- Don’t smoke…anything(enough said).
- Limit alcohol: the study recommended one glass of wine daily as a reasonably healthy choice. Most medical experts recommend under 10 ounces of wine daily for men and 5 ounces for women
- Regularly meet with friends and engage in mentally stimulating activities: Reading books and playing board games 3-4 times weekly can be socially stimulating and help to decrease brain-aging. Alternatively, watching TV is a passive activity that requires significantly less brain power. In addition, an NIH-AARP* study found that geriatric participants who watched 5 or more hours of TV daily were 65% more likely to have a walking disability within 10 years compared to similar age individuals who watched less than 2 hours daily.
Review numbers 1-5 above and adjust lifestyle to better accommodate a more graceful aging experience. Researchers found that individuals who pursued 4 or 5 healthy behaviors were 60 % less likely to develop Alzheimer’s compared with participants who scored 0 or 1. The average age of the group was 73 years old.
If you plan to live longer, you should plan to live better.
*NIH-AARP: National Institute of Health and American Association of Retired Persons (combined study)