We are all interested in living a healthy and disease-free life. In the hectic age that we live in, attaining that goal is very challenging and can be especially difficult. There are seven simple metrics that can be looked at related to cardiovascular and total health. These metrics enable us with a much better chance of attaining the desired goal of a healthy life.
In my opinion, the most important factor in having a healthy life is complete nicotine absence. Nicotine is so deleterious to our body and future health that total abstinence is an essential key to a healthy life.
Eating an appropriate well-balanced diet is important for our overall nutrition, but is most important for how well our body functions and avoids inflammatory processes.
Physical activity enables us to stay in motion. This allows us to function properly, avoid multiple health issues, and most importantly to protect our spine, mind, heart, and blood pressure.
Maintaining an appropriate body weight is important to your health, but because everyone’s metabolism is different – what works for one person could very well not work for the next. When you combine diet and exercise along with your own genetics, you are able to create a custom plan that works for achieving your goal weight.
By maintaining a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise, you may be able to avoid or delay having to use medication for regulating your blood pressure.
Age and genetics play a large role in your cholesterol, but luckily diet and exercise can help with regulating it. Your diet is the most important factor in your control. By watching what you eat, you can reduce your cholesterol and improve your heart health.
Your body needs to effectively transport and use the sugar (glucose) in your blood. With regular exercise and a healthy diet you can increase your insulin sensitivity, which allows your body to use the sugar at optimal levels.
In regards to physical activity, it is recognized as a major tool for preventing and even treating many chronic diseases. New evidence shows it may also reduce your risk for overall mortality. Exercising regularly was linked to reduced risk of death, while sitting for more than nine hours daily was associated with increased risk of death. It makes sense that being inactive is not only bad for our heart and blood glucose levels, but it is also bad for our muscular system and spine. We have to strengthen our muscles, and keep moving. This will help to keep the blood pumping, keep our spine strong, keep us upright, and keep our joints moving.
Maintaining appropriate blood pressure, cholesterol levels and blood glucose are all factors related directly to genetics, diet, physical activity, and often body habitus. Keeping appropriate levels of these factors without medications, or surgical interventions, is the goal.
Of the seven factors, there are three that directly impact the spine: avoiding nicotine, maintaining quality physical activity (flexibility, core strength, aerobic & anaerobic conditioning, and total body strength), and maintaining an appropriate body weight. By following these components in a positive manner, it greatly improves once chance of a long-term functioning spine and thus a more fulfilling life.
While these seven measurements give us objective data points to study, our overall health is directly impacted by sleep, stress, and our mental state of happiness and fulfillment. By combining all of these points together, it enables one to live a healthier and happier life.
Dr. Thomas Schuler is a world-renowned, double board certified spine surgeon; trained in both neurosurgery and orthopedic surgery of the spine. He founded Virginia Spine Institute in 1992 and is a recognized international leader in the treatment of neck and lower back conditions. Dr. Schuler is noted among the 100 best spine surgeons in America, and serves as President of the National Spine Health Foundation as well as Chairman of its Medical and Scientific Board. Learn more about Dr. Schuler.