10 habits for a longer life

January 27, 2014

Mark L. Friedman, MD, FACEP, FACP

Happy New Year! If you are like most of my patients, and millions of other Americans, the beginning of a new year is a time for reflection, resolutions, and resolve. And if you are like 99.9% of the population, most of those great intentions are forgotten by Jan. 30.

So instead of grand plans and promises, why not just focus on the TOP 10 Dos and Don'ts for healthy living this year: Increase the DOs and reduce or get rid of the DON'Ts.

Let's start with the positives.


  1. Buckle your seat belt. You make the kids do it, right? Don't forget yourself! Kids see what you do, so set a good example.
  2. Regularly monitor your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. If you are generally healthy and get an annual physical, great! If any of your levels are higher than the norm, call your doctor about a plan.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight. Yes "“ easier said than done. But how about just cutting down on empty calories? Fewer sugared (or alcoholic) drinks or rich deserts. Less junk food. Try snacking on fruits and vegetables. Less packaged and processed foods.
  4. Exercise regularly. It doesn't have to be high intensity workouts at the gym (although they are terrific), it can be dancing to your favorite CD, playing Wii with the kids, or just parking further than you normally would and walking more.
  5. Wear a helmet when you bike or ski. Again "“ you make your kids do it right? (Right?!?) So be a good role model and protect your brain from injury.


  1. Smoke. Anything. Both cigarettes and marijuana are bad for your lungs, heart and vasculature (the rest of your body). Even the new "smokeless cigarettes" are full of nicotine, which is addictive and dangerous.
  2. Drink too much alcohol. It slows your reflexes, reduces the quality of your sleep, and as your partner will probably tell you, it increases snoring. So if you enjoy a drink, go ahead. Just do it in moderation.
  3. Keep a loaded gun. If you are a card-carrying NRA member, fine. Just keep the bullets and the guns in separate places. And keep the gun locked and away from children.
  4. Ride motorcycles. Especially without a helmet. You remember the old joke: What do you call a motorcycle rider who doesn't wear a helmet? An organ donor!
  5. Sweat the small stuff. It's just not worth it. Stress can increase your risk of heart disease, sleep disorders, digestive issues, depression, obesity and more. So take a deep breath, count to 10, and let it go!

I bet you could name every one of these, but it never hurts to be reminded. And for 2014, why not pick one or two and aim for improvement instead of perfection. Give yourself credit for small steps, and keep the momentum going.

And remember that First Stop Health is here to help you with any medical issue. Call us at the first sign of illness or injury, when you need prescription refills, or even to get help reducing large medical bills.

Be well.

Originally published Jan 27, 2014 10:00:00 AM.