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Is middle-age too late to start living a healthier life?

It is never too late to start exercising.

When you consider your health, there is no secret that it is certainly better for you to start good healthy habits as soon as possible. The earlier you start to exercise on a regular basis the better. The earlier you start to eat healthier the better. The bottom line here is to be healthy and thus have a better quality and longer life.

Let’s say you have not been treating your body as well as you should have. But recently you have had a revelation and want to try to take better care of yourself. Is it too late to turn over a new leaf? Will it make any difference? Can you increase your longevity and quality of life?

A new study looked at middle-aged Americans to see if changes made in their lives toward a healthier life style would make any difference in their longevity and quality of life. Middle-aged is generally defined as between 45 to 65 years of age.

Research conducted by Dr. Yanping Li from the Harvard University’s T.H. Chang School of Public Health determined that changes adopted by people in five critical areas of health, could add up to 10 years to one's life. Li stressed that adopting each factor could result in a person living two to three years longer.

Top on the list is the consumption of a healthy diet. This is a diet that is more plant based and comprised of healthy protein such as legumes. Such a diet would be low in sugar and unhealthy fats. As they say, you are what you eat.

Next listed is exercising regularly, which includes 30 or more minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. It helps if you can find a physical activity that you like to do. For some, finding activities that can be enjoyed by a group is helpful in continuing the program.

Abstention from smoking is also a key element to help maintain good health. There is no other way to say it. Smoking is detrimental to your health no matter how you look at it. It is an addictive activity which has no redeeming properties.

The fourth area on the list is the consumption of alcohol in moderation. So what is considered a moderate amount of alcohol? For women it is up to one glass of wine a day and for men it is up to two glasses of wine a day.

Last on the list is maintaining a healthy weight. This has long been shown to aide in longevity.

All of these healthy habits are part of what is known as one’s personal lifestyle. The researchers believe these should be emphasized at your visits with your healthcare providers.

In 2015, the United States was ranked 31st in life expectancy among developed countries, while in 2014, we also had the highest healthcare spending. A lot of that spending was on drug discovery and disease treatment. Was that money well spent?

A sad fact is that only 15 percent of Americans meet all five healthy lifestyle factors as revealed in surveys performed from 1988 to 1992. Between 2001 and 2006, only eight percent of Americans met all five criteria.

Researchers like Li stress that living a healthier lifestyle could narrow the gap between the U.S. and other industrialized nations.

The researchers concluded that prevention of disease should be a top national health care priority and preventive care should be a main part of the U.S. health system.

What does your life style consist of? How many of those top five criteria are in your life? It is never too late to start to live a healthier lifestyle.

Dr. Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. Dr. Bland’s radio show, “It’s a Matter of Your Health,” can be heard live on Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. on N.C. A&T State University’s WNAA, 90.1 FM. Listeners may call in and ask questions. The show is replayed on Sirius 142 at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays. Email Dr. Bland at

Submitted Photo

It is never too late to start exercising.