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  • Writer's pictureDr. Thomas Bailey, MD

8 Ways You Can Live Longer

In 2010, the American Heart Association introduced “Life’s Essential 7”, a list of specific ways we can improve our health and live longer.  Since then, the list has been revised, and now is made up of eight things which are referred to as “Life’s Essential 8”.  Following these eight ways, you can live longer and improve your cardiovascular health.  They are the following:

 

 

1)    Maintain a healthy diet

The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) and Mediterranean diets have the best evidence to support them as the most effective diets to follow for weight loss and reduction of cardiovascular disease.  While other diets such as the keto diet, “carnivore” diets, and intermittent fasting or time restricted diets have shown some benefits, they have not yet been proven to improve long term health outcomes as well as the Mediterranean and DASH diets.

 

2)    Stay active

Engage in moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking or playing sports, for 150 minutes a week. Break it into 30 minutes activities per day, 5 days a week. In addition, perform strength activities 2 days a week, such as weightlifting, resistance training, or cycling.

 

3)    Avoid smoking

Don’t start, or if you already smoke, talk to your doctor about helping you quit.  There are several medications available to help with quitting that are effective.  Alternative methods such as meditation and hypnosis may be helpful for people who do not wish to use these medications or have failed them in the past.

 

4)    Improve sleep

Set a target to obtain good quality sleep for 7-9 consecutive hours each day.  If you are having difficulty sleeping, talk to your doctor about conditions which may be affecting your sleep quality, such as stress or sleep apnea.

 

5)    Maintain a healthy weight

Your body mass index (BMI), a relationship of your weight to your height, is a powerful indicator of health.  You can calculate it using calculators readily found online.  Strive to obtain a BMI between 18.5 to 25.  Please note that the BMI does have several limitations, such as the inability to distinguish between muscle mass and fat mass, and its inability to easily factor in your sex and age to the calculation.  It has nonetheless been found to be a quick, convenient and inexpensive marker of health over the last several decades.

 

6)    Optimize your lipid levels

Keeping your non-HDL cholesterol below 130 has been shown to improve health outcomes.  Your HDL cholesterol is also known as the “good” cholesterol, which helps to keep the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from sticking to the walls of blood vessels and causing blockage.  So, keeping your non-HDL cholesterol low is essential.

 

7)    Optimize your sugar level

Keeping your sugar level below 100 is important as higher levels lead to or may be a sign of pre-diabetes and diabetes.

 

8)    Control your blood pressure

Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic (top number) of 120 or less and diastolic (bottom number) of 80 or less.  High blood pressure can lead to damage to your brain, heart, and kidneys, as well as damage to blood vessels throughout your body.

 

 

So now that you know the 8 things to live longer, make the change today!  See your doctor, get to know your numbers, and start living a healthier and happier life.




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