COLUMBIA, SC – December 31, 2008 – The Healthy SC Challenge is the Sanford family’s effort to get all South Carolinians to do just a little more to live a healthier lifestyle. The tips are designed to encourage individuals and communities to live healthier lifestyles in three categories – nutrition, exercise and help to quit smoking. The tips can also be found on the challenge’s website, www.healthysc.gov.
MUSC’S Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Healthy Aging
1. Visit physician annually: This resolution may seem obvious or even self-serving. However, your health should be priority – a professional should assist you in this quest. An annual history and physical exam should be routine and should be determine if anything should be added to your current health portfolio. Your physician should also determine if you should take statin drugs. You should take a list of any questions you have to help make the most of the time you have with your physician.
2. Have screening tests: Screenings tests that are vital to healthy aging include routine blood tests for diabetes, high cholesterol, prostate antigen and c-reactive protein (predictor of coronary heart disease). Regular blood pressure checks can be performed by you or a nurse. Mammography exams for women and prostate exams for men should include regular sigmoidoscopy. These screenings can detect very common cancers.
3. Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure is known as the silent killer and can lead to heart attack and stroke. It is relatively easy to detect and control. Medication, exercise and proper diet are common treatments.
4. Exercise: Exercise is probably the single most preventive strategy for overall good health. At a minimum, people should exercise for at least 30 minutes, four times a week. Many types of exercise can be beneficial, although the exercise should produce a sweat and should increase heart rate 20 to 30 percent. Varying exercise routines help many people stick with the program.
5. Diet: You probably have heard the saying that you are what you eat. Indeed, a healthy diet can result in a healthier future. Foods high in fiber have been shown to prevent cancer and lower cholesterol. Iron is present in green vegetables, and fruits are much healthier than nutrient-deprived desserts. Foods high in saturated fats are unhealthy. However, oils from vegetables and olives are healthful. Although fish is generally better than meat, moderation is key.
6. Kick unhealthy habits: Of course, kicking unhealthy habits is easier said than done. Smoking and excessive alcohol ingestion can have a negative impact on health. A sedentary existence also is unhealthy. Pursuing healthy hobbies, helping others, and having a good friendship or marriage have been proven to preserve life.
7. Take aspirin: Aspirin therapy is not for everyone and should only be done under a physician’s guidance. However, a baby aspirin every day will reduce the risk of heart attack and probably stoke. Aspirin can cause bleeding problems and stomach issues, but if recommended, offers an inexpensive way to prevent cardiovascular problems.
8. Take vitamins: Vitamins are sometimes referred to as the spark plugs of the human machine. Vitamins are essential to good health. Inadequate – and even excessive – levels of vitamins can lead to acute and chronic disease. Vitamins are categorized into two groups: 1) fat-soluble (vitamins A,D,E, K) and 2) water soluble (vitamins B,C, P). The difference between these two types is important because water soluble vitamins are excreted by the kidneys and should be present in daily diet. On the other hand, fat soluble vitamins are stored in fat and other tissues. If we ingest too many of these vitamins, they can accumulate. Vitamin A, in particular, is known to be toxic. Only vitamins D and K are produced by the body. Others must be in the food we eat or in a supplemental pill or capsule. Vitamins A, C, and E are anti-oxidants and have been shown to help prevent cardiac disease and some cancers. Many multi-vitamin formulations are available over-the-counter. After consulting with your physician, you should take the formulation that best suits your needs. As you age, you probably need a supplement.
9. Take Calcium: In the past, mostly women were encouraged to take supplemental calcium. Now, both women and men who are older than 65 are encouraged to take 1,500 milligrams (mg) of supplemental calcium each day to prevent bone problems.
10. Weight watching: As we age, fat tends to accumulate. The more overweight we become, the less likely we are to live long, healthy lives. Overweight and obese people are at a substantially greater risk for developing hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory diseases, and a variety of cancers (endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon). In short, weight and obesity increase mortality. We should control our weight to prevent death.
Observing these resolutions can help lead to a healthier and happier New Year.
-Medical University of South Carolina, http://www.muschealth.com/healthyaging
The Healthy SC Challenge is an outcome-based, cooperative effort aimed at encouraging individuals, communities and organizations across the state to show shared responsibility in developing innovative ways to improve the health of South Carolina’s citizens. For more information about the Healthy SC Challenge, please visit www.healthysc.gov, or call 803-737-4772.