By Sonja Rosen, M.D.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year! What better time than now to resolve to achieve better health? My resolutions are to 1) exercise every day with my family, 2) start practicing the cello again, and 3) continue to read more literature.
Here are 10 resolutions for better health at any age:
Eat a well-balanced diet low in saturated fats.
A Mediterranean, heart-healthy diet rich in olive or canola oil, fresh fish, lean meats, red wine (in moderation), whole grains, walnuts, and organic fruits and vegetables helps decrease bad cholesterol and your risk of developing heart disease or diabetes. Non-fat Greek yogurt is highly recommended, and what I now eat for breakfast every morning with a scoop of blueberries. Make sure there is no added sugar or artificial sweetener!
“Use it or lose it!”
The more you move your limbs, the better. Walking for 20 minutes five days a week can help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, heart disease, and diabetes. However, be careful not to overstress your body and joints, and always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
Maintain a healthy weight.
Losing weight at any age can be difficult, but it is worth it. Don’t be overwhelmed if you have a lot of weight to lose. Set a realistic goal for yourself and consider getting help from a diet program like Weight Watchers. Losing just a few pounds around your waist can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes.
Use your mind.
As with your body, “use it or lose it” applies to your mind too. Instead of watching television, you might read a good book for an hour. I love mysteries, and my favorite series is the “Sir John Fielding” mysteries by Bruce Alexander Cook.
Even if you have had a difficult year or suffered the loss of a loved one, try to focus on the positives. Remember all of your many blessings — your friends, family, health, and independence. Positive thinking benefits your overall health.
Socialize with family and friends!
Get a Facebook account and get reacquainted with your old grammar or high-school buddies! Attend free concerts or join a book club, temple, or church. These days, you can even reconnect with old friends on the internet.
Listen to classical music!
Studies show that classical music, in addition to providing personal enjoyment, helps heart health and also can reduces stress, anxiety, and tension.
Establish a relationship with a primary care provider (PCP).
Whether you see a geriatrician, internal medicine specialist, or family medicine doctor, it’s important to have a primary care physician who can help you stay healthy via preventive efforts or regain your health during an illness.
Make sure to get enough sleep.
Chronic sleep deprivation adversely affects mood and also is associated with long-term health consequences, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Therefore, getting adequate sleep can help increase life expectancy. The ideal amount varies per person, but make sure you feel well rested in the morning.
Enjoy life and seize the day!
Do something you love. There is no time like the present to accomplish what you want to do.
Dr. Sonja Rosen, board-certified in both geriatrics and internal medicine, is a geriatrician with the highly ranked UCLA Geriatrics Program in Santa Monica. She is also medical director of the Geriatrics Unit at UCLA’s new Santa Monica campus. Call 310.319.4371 for more information.