Your Retirement | Put a healthy body on your list this Christmas

With Christmas upon us, there’s a fair chance that many of us will over-eat and be thinking about a healthier lifestyle as a New Year resolution. Dr Ross Walker, a well known heart specialist, has this advice for anyone who wants to reduce the risk of heart disease

1. Quit any addictions: Any person with an addiction is unhealthy and this is a message we need to continually reinforce. Numerous studies clearly show the positive influence of a doctor discussing with their patients quitting smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and the complete avoidance of so-called recreational drugs. 

2. Cultivate a regular sleep habit: A recent large study from Holland demonstrated clearly that when seven hours a night of sleep on a regular basis was added to these other vital lifestyle behaviours, the rate of cardiovascular death was reduced 83 percent. 

3. Eat less and more naturally: Despite the myriad of diets promoted all over the world for weight loss, good health or any parameter you would care to name, the key to maintaining ideal body weight is calories in vs calories burnt. 

Simple advice I give to my patients is to:

  • Eat off smaller plates
  • Eat smaller helpings
  • Don’t have second helpings
  • Avoid desserts
  • Don’t graze

Simply cutting back on calories, will significantly reduce weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and therefore cardiovascular risk.

4. Exercise and move more: The second best drug on the planet is 3-5 hours per week of regular exercise. Numerous studies have confirmed the benefit of this level of exercise. The other important message here is to move as much as possible. Our bodies were designed for regular movement, not sitting for prolonged periods. 

5. The most powerful “drug” on the planet is happiness, peace and contentment: I am not implying that many people achieve this state in our very busy, stressful world, but there is strong evidence that cardiovascular diseases and many of our common cancers occur more frequently in the setting of acute and chronic life stresses, social isolation, loneliness, discontent and clinical depression.

Although there is much “lip service” given to the lifestyle aspects of cardiovascular disease, the reality is that many people have little time to focus on this vital aspect of their lives. It is estimated that the regular application of these five vital lifestyle principles in your life reduces your risk of all major diseases by somewhere between 60–70 percent.

The full text of Dr. Ross Walker’s article, plus lots of other valuable health information is available in the 50Plus book titled “How to stay Healthy, Active and Sharp in Retirement”.

It’s available on our web site at www.retirementbooks.com.au