Tips for healthy living given
Published 11:06 am Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Special to The Standard
The path to a long, healthy life is not straight and narrow but broad in the sense that it touches every aspect of life, not just diet and exercise. Unfortunately, millions of Americans mistakenly focus on one or two facets of their lifestyles and ignore the rest.
They do so at their peril, according to Dr. Robert Keith, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System nutrition and health specialist and Auburn University professor of nutrition and food science.
Healthy living, Keith says, “requires evaluating all aspects of your life and not just one or two.”
With this in mind, he offers a list of the major lifestyle practices that he believes makes up the big picture of healthy living.
Good nutrition is essential. People who consume adequate amounts of complex whole grain carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, protein and low-fat dairy foods with a heavy emphasis on antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables face significantly lower risks of heart disease and certain types of cancer, Keith stresses.
Healthy eating may not get you very far if you don't get adequate amounts of daily exercise.
The alternative -- remaining sedentary -- has been shown to be as big a risk factor as poor diet in terms of promoting the development of hypertension, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
An initial exercise program could be as simple as making an effort to walk every day -- for example, parking your car several blocks away and walking the extra distance. Over time, this could be expanded into to a somewhat more rigorous effort, such as walking or jogging several miles a day.
Regular medical checkups screen for major health risks such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and other potentially life-threatening diseases.
.A good health plan is not complete unless it excludes smoking - hardly surprising considering that this habit is strongly linked to cardiovascular diseases, emphysema and lung cancer.
Never downplay the merits of sleep, adequate sleep. Adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night. Over time, anything less than this increases stress on the body.
Granted, no list can claim to be a guarantee of perfect health. But certainly people who follow these lifestyle practices have a far better chance of living a long and healthy life than those who don't.