1. Choose a reasonably vigorous exercise programme you love and stick with it regularly.
Every study of ageing shows that the more active you are, the less likely you are to die from all causes, including heart attacks and cancer. Twenty minutes of low impact, weight bearing exercise three to four times a week is best for your bones. This can include walking, rebounding, cycling, using a Stairmaster or low impact aerobics. Staying trim with a lean body mass is also linked with lower overall mortality. Exercise has also been shown to keep your mind sharp and improve mental health, and help avoid depression (WDDTY vol 9 no 1).
Try not to settle for anything less than challenging work or an activity that you love that makes your 'heart sing" as US naturopaths Judyth and Robert Ullman put it and do it with gusto. Again, studies indicate that people at peace with their lives and life's work live longer than those who are warring with their world or don't keep their minds active (WDDTY vol 9 no 1).
3. Try to be of service to others, on or off the job.
The Ullmans recently wrote that they consider loving and being of service to others the highest priority. (Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, July 1997).
4. Reduce the number of poisons you put in your body.
Smoking, drinking, salty processed foods, all have indesputable detrimental effects on your health and your life. Caffeine and tannin are perhaps the main culprits in benign breast disease, and are also linked with joint problems.
5. Make your home a sanctuary and refuge.
Fill your environment only with objects, friends and family and animals that are supportive. Dr William Rea suggests that, if at all possible, live with some land around you, even in the form of a small town garden. (If possible, also live detached from your neighbours, so that you don't take on their EMFs and other pollutants.) If this is not possible, be sure to spend time in nature as much as you can. Many clinical ecologists like Dr Rea find that patients have too low levels of oxygen the effect of living in a polluted, congested, urban world.
6. Be connected with others and yourself.
Only half of all heart disease is called by a sedentary lifestyle and high fat diet. The other half appears to be caused by isolation from other people and our own feelings. A Finnish study has shown that those who were lonely and isolated socially were two to three times more likely to die from heart disease and other causes than those who felt connected to others. Conversely, studies of populations show that social networks and social support protect people against heart disease regardless of whether they smoke or suffer from high blood pressure (Am J Epidemiol, 1983; 117: 384-96). Making friends, expressing your feelings even owning a pet could prove a lifesaver (PROOF! vol 1 no 1).
7. Cultivate some sort of spiritual connection, whether with a god or a less directed religious entity.
Copious evidence shows that prayer actually has positive effect upon the body, whether you are the one doing the praying or are being prayed for (PROOF! vol 1 no 1). A study of centenarians found that faith in God was one common element to which they attributed their longevity (WDDTY vol 9 no 1).
8. Engage in regular relaxation techniques, particularly those which calm the mind as well as the body.
The latest evidence shows that techniques like yoga, Transcendental Meditation and other disciplines likely to put you in touch with your own spirituality, in addition to providing relaxation, work better than stress management and other techniques which solely concentrate on relaxing the body (PROOF! vol 1 no 1).
9. Don't hold grudges: cultivate a sense of forgiveness, of your enemies, your family, your parents.
Most importantly, forgive and love yourself. Get rid of unfinished emotional business in your life. Again the evidence shows that psychological and emotional health is an important predictor of longevity (WDDTY vol 9 no 1).
10. Take responsibility for your own health.
Taking responsibility for every decision in your health care means that you are less likely to be a victim of your doctor's decision. You also derive the psychological benefit of staying in charge again, an important predictor of mental and physical health (WDDTY, the book).