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Personal health also depends partially on the social structure of a person's life. The maintenance of strong social relationships, volunteering, and other social activities have been linked to positive mental health and also increased longevity. One American study among seniors over age 70, found that frequent volunteering was associated with reduced risk of dying compared with older persons who did not volunteer, regardless of physical health status. Another study from Singapore reported that volunteering retirees had significantly better cognitive performance scores, fewer depressive symptoms, and better mental well-being and life satisfaction than non-volunteering retirees.
Living a healthy life means making lifestyle choices that support your physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. Managing your health can be challenging at times; while one facet of your wellness demands more attention than others, you may end up struggling to maintain a good balance in other areas. To be of sound body, mind, and spirit, it’s important to pay attention to all aspects of health—your mental, emotional, and spiritual sides all play a role in your physical welfare, and vice versa. A state of optimal well-being means more than just the absence of disease or disorder; it also means having the resources to cope with problems and circumstances beyond your control and recover from difficult or troubling situations. This intersection between health and behavior can help you prevent illness, and steer you to make better decisions about your well-being.
Having that kind of control over your heart health is particularly welcome news right now, with cardiovascular disease remaining the number-one killer of both men and women. A recent CDC report revealed that “largely preventable” heart problems killed around 415,000 Americans in 2016. Under its Million Hearts campaign—which aims to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2022—the CDC identified approximately 2.2 million hospitalizations and 415,000 deaths from heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and related conditions in 2016 that likely could have been avoided.
Prolonged sitting is terrible for our bodies. It has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and early death. If you have a desk job, make sure to get up and move frequently even if you have to set your alarm on your smartphone to sound every hour to remind you. “Ten-minute spurts of exercise throughout the day can counteract that risk,” says Gianos.
Nobody pretends that we’re going to live in a meatless world anytime soon, but moderation can make a big difference. If you do eat meat, keep your portions small, go easy on sugar, processed carbs and butter, and help yourself to plenty of vegetables and fruits. Also keep in mind that the quality of the animal fat matters, Sass says. “Grass-fed and organic dairy and meats provide some beneficial fats that are not in conventionally produced animal foods.”