Delaying ‘til Death do us Part
Ten expert-endorsed tasks for maintaining your health
By L.A. Jones
It can take years of searching to find “The One,” so naturally when you do, the two of you will want to spend as many healthy, happy years together as possible. Longevity factors under our control are pretty straightforward: exercise, eat right, stay optimistic, sleep soundly and know your risks. Easier said than done, of course.
Here are some simple but powerful strategies that will bring out the Energizer bunny in you and your honey.
1. Be A Team.
Make a commitment to each other’s health. JoJo Ross, director of business development for Operation Boot Camp in Atlanta, stresses the importance of setting goals together: “For couples, deciding that health is a priority for their lives together will help keep everyone healthier.” Plan meals together and pick fun activities you both enjoy.
2. Move … Every Day.
“Raise your heart rate and take—or create—the opportunity to be active every day,” says Ross. Just be sure to get physical, even in small ways. Dance when you hear music, walk when you don’t have to drive, and take spontaneous romps through the park with your significant other.
3. Drink Green Tea Regularly.
Green tea boosts antioxidant levels, removes free radicals and helps balance the body’s pH, according to Dr. Jianshe Liu. A medical doctor and distinguished researcher, Liu is also a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner. Green tea is a standby of TCM and one of the simplest ways to improve your health, Dr. Liu says. He also recommends considering a visit to a TCM practitioner for any chronic illnesses or unexplained symptoms, since Eastern medicine offers a much wider range of preventative health solutions, most without side effects.
4. Eat Your Calories, Don’t Drink Them.
Always choose water first to be sure you aren’t confusing hunger and thirst. Most of us get plenty of calories throughout the day, so it isn’t necessary to consume sugary drinks or food when all you really need is rehydration. “Beware [of] drinks that say they are all natural; they can still be loaded with calories and sugar,” cautions Ross, who also warns against dehydrating carbonated drinks. “When you are hydrated, your body systems just work better. It is like oil to a car: It keeps everything moving.”
5. Eat Simple, Unrefined Foods.
Choose fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, over expensive, processed foods. Ross says, “We forget how simple it is to pack an apple or some baby carrots and hummus. You actually do not have to cook anything and you are getting so many great things in one natural package.” When possible, choose foods that raise your HDL levels, like fish. HDL, the good cholesterol, has been linked repeatedly to individuals with extremely long life spans. Other ways to pump up the HDL include cutting out alcohol, smoking and trans fatty acids, plus upping cardio.
6. Nurture Mental Acuity.
Push the limits of your mind. Just like you move every day, exercise your brain, too. Bilingual individuals have a nearly 50 per cent lower risk of dementia, senility and Alzheimer’s disease. Consider picking up continuing education or community classes to keep your mind sharp.
7. Make Intimacy Important.
“Great sexual connection makes us healthier. Settling for stagnant, boring sex kills us slowly,” says Eric Candell, a Seattle psychotherapist who frequently counsels couples facing intimacy issues. “Healthy marriages overflow with fulfilling sex,” Candell states, “But healthy couples also know when to stop having sex that isn’t worth having—and to figure out how each partner can grow so that sex becomes interesting again.”
8. Keep Up With Screenings.
Regular screenings are perhaps the easiest way to up your odds of growing old together. Quick, simple tests are available to check for high cholesterol, prostate cancer, diabetes and other common sneak-attack conditions. If caught early, most of these conditions have high survival rates, but without screenings often reach advanced stages before being noticed. Commit to regular checks with your spouse, or even schedule them together for added motivation. Click here for U.S. News analysis of 11 major screening tests.
9. Maintain Individual Social Lives.
For many reasons, people with supportive and active social circles tend to live longer than socially isolated people. Newly married couples especially need to be careful, however: Letting their individuality suffocate under couple-dom can lead to dissatisfaction and restlessness. Brien Wood, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Seattle Family & Marriage Counseling, explains this idea by saying, “Two become one, and then there are none.” Establish a secure relationship by being emotionally accessible and emotionally responsive to your partner, but keep your own identity. “Like a dance, go out into the world, then retreat to the comfort of each other,” Wood says. “Support each other going out, then support each other coming in.”
10. Use the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy To Your Advantage.
A 25-year study conducted by Oxford, Ohio, researchers discovered that people who generally exhibit a positive outlook lived 7.5 years longer than more pessimistic participants. These kinds of study results have been showing up in fields from education to wellness. The message is clear: Our perceptions alter the realities of life. Believe good things will come to you and your partner, and make an effort to lift their spirits whenever you can.