Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The ABCs

Getting into and staying in the best shape possible shouldn't be complicated. It should be easy, but our brains sometimes get distracted by the trivial and the minutia. So in order to help keep my patients (and myself) on track, I recommend using this general system called the ABCs of Good Health:

  • Active
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Diet & Don't Smoke
  • Enjoyment

ACTIVE - stay active. Exercise regularly. Be sure to exercise both by doing aerobics and calisthenics. Exercise your heart & lungs by walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, or engaging in similar aerobic activities. Also do regular calisthenic including exercises such as squats, push-ups, and crunches. In people with heart disease, A can also stand for ASPIRIN and in diabetics A can stand for HgbA1c

BLOOD PRESSURE - make sure your blood pressure is OK. For most people, this means it is around 120/80. Remember, usually we cannot tell if our blood pressure is up, so we need to check it with a blood pressure monitor. You can do this at your doctor's office. Lots of pharmacies also will have a machine on-site. Check your blood pressure regularly, at least yearly. Remember, a single reading isn't that accurate, so keep a blood pressure diary, and record your blood pressure at rest, during different parts of the day. The average of 5 readings or so is likely to be much more accurate than a single reading.

CHOLESTEROL - again, this is something we cannot feel, so you need to get this checked out by getting a blood cholesterol test done at your doctor's office. Know your current cholesterol levels, and know your target levels. The target cholesterol level can vary due to several interacting factors, so discuss your results with your doctor.

DIET & DON'T SMOKE - in general, a good diet includes lots of green leafy vegetables, a wide variety of plant foods, and is low in simple sugars. Make sure your diet keeps you at a healthy weight. Does it need to be said that you shouldn't smoke?

ENJOY Life - a happy, optimistic, positive attitude seems to help the heart and help keep you in the best shape possible. Remember, we cannot know the exact day and time of our death, so live each day to its fullest.