There are certainly people who smoke, drink and eat in excess and still live to be 95 years old. There are also people who win the lottery. Your odds of being either one are not good.
The good news is there are several great moves you can make to improve your chances for and long and healthy life – and feel good in the process. The lottery, not so much.
Move Your Fork
Great living starts with great eating, and great eating starts with fresh veggies and fruits. These should take up most of your plate, and the bigger the variety, the better. Next come whole grains, nuts and lean proteins like seafood and fat-free/low-fat dairy. These provide filling fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and the right balance of carbs and proteins to fuel your body.
Avoid empty and extra calories found in sugary sodas and food products loaded with corn syrup, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup and molasses. The same goes for foods with high amounts of saturated or trans-fats, refined grains such as bleached white flour, and sodium. These can contribute to chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Check the labels before you buy pre-packaged foods.
Plan and prepare your meals ahead of time so you are less likely to opt for unhealthy choices. Serve yourself smaller portions and eat slowly. You can also make healthy substitutes for unhealthy ingredients. For example, make a veggie egg white omelet instead of one with sausage and cheese. Plain yogurt is a good substitute for sour cream, and olive oil for margarine. There are some great ideas at our Healthy Recipes page.
Move for Life
Exercise lowers your risk of chronic illness and improves your odds for a long and active life. It also improves your mood. A good goal is 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This can take the form of brisk walking, recreational sports, housework, yard work or any other activity that raises your heart rate.
It’s OK to start slow with your exercise program. Remember, any exercise is better than none. Find something you enjoy and keep at it. Increase your time and intensity a little at a time. You don’t have to run a marathon the very first day.
Move the Ashtray
If you smoke, quitting will greatly improve your odds for a longer life. Quitting also reduces your risk of heart attack, cancer and coronary heart disease. If you need help, the American Cancer Society is the place to find it.
Making healthy life changes is not easy, but the sooner you start the better. Remember, that every healthy choice you make is a step toward a longer, healthier and happier life.