I am now 70 years old and about half way to this point, I decided that living a healthy life was the best medicine. At the time I was about 50 pounds overweight, a smoker, drinker and led a sedentary life. My blood pressure was 140/90, my total cholesterol was 295 and the doctor was recommending both statin drugs for cholesterol and blood pressure medication.
Healthy living requires both educating yourself and acting on that new knowledge. Lifestyle issues are the biggest component in most illness. I initially got involved in walking two miles a day and read Kenneth Cooper’s book on Aerobics. I used his book to begin an exercise program of running and bicycling. I have since added swimming, backpacking, cross country skiing and weight lifting. Like Cooper’s point system, I have developed my own system and shoot for 30-60 mile equivalents per week.
My eating habits were horrible and I got involved with the American Heart Association Diet Plan. Later, I joined Weight Watchers and remain a lifetime member. I no longer attend the meetings but I do weigh in the first of every month. I quit smoking and drinking. The smoking was the more difficult but I will be celebrating my 32nd anniversary of quitting smoking on January 10th. I am 50 pounds lighter than I was then and take no medication.
The Fresno Bee had an article on December 24th that caught my eye because it cited long-term research to support a healthy lifestyle. Keep in mind that a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee a longer life but the life you have will be a higher quality life while you are alive. This article was on page C4 and is part of an ongoing series called, “Ask Dr. K”. Dr. Komaroff does an excellent job of defining what constitutes successful aging to 70 years and the contributing factors supported by the research.
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I believe if followed, it is a prescription for health. I realize that there are some limitations because these are medical studies that do not include the psychosocial and spiritual aspects. As a priest and retired psychologist, I would recommend a psychological support system of family and close friends and a theological/philosophical life road map. This provides the purpose or grander design of your life trajectory.
I would also recommend keeping a journal in which you record your daily activities. This can become an organizing feature of your life and will hold you accountable for making certain that your days are productive. It is also useful keeping a record of medical interventions, medicines, weight and exercise. I hope many of you folks who read this will see the importance of the decision to take charge of your life in general and your health in particular, especially as the new year is about to begin. It is time for some of you to stop killing yourself on the installment plan. Those who already follow a plan like this should be affirmed. Happy New Year.