Young Man at Sunset on the BeachMaybe you’ve had a recent health scare. Perhaps someone you love was diagnosed with cancer. Or maybe you’ve worked hard, raised a family and are now looking forward to enjoying your golden years. No matter your reason for being increasingly concerned about your health, you may be able to make your years last longer. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. 1. Following a healthy diet. 3. Drinking alcohol in moderation. 4. Maintaining a healthy weight. A study published in Circulation determined that a woman who adopts these five low-risk lifestyle measures at age 50 would live 14 years longer than her peers who follow none of these habits. For a man, the gain would be 12.2 years. But you don’t have to be young to benefit, says preventive cardiologist Haitham Ahmed, MD, MPH, who has studied the same issue. A low-risk lifestyle is important for everyone, but even more critical for those who have been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease or have had a heart attack.

“Your risk increases after a heart attack, so any steps you take to reduce this risk will have a relatively greater impact,” he explains. The average life expectancy in the United States is estimated to be 79 for a woman and 75.5 for a man — lower than that of other developed nations. A prosperous life with too much food and too little exercise is to blame. Experts say the rapid rise in obesity and decline in physical activity are mainly responsible for high levels of cardiovascular disease in this country and many cancers. The five healthy habits identified for longevity are well known to cardiologists. “These are established lifestyle factors that have been shown to reduce future cardiovascular risk in multiple long-term studies,” says Dr. Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed previously participated in a study that looked at the impact of four of the five factors above (alcohol use was not included) and arrived at the same finding. “Many of the patients in our study were older than 65, yet those who adopted all healthy behaviors had a nearly 80 percent lower risk of death over the eight years of follow-up,” he says.

  • Journal writing
  • Having more home-cooked meals in a week
  • Being a role model for your family and friends
  • It relieves stress and helps with focus
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The Circulation researchers classified a healthy diet as foods associated with lower risk of certain diseases in multiple clinical trials. 3 fatty acids and low in red meat, processed meats, full-fat dairy, sugars, trans fats and sodium. This is essentially what is known as the Mediterranean diet. The lowest risk from smoking was found in those who never smoked. Low-risk alcohol consumption meant 5 to 15 grams per day (one drink) for women and 5 to 30 grams per day (two drinks) for men. Low-risk body weight was defined as a body-mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2. Only 1.3 percent of the 123,000 study participants assessed by the study researchers followed all five lifestyle habits. However, the more habits people followed, the longer they lived. This means that a low-risk lifestyle is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition. “The more healthy behaviors you pursue, the more incremental benefit you will derive,” Dr. Ahmed says.

That being said, one of the five healthy habits — smoking — appears to have the greatest impact on longevity. “In my previous study, sedentary, obese nonsmokers had higher survival rates than smokers who adopted two or more healthy behaviors.” says Dr. Ahmed. “If you could do one thing to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death over the long-term, it would be to stop smoking or to avoid starting. If you’re not sure where to start, just keep in mind you don’t have to tackle everything at once. And it’s more likely to stick if you pick one healthy habit and add to it. “Make one change, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and stick with it for three weeks until it becomes your new habit. Then go to the next change. For example, eliminate regular soda from your diet for three weeks until your taste buds no longer crave the sugar. Then make another change.

In this case, its probably best to go with paying off the card with the smallest debt first. That way you get some wins quicker and build the momentum and confidence to pay off the higher amounts. This is the best way to take away the worry and angst. Set it and forget it. As long as you follow this step, you can stop focusing on the debt. You’ll work out the extra you can afford by doing your budget and finding ways to cut back on your lifestyle expenses. You really want to focus on paying off more than the minimum amount otherwise you will never pay off the debt. The banks are clever at setting it up like this! Put this into your debt management plan. You’ve got to slice off massive chunks of that debt to pay them off faster and with less interest. It was a given that any extra money that found it’s way to us, it was put on the debt. If you can, do some research on the credit cards that offer the best interest rates. Or talk to your own bank to see how they can help you.

You might be able to consolidate all your debt onto the one card with a better interest rate. You might even get a personal loan that has a much lower interest rate. Then you just have to pay off the loan with the smaller interest rate. For our last credit card, we moved the balance over to a new card that had an interest free introductory offer for six months. By this stage, we were pretty good at money management and paying off debt, so we believed we could eliminate this debt before the no-interest period ended (as the rates can then jump high). Removing any interest payments in the interim gave us a healthy boost of happy vibes. This confidence helped to bring in the means to take the sucker down and we wiped it out completely. Because I was not focusing on the debt, I had no idea that we even had paid it off, until one day I logged in to check something in our personal account, and noticed the balance of zero. That was such an amazing feeling. What about when the debt is paid down? Do you still use credit cards?

This all depends on the smarts you learned along the way. Did this experience help you to become better at managing money? Are you aware of the debilitating impact debt has on your life? Are you committed to never getting into debt trouble again? If you have a solid income stream, and your expenses are covered, you can use credit card again BUT never to buy anything you can’t afford. And never if you cannot pay off the balance in total each month. Why use credit cards then? We use credit cards smartly now to help us save or effectively earn money. We use our credit cards to pay for almost every purchase both business and personal. We do this to collect frequent flyer points or cash back rewards, which we use whenever we have unexpected flights or need to purchase goods. At the moment we have enough points to fly to New York and back. But, we pay off the balance in full every month so we don’t pay any interest. You have to be super smart with money to follow this strategy. It’s far too easy to say, “Oh this month I’ll just pay the minimum” or “I really love this skirt. “Complacency is the direct path to debt prison”. Only buy when you can afford and always pay off the balance in full – the sure-fire secret to staying debt free. If you have to pay for necessities on credit card, you MUST come up with a plan to reduce your expenses and earn more money. You can do it. You are powerful and smart enough. A little bit of sacrifice and smart choices will get you where you deserve to be.

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