Dr. Keith LaScalea is an internist and associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell.
If you smoke, stop as soon as possible. Smoking cessation is the most important thing you can do to improve your health. There are more tools now than ever before to aid in this critical behavior change. Quitting even after age 50 has been shown to increase longevity. Speak to your doctor today about ways to quit.
Eat a salad every day. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has been shown to improve blood flow and reduce vascular complications including heart attacks. The more colorful the produce you include, the more you can “eat the rainbow” of phytonutrients. Throw in celery and sunflower seeds for an excellent crunch. An olive oil and vinegar dressing makes it even healthier and will keep you fuller for longer.
Move! Even a little movement improves your health. Walking for even 10 minutes a day can reduce your risk of dying. In a cohort study of 2110 adults with a mean follow-up of 10.8 years published in September 2021, participants taking at least 7000 steps/d, compared with those taking fewer than 7000 steps/d, had a 50% to 70% lower risk of mortality
Stay socially active. Studies have shown that loneliness worsens outcomes for people with medical or psychological problems. Despite the isolation that the pandemic may have caused you, we can always call or teleconference with friends and loved ones to stay connected. Get involved in a book club, movie group, or quilting bee in your area.
Get your blood pressure checked. Blood pressures less than 120/80 put you at lower risk for future kidney disease, heart attacks and strokes. All of the steps above will help you lower your blood pressure and can add years to your health.