Healthy to Age 100: 5 Tips from a Top Doctor

Wearable_fitness_JOUR_36253_448800Thinking about improving your health? You might listen to David Carr, M.D., the clinical director for the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science for Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Carr has reviewed thousands of medical studies in his practice and has some positive news about healthy aging: we can achieve significantly healthier outcomes with easy lifestyle changes and less effort than you might think.

“Exercise is number one,” Dr. Carr says. “There are studies that suggest regular physical activity can have positive effects on physical health, quality of life, and cognition. Even as little as 20 minutes of walking a day can yield great benefits.”

Thirty minutes of exercise, 5 times a week, is the minimum bar set by the Department of Health and Human Services.IMG_20151028_113009

It is easy to build up gradually in your regular routine. For example, choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the distant side of a parking lot instead of circling until a spot near an entrance opens.

Dr. Carr’s longevity prescription also includes a workout for your brain and social life. “Cognitive and social stimulation are number two,” he says. “There is simply not much stimulation if you stay home alone and watch TV. The brain is like a muscle — it needs to be used, stimulated, and pushed.”

In his medical practice, Carr has found having a “care” is part of the “cure”, because people who have social connections live longer.1000102_10201651982325609_766739615_n

“Interacting with other people in social situations is crucial. It’s also important to keep your hobbies going – board games, puzzles, cards, playing a musical instrument or staying active in volunteer work,” are a few of the suggestions Dr. Carr offers.

caroline-attwood-225496-unsplash - CopyDr. Carr’s number 3 tip is focused on your plate: “A good heart healthy diet will probably also turn out to be great for the brain,” he says. “You should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day and consume fish at least a couple of times a week.”

His next tip for living to 100 or more includes regular health checks to catch diseases early when they’re still treatable.

202874“Controlling risk factors for vascular disease is tip number four. We know the number one killer of the brain and heart is vascular disease or atherosclerosis. If you have high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, you should see your family doctor for treatment, and keep those risk factors under control.”

Dr. Carr finds relaxation to be vital. “I’m convinced that high stress levels over a lifetime can have a very negative impact on our organ systems,” he says. “So trying to keep stress under control is probably the fifth leg of the table.”DEYVTHFARF

Pets are a Powerful Prescription for Healthier, Happier Lives: Starting with Health Benefits for Babies!

I saw a bumper sticker in the shape of a dog’s head that read: “Wag more –Bark less.” Great advice but it seems man’s best friend has a lot of lessons to teach us which can make us healthier and happier. In one of the hottest videos online, canine crawling coach, Buddy, helps his family’s baby learn how to get moving. Mom and Buddy’s owner, Valerie Stevens-Scott posted the video on YouTube with the caption: “Bear Bear hasn’t gotten the hang of crawling, so Buddy decided to show her how it’s done.”

This little baby girl just hasn’t figured out how to crawl on her own, so her loyal terrier pal, Buddy, decides to give baby Allie multiple demonstrations and a helping paw. As you can see in the video, Buddy is a good teacher and Allie soon is crawling.

Crawling help and companionship are not the only benefit dogs may offer to babies. Youngsters with pets may have added protection against allergies. Researchers found children under the age of 1 who had two or more dogs or cats as family pets saw a reduction in allergy development by the time they were 6 or 7. Additional medical research produced similar results, finding children with early cat exposure showed reduced the development of allergies later in life.

Pet ownership continues to provide health benefits as children move from toddling to adulthood. Youngsters and adults taking their dog out for a walk get more than heart smart exercise. Researchers and smart parents believe it may benefit social skills in an era of text messages and online chats. New research indicates walking with a dog leads to more conversations with neighbors, other dog owners, and helps people of all ages stay socially connected.

A 2014 study in the Journal Applied Developmental Science found that young adults with a strong attachment to cats and dogs also reported feeling more connected to their relationships and communities. And studies have shown those that have a pet live more fulfilled and busy social life live longer, happier lives.

The medical community believes companion animals are a good prescription in many cases. Pets are being used to help our nation’s war veterans heal from post-traumatic stress disorder. Our pets innately know when we need them most, which gives us a feeling of belonging and a self-esteem boost. Researchers in a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that pet owners had hearts that adapted better to stressful situations than non-pet owners. The American Heart Association cites a number of studies that found pet ownership may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some data even indicates that pets help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and that owners with heart issues are more likely to survive heart attacks.

541030_10200807370730847_356137719_nI believe my two Maltese dogs, adopted from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, are powerful and playful prescriptions against loneliness. The APA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond. They offer many services and programs for all ages. In fact, kids of all ages and community groups can take a guided tour of the APA and get a health boost by petting some of the awesome animals available for adoption. Check them out at

How do you think your pets help you? I would like to know, please leave a comment with stories about your furry friends.