By Dr. Norman Brown
UTU Medical Consultant

Baseball legend Mickey Mantle once joked, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.”

I wish more of us, including myself, would look into their crystal balls of the future and find themselves saying this old half joke to others, years from now. I want to try to convince you that your efforts today – no matter what your current age – will pay off for your own health and happiness in future years.

Some interesting scientific studies recently reported very significant facts:

  • People who exercise regularly land in nursing homes less often.
  • People who exercise and lose weight are less frail.
  • People who are more active physically are less at risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

How do we get ourselves into life-style patterns of more exercise and less weight?

It is not easy, based upon my own personal experience and experience of working with thousands of patients over the years as they made the valiant effort.

There is another study worth mentioning – one of people working to lower their cholesterol levels. All were scanned with an electron beam that identifies cholesterol plaques in their arteries. Each was told of their cholesterol level before starting a program of diet and medication.

Those who had the most severe accumulation of cholesterol plaques were almost twice as likely to be faithful to their diets and medication as those with the least plaques.

Do you have to be frightened to stick to a blood-vessel healthy life style? Maybe, but I hope not – especially if you start early in life to become aware that putting undue stress on your body now may make life a lot less fun for you later.

Extra calories, particularly cholesterol-laden ones – and especially if accentuated by excess alcohol – put extra stress on your blood vessels and heart system, to say nothing of your bones and joints. Reducing the calorie intake and exercising are a huge benefit.

Now, a word about smoking. Leaving aside the risk of smoking triggering a cancer problem, we also know that smoking may affect the arteries. Many experts believe that the expected weight gain after stopping smoking is less harmful than smoking itself, so please think about this fact and stop if you can – and work on the weight later on. I know that many of you have already quit, so more power to you!

Many studies have shown that emotional stress, depression, or unhappiness in general may correlate with physical medical disorders – so-called psychosomatic diseases.

My goal for each of you is to work toward a healthy life in both body and mind – which are, in fact, inseparable.

Just the fact that you have taken the trouble to read, and get to the bottom of this column, tells me you are on the right path. So, keep it up. Your families need you to be as happy and as fit as possible for as long as possible.