We surveyed some of the nation's leading health professionals to learn the best ways to stay healthy. Here is their guidance on nutrition, fitness and making smart everyday choices.
The everyday lifestyle adjustments most important for greater health:
- Take a daily 30-minute walk.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Spend time each day with a friend or loved one.
- Reduce your consumption of junk food, such as cookies and chips.
- Cut back on refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, white rice).
Harmful eating habits most important to change to improve your long-term health:
- Drinking soda at most meals and for snacks.
- (Tie between 2-4) Eating several fast-food restaurant meals each week.
- Eating two or fewer servings of vegetables each day.
- Bingeing on pizza, hot wings, nachos or other "social foods" a few times per week.
- (Tie) Eating ice cream, cake, doughnuts or other sweets every day.
Being angry, worried or stressed more often than feeling happy.
"Get into the habit of a brisk daily walk with a friend. The aerobic conditioning gets your heart to pump oxygen and nutrients to your brain; the conversation will further strengthen your neural circuits."
— Gary W. Small, M.D., professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
"Pay attention to early warning signs and keep up with screening exams."
— Robert N. Golden, M.D., dean, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"I would argue for 'eat less meat and more plants.' "
— David L. Katz, M.D., director, Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center
"A major source of stress on the body is an irregular schedule. Try to eat, sleep and exercise at the same time every day."
— David B. Agus, M.D., professor of medicine and engineering, University of Southern California
"Engage in a new activity that stimulates you physically, mentally and socially. Ballroom dancing, bowling, biking or birding — just to name a few 'B' possibilities!"
— Reisa Sperling, M.D., director, Center for Alzheimer's Research and Treatment, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston
"Everything in moderation, including moderation."
— Bruce Leff, M.D., director, Center for Transformative Geriatric Research, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
"Understand that there is NOT a magic bullet but, rather, the accumulation of small decisions and actions over a lifetime."
— Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., dean, Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
"Do everything you can do to avoid being alone. Find an active group to belong to and participate."
— John J. Ratey, M.D., clinical associate professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School