20 Things Doctors Wish you’d do Stay Healthy

5 Sep


By Alyssa Shaffer


You’ve heard it before: Eat a healthy diet, exercise and don’t smoke, and you’ll add years to your life. In fact, one study found that more than half of all deaths from chronic diseases among women could be avoided by following these commonsense strategies. But there’s more to good health than just these basic tenets. “There are many surprisingly simple things you can do to improve your health,” says Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “It’s up to you to make smart choices on a daily basis.” Doctors give their best advice for keeping you in the pink.

Learn How to Relax
You can’t always control when stress hits, but you can control how you handle it, says David L. Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. The key is to first acknowledge its presence. When you feel theanxiety coming on, give yourself a brief time-out. Do some deep breathing–inhale through your nose for five full counts, then exhale through your mouth for five full counts–until you start to feel calmer. To counteract chronic stress, like a demanding job, build in ways to blow off steam. “Not everyone relaxes by doing yoga or meditating-a brisk walk or smashing a tennis ball might be better,” says Dr. Katz. “Just figure out what works for you.”

Know Your Resting Heart Rate
It could help your doctor identify if you’re at an increased risk of having a heart attack. In a study of nearly 130,000 postmenopausal women with no history of heart disease, researchers found that those whose hearts beat the fastest at rest were 26% more likely to have a coronary event–independent of other factors like whether they smoked or exercised. To find your resting heart rate, spend an extra minute in bed when you first wake up (hey, it’s a good excuse!) and feel your pulse either on your wrist or neck. Count for 30 seconds and multiply by 2; for best results, do it three days in a row and take an average. If it’s above 75, talk to your doc.

…And Your Waist Size
The larger it is, the greater your risk of heart trouble, finds a recent study from Harvard and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden of more than 80,000 women and men. Researchers blame abdominal fat, which is associated with cardiovascular disease risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high cholesterol and high triglycerides. In the study, every 4-inch increase in women’s waist size was associated with a 15% higher risk for heart disease–even in people who were at a healthy weight. “A waist size above 35 inches in a woman (and over 40 in men) is a potential risk factor, not only for heart disease but also for other conditions including diabetes,” notes Nieca Goldberg, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine, medical director of New York University’s Women’s Heart Program, and author of Dr. Nieca Goldberg’s Complete Guide to Women’s Health.

Respect Your Mouth
Floss and brush daily and you’ll be rewarded with more than just a bright smile. “Your oral health has a major influence on your systemic health,” says Dr. Roizen. “The same bacteria that cause gum disease in your mouth can set off an immune reaction that may lead to wrinkles, heart disease and even stroke.” Several studies have linked periodontal disease to an increased risk of heart disease (some speculate that gum disease may cause chronic inflammation, which can in turn cause swelling around the arteries).

Drink Tap Water 
Most bottled water isn’t just expensive and bad for the environment. It also typically doesn’t contain fluoride, which can help prevent tooth decay. Can’t stand the taste of tap? Use a carbon filter, which helps remove pesticide residue and other chemicals.

To read more on this subject, click here.


One Response to “20 Things Doctors Wish you’d do Stay Healthy”

  1. healthy October 5, 2009 at 8:36 am #

    really good post thanks, made me think.

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