Ten tips for a healthy life

June 17, 2013
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables are among the 10 tips to living a healthy life.

What’s the formula for a healthy life?

Your ten steps to better living start here:

1. Keep moving — Even if you’ve been a couch potato for years, it’s never too late to start exercising. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days, but you don't have to go to a gym.

“Exercise doesn’t have to be on a treadmill,” says UCI Health internist Dr. Rajesh (Robby) Gulati. “Take a brisk walk. Use the stairs, not the elevator. Find ways to move more.”

2. Watch what you eat — Eating a healthy diet is simple: Eliminate fast and processed foods; instead choose fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and dairy products. Eating at home is important, too.

“The average restaurant meal has 800 calories and is loaded with salt and fat,” Gulati points out. “When you cook at home, you know what you’re getting.”

3. Drink more water – and green tea and coffee — Water influences most body processes, including heart rate, blood pressure and kidney function. Recent studies have shown that green tea and coffee cut stroke risk by 20 percent.

4. Get your Zzzzzs — Sleep is essential for good mental and physical functioning. Less than six hours of sleep a night affects memory and learning, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and the immune system.

“Aim for at least eight hours, and if you get seven, that's great,” Gulati says.

5. Choose your primary care physician carefully — You and your doctor are partners in sickness and health, working together to maintain your well-being over the long term. Select a primary care provider you trust — one you’re comfortable asking questions and sharing information with.

6. Don't smoke — Smoking harms nearly every organ in the body, but the risk of lung cancer and heart attack drops dramatically two years after a person quits. If you've tried and failed, don’t give up. Persistence pays big dividends in this case.

7. Avoid tanning beds — Once considered less harmful than being out in the sun, tanning beds are now known to be just as dangerous and are linked to a dramatic rise in skin cancer.

Tanning also ages your skin, suppresses your immune system and can damage your eyes.  

8. Chill out — Finding effective ways to cope with life's challenges is one of the most important things you can do for your health, Gulati says.

Seek out activities that relax you and give you, whether it's a hot bath, doing yoga or going for a walk on the beach.

9. Connect — Social interaction is crucial for emotional and physical health. “You don't need five hundred friends on Facebook,“ Gulati says.

“You do need a few close friends you can talk to — in good times and bad.”

10. Practice compassion — Kindness is an extraordinary healing force, according to Gulati. “If you do nothing else, be compassionate. It's what is lacking in today's world,” he says.

“Helping others is a powerful medicine.“