Five Ways to Live a Longer and Healthier Life
By Lauren Hill
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 600,000 Americans die every year of heart disease, and heart disease accounts for about one out of every four deaths. Living a longer and healthier life is not as difficult as most people think. Often, strict diets and gym routines can seem overwhelming. Instead of viewing health as a chore, view it as an exciting new lifestyle. There is more to life than eating tasteless food and spending time at the gym. Similarly, effectively reducing your chances of heart disease can give you a better life as well as a longer life.
• Get outside and do something fun
Getting about an hour of mild exercise each day is a great way to start living a healthier life. Instead of trying to squeeze time at the gym into your busy schedule, schedule fun activities with friends and family. One great thing about mild exercise is that time spent walking adds up. Walking around the park and playing Frisbee with your kids is a fun way to have a relaxing afternoon. Taking mass transit can also help save money while getting light exercise. Taking a 10-minute walk to and from the train station or bus stop from your home every workday can give you 20 minutes of guaranteed light exercise every day.
• Find a few hobbies that you enjoy
The gym is not for everyone. Some people prefer different types of activities to get enough moderate exercise per week. Basically this is the type of exercise where you get your heart rate into its target zone for a cardio workout and have it stay there for a while. Some different activities include boxing, joining a sports team, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, swimming, dancing, horseback riding, and running. Many people find that it is helpful to have a friend to complete the activities with them.
Hobbies that do not involve a lot of physical activity can also be helpful, as long as they get you out and about. Taking up activities that get you outside the house or office such as photography, ceramics, woodworking, and spending quality time with your kids outside can help your overall quality of life and heart health. Instead of being a couch potato, be active. More important, find something you enjoy doing. Instead of deteriorating on the sofa while eating chips, do something fun. You can find opportunities to meet new friends and spend time with people you care about.
Some different activities include boxing, joining a sports team, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, swimming, dancing, horseback riding, and running. You may need equipment from a provider like Baseball monkey or Sporting goods to do many of these hobbies, do your research before you pick one.
• Eat well for the rest of your life
Eating well does not have to be as difficult as it sounds. Most popular diet plans are not sustainable for everyone. Sooner or later, most people want to stop counting calories or have a piece of wedding cake. Many people do not know how much easier (and cheaper) cooking simple meals at home can be. After a long day, spend ten minutes making scrambled eggs with vegetables, toast, and a sliced apple for dinner. Other easy ways to cut calories without noticing include drinking water instead of soda and eating smaller portions at restaurants by taking half of large entrees to go.
• Adopt a dog
Having a dog can arguably be the cheapest exercise plan you could ever buy. Plus, the right dog will hold you accountable for daily walks, rain or shine. It is a lot easier to bail on a gym class than ignore a dog that is carrying his leash around the house. Many pet owners report that a dog can also help provide companionship and unconditional love. Having a pet may lower blood pressure by reducing stress as well as increasing exercise.
• Adopt a healthy lifestyle forever
One main problem when adopting a healthy lifestyle is that a part of it is not sustainable. Some people love getting up at 5:00 every morning to go to the gym, but others can’t stand it for very long. Instead of forcing yourself to do something you hate for a few months to drop a few pounds and have a healthier heart, find activities that you enjoy. Similarly, instead of going on a crash diet, find simple ways to make your diet better by eliminating things you won’t miss or finding simple dinner solutions.
Live longer and live better
Other top causes of death (e.g. auto accidents) are often unavoidable. To live longer, focus on having a healthy heart. Furthermore, instead of focusing only on living longer, think about ways that you can live longer and enjoy your life more than ever.
Lauren Hill writes for Cardiac Vascular & Thoracic Surgery Associates, a Virginia surgery group specializing in robotic, transplant and open heart surgeries.
Lauren Hill is a contributing author for American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP), a non-profit organization supporting the growth of concierge and other forms of personalized medical care.