1. Exercise regularly (at least three times a week and preferably once a day). For most people, walking is the simplest and safest form of exercise. One study reports that walking 30 minutes a day adds 1.3 years to a person’s life. More strenuous types of exercise done in moderation and with proper pre- and post-exercise stretching is recommended. In order to increase your fitness level, exercise should increase your heart rate. Exercises involving balance and light weightlifting can help prevent falls.
2. A balanced diet is vital to good health. Foods high in fiber, fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and whole grains are essential to a well balanced diet. Elimination of”bad foods”is difficult, but a diet that limits fat is a must. Salt also should be limited, even for people who aren’t hypertensive. Refined sugar consumption should be limited.
3. Drink approximately eight glasses of water per day (not carbonated drinks). The water you drink doesn’t have to be bottled; tap water is just as good or better and is required for all bodily functions. To make sure that you are well hydrated, check the color of your urine. If it is dark gold, drink more.
4. Kick or reduce bad habits. Quit smoking; avoid alcohol and consuming excessive amounts of caffeinated drinks or other stimulants; and improper use of prescription, non-prescription and drugs.
5. Make preventive health a priority this year. Talk to your doctor about screening tests that are recommended for your age group to detect early cancer and prevent cardiovascular disease.Ask whether vitamins or supplements are appropriate for you, such as calcium and vitamin D to prevent osteoporosis.
6. Reduce stress, even though it may be easier said than done. Stress is defined generally as”things out of your control”that cause discomfort or threaten one’s sense of security. Stress contributes to many severehealthproblems, so it is important to deal with stress earlier, rather than later.
7. Sleep and rest are essential to wellness. Each person needs slightly different amounts. The average amount of sleep required is seven hours. If you are tired, get some rest. Exhaustion can lead to many illnesses.
8. Follow all regimens for disease management. Let’s face it, as we age we develophealthproblems. People with heart disease, arthritis, cancer, depression, diabetes, hypertension and other common problems should receive care from a physician.
9. See your physician at least once a yearfor a thorough evaluation. The annual physical is necessary for you and your physician to evaluate your overallhealth, go over all medications, and prescribe any changes or tests that need to be performed under the preventive maintenance program that you and your physician have agreed upon.
10. Pay attention to your body and get medical attention if you have any health concerns. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss any persistent physical or mental health issues.Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or schedule a follow-up visit if your symptoms don’t improve as anticipated.Your heal this your responsibility so make it a priority in the new year.

By Dr. Eugenia Robertson for the Maryland Gazette