Many scientific studies have looked at genes, social groups, diet, religion, physical activity and health care to determine the secret to healthy aging and a longer life.
According to Sridhar Vijayasekaran, MD, a cardiologist with Samaritan Heart & Vascular Institute, what they’ve found is that having a socially active, meaningful life paired with a low-calorie diet is the key to healthy aging. Add to that equation good habits and good health care, and you are making the best choices possible for a long, healthy life.
“Good habits mean a healthy diet and regular exercise,” said Vijayasekaran. “The evidence suggests the Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk for heart disease up to one-third. It also helps to eat two servings of fish a week, and to consume flavonoids, a micronutrient found in certain foods such as coffee, walnuts and almonds. The flavonoids found in red wine are healthy, and although we don’t recommend you start drinking if you aren’t already, moderate consumption may be beneficial.”
He also recommends aerobic exercise like walking, running, biking and swimming, which are all good exercises that strengthen your heart. These activities increase your energy levels and endurance, lower your blood pressure, improve your balance, muscle tone and strength, as well help you get a good night’s sleep, so you feel more relaxed and rested.
The final piece to help you in your quest for a healthy heart is to visit with your doctors as needed — don’t put it off! You should know your body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, fasting lipids and fasting blood sugar levels. If you snore, discuss this with your doctor too. Managing sleep apnea will also improve the function of your heart.
“Discuss these numbers with your doctor and set healthy goals for improvement,” said Vijayasekaran. “In addition, under the guidance of your doctor, an aspirin regimen can help keep your heart healthy as natural aging stiffens blood vessels and slows your heart rate.”
Practicing healthy aging will not just increase the length of your life; it will decrease your chance of developing chronic diseases and improve the quality of your life.