What I’ve Learned from Researching and Writing 250 Healthy Living Blog Posts

I published in my book, Choose Better, Live Better – Nine Healthy Choices that Nurture Body, Mind, and Spirit, in 2020. At that time, I believed that I’d identified the key lifestyle choices over which I and you can exert substantial control on a daily basis. Reading and summarizing over a thousand peer-reviewed journal articles over the past 5 years and my own lived experience confirm that belief. Accumulating evidence shows that we can steer the trajectory of our lives towards vibrant physical health and emotional well-being for our body, mind, and spirit.


Abundant research supports the power of Keep Moving to maintain our physical capabilities and cardiometabolic and mental health. The simple daily habit of walking briskly for 22 minutes after breakfast, lunch, and dinner work wonders for me. If you really want to build your cardiorespiratory health, consider a program of high-intensity interval training. A few minutes of strenuous physical activity a few days each week can strengthen your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.

Similarly, abundant evidence supports the power of Eat Better to build your cardiometabolic health. When you combine Keep Moving and Eat Better, you’ll likely reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes by at least 90 percent compared to the average American. Emphasize vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Plain yogurt and low-fat milk can help you get enough protein. Go easy on or avoid ultra-processed foods as much as you can.

Health authorities are starting to wake up to the power of Sleep Better to help your brain work like it’s supposed to and to foster daily rejuvenation. Can you get 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night, going to bed about the same time each evening and getting up about the same time each morning? If so, your body and especially your brain will thank you now and in the future.


Robert Waldinger’s recent and highly readable book, The Good Life, chronicles results from the 85-year long Harvard Study of Adult Development. Waldinger highlights the finding that warm social relationships of study participants in childhood and early adulthood predicted better health 50 years later. But if you didn’t have a happy childhood, you can Cultivate Social Connections and warm friendships today. Dr. Leo Cooney, who built the geriatrics program at Yale University, opines that if you have the choice of working out at the gym or playing with your grandkids, you should choose the grandkids. According to noted psychologist Roy Baumeister, belonging is a fundamental, powerful, and pervasive aspect of human existence that requires interpersonal attachments.

I suspect that relatively few people appreciate the cumulative negative effect of chronic stress. It’s not that all stress is bad. Actually short-term stress, such as you experience in short-duration, high-intensity physical training, can help remodel your body in positive ways, such as building a more extensive network of capillaries and increasing your cardiorespiratory fitness. It’s imperative for you to find ways to Defuse Chronic Stress in resourceful ways, such as writing about emotionally charged experiences so as to release negative feelings.

You’ve heard the expression, “Use it or lose it.” It’s easy to see how this applies to your muscles, but you may not realize that it applies to your brain and your mind. As we age, our brain starts to deteriorate with the loss of certain neural connections. Nonetheless, cognitively stimulating activities, such as reading a book, playing a musical instrument, or learning a new language, create new neural connections to accomplish a particular task. These new neural connections can build a cognitive reserve, which can compensate for the loss of the age-related loss of neural connections, thereby avoiding or postponing cognitive decline and dementia.


The lifestyle choice of Develop a Positive Mental Attitude may sound to some like New Age mumbo-jumbo. It is not. Our beliefs and attitudes, especially about aging and intelligence, powerfully affect the trajectory of our lives. If we reject the negative stereotypes of aging that infect American culture, we’ll be more likely to see our own aging process in a more positive light. In addition, if we adopt a growth mindset, as proposed by Carol Dweck in her wonderful book, Mindset, we’ll be better able to realize your innate potential as a person.

When I began my research to identify healthy lifestyle choices, I had no idea that I’d include Live with Purpose. In retrospect, it’s not surprising. When we live with purpose, we create meaning in our lives. Purposeful activity will benefit you directly and will also involve some type of service to the wider world. Volunteering is a great way to create more purpose in life. If you don’t currently volunteer, why not find a community organization whose mission resonates with you and offer your help?

Religion refers to an organized, community-based approach with rituals and rules that foster communication with the Divine. Spiritual refers to a personal relationship with the transcendent. Research shows that the multiple health benefits that people who regularly attend religious services enjoy arise largely from the fellowship that they experience while traveling the path toward spiritual enlightenment. Plenty of evidence suggests that people who Participate in a Spiritual Community are more likely to lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives than people who don’t. If you don’t currently belong to a spiritual community, how about finding one that suits you?

What to do

Embracing healthy lifestyle choices in your daily life can dramatically improve your health and well-being. The nine healthy lifestyle choices I’ve identified can work wonders for you—if you embrace just a few of them. Start from where you are right now. Pick a healthy lifestyle choice that you haven’t yet incorporated into you daily life. The best choice for you is one that you’ll actually embrace. Pick one that you’ll enjoy doing (or will learn to enjoy), one that you believe will improve your life, and one that you believe you can accomplish. Why not start today?

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