The Olympics make you think you need a perfect 10 for a gold medal. But life’s Olympics only require a 7 for the gold.
For years I’ve been teaching my patients about these 7 points; and now the American Heart Association (AHA) has studied these 7 metrics that will determine how long and how well you will live. That’s right – get these 7 habits and metrics right and you will significantly lower your risk of death. Here they are:
- Don’t smoke — and if you are a smoker, quit within 12 months of starting
- Maintain a BMI of less than 25
- Eat lots of vegetables, fruits and fiber-rich whole grains. Eat less than 1,500 mg per day of sodium. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Get moderate or vigorous physical at least 150 minutes per week.
- Keep total serum cholesterol below 200 mg/dL
- Maintain systolic blood pressure (top number) of less than 120 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of less than 80 mmHg
- Keep fasting blood glucose to less than 100 mg/dL or Hemoglobin A1C < 5.7%.
These seven habits and metrics were based on following 7,622 adults who only had to be 20 years old or more. The researchers then looked at how many of these seven things people met and reported on their likelihood of death.
People who met 5 or more of these 7 metrics had a 78% reduction in dying from any cause and an 88% reduction in dying from heart attack and stroke.
In particular, not smoking or stop smoking for 12 months (that’s right – quit for a year or more and it increases your life span), Hemoglobin A1C < 5.7%, peoples diets and how much they exercised mattered most.
How many of these 7 habits and metrics do you meet? The more you can integrate these 7 habits you into your life, the longer and healthier you will live.
And the sooner you get these metrics and habits in place, the better.
In another study of 2,327 college-educated men and women at least 60 years of age, the investigators studied 3 lifestyle risk factors for death and disability over 20 years:
- BMI > 25 kg/m2
- Current smoking
- Physical inactivity – never exercising enough to work up a sweat.
So this is your triathlon; control your weight, don’t smoke or stop smoking and keep physically active, and you will delay having a disability for 8.3 years and reduce your likelihood of dying.
Now that’s Olympic Gold.
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