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Health & Wellness

We Asked 13 Doctors a Simple Question about How to Improve Our Health. Here's Their Advice

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Wouldn’t you love to know a simple change you could make right now that might improve your health?

We took that very question to doctors across the United States. Here’s how to make steps towards a healthy future, according to some medical experts.

“Increase your daily activity! Over the years, I have made an effort to ask all my elderly patients what their secret is, and they almost all say that they take a daily walk. Incorporate walking into daily life, walk to work, walk your kids to school or take an evening stroll.”

—    Keri Robertson, MD, emergency medicine at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

“There’s a few things I recommend: Get plenty of sleep, think positively, maintain healthy relationships, be mindful and manage your stress, eat a well-balanced diet, exercise daily and minimize bad habits. I think these are key components to healthy lifestyle.”

—    Igor Prus, MD, a board-certified sports medicine physician with Swedish Covenant Medical Group in Chicago, Illinois.

“To me the most important is regular exercise—ideally a type that is somewhat challenging, but even simply walking. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the easiest ways to age quickly.”

—    Bruce McNulty, MD, chief medical officer at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, Illinois

 “I think if people were more active and obtained close to 10,000 steps daily, they would face less health problems later in life, especially if combined with healthy eating. I think tracking steps is a great way to have fun while being active.”

—    Steve Attanasio, MD, interventional cardiologist with Swedish Covenant Medical Group in Chicago, Illinois

“No matter when you start, staying physically active brings many health benefits with minimal side effects. Physical activity has been shown to help with chronic pain, chronic fatigue, improved mood and better cardiovascular health. If there is one change that I would encourage patients to make as they get older, it’s to engage in cardiovascular and strength training activities at least three days a week.”

 —    Angel Rivera, MD, functional and integrative medicine physician with Swedish Covenant Medical Group in Chicago, Illinois      

“Maintain a healthy weight. By staying active and eating a well-balanced diet, you can decrease a major risk factor for developing knee osteoarthritis, which will allow you to remain active and have a better quality of life.

—    John Nickless, MD, primary care/sports medicine physician, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago, Illinois

“In addition to pursuing regular aerobic exercise, try to participate in activities like yoga or others that emphasize flexibility. Maintaining flexibility is an excellent way to avoid musculoskeletal injury.”

—    Robert Wysocki, MD, hand, wrist and elbow specialist, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago, Illinois

 “Maintain good family relationships and live an honest life.”

—    Edward Goldberg, MD, spine specialist, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago, Illinois

 “Lift weights. This builds muscle and increases bone density.”

—    Kamran Hamid, MD, foot and ankle specialist, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago, Illinois

“This may sound obvious, but learning how to relax would lead to a better sense of wellbeing, better cognitive functioning, sleep, pain management and better overall physical health. The mind-body connection is powerful and usually unrecognized as something we can control. Learning meditation is easy and accessible. There are classes to experience group practice and participation or for privacy there are many downloadable apps. There is a benefit to learn one or several techniques and practice them daily. Some take less than a minute, some up to 15 – 20 minutes.”

—    Elaine Rodino, Ph.D., psychologist in private practice in State College, Pennsylvania and Santa Monica, California

 “If I had to make one suggestion, it's exercise! And when I say exercise, I strongly encourage both aerobic and strength training. Both are quite helpful, and both improve your sense of well-being, in different ways. Strength training is often overlooked. We all know that that type of exercise decreases our chances of developing osteoporosis—but a concept that is really being discussed these days by docs who deal with later life issues is the concept of "sarcopenia" or decreasing muscle mass. Muscle strength is also very important for balance, which is crucial when we talk about preventing falls, and it is the fall which tends to precipitate the fracture, which can be devastating.”

—    Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Clinical Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

“Enjoy sex after menopause. [To do that, a woman] needs to know the physiology of menopause, so she understands what is happening when it happens. Although every woman's experiences are unique to her, none of us are alone. And she needs to know some new sexual techniques that will keep sex enjoyable as she ages.”

—    Barb DePree, MD, Ob/Gyn at Lakeshore Health Partners in Zeeland, Michigan and founder of the site MiddleSexMD

“Menopause is known as the change, but things don’t have to change for the worse. In fact, for many women, menopause is the beginning of a new opportunity to enjoy the life they want to live. … [One piece of advice is to] stay sexually active. Intimate dryness is a common complaint, but staying sexually active helps overcome or prevent that. Need some help? Talk to your HCP about potential over the counter remedies or prescription treatment options. 

—    Mache Seibel, MD, Ob/Gyn and member of the faculty at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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