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There's really no big mystery to getting and staying healthy despite all the fads and ads

COURTESY PHOTO  - Dr. William Patterson You wouldn't know it by the endless stream of diet and fitness fads, but there's really no big mystery to getting and staying healthy.

Maybe it's just human nature to get bored with the tried-and-true; maybe it's simple avoidance of what seems too difficult to work into our busy lives.

It doesn't have to be hard, though, and the payoff of a healthier you is well worth it. Follow a few easy tips:

Eat well

We understand. With a busy schedule, it's hard to maintain a healthy diet. But men are at a higher risk of heart disease, and diabetes is on the rise in the United States. So:

- Remember most fast food places have salads and fruits on the menu these days. Swap out the fries or the greasy burger for something healthier.

- Eat more of the good stuff: fish, fruits and vegetables.

- Experiment with salt substitutes, fresh herbs and other flavorings so you can cut down on your salt intake.

Move more

Not only does exercise improve cardiovascular health, lower your risk of diabetes and help lower cholesterol, it keeps joints and connective tissues flexible and increases alertness and mental clarity. So:

- Build movement in by parking farther away, taking the stairs and enjoying the scenic route.

- Fight desk drudgery by setting an hourly reminder to get up, even if all you can do is walk a few circles around your desk and stretch. Just get your blood moving and your joints and muscles working, before you find yourself dozing.

- Make it fun with pickup basketball games, tennis or take your pet for more walks. (It is good for our furry friends too!)

- Make it meditative by swimming laps, running or doing yoga or tai chi.

- Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise.

Stress less

If you exercise more, you're already ahead of the game. Here are a few more things you can do to cut some stress:

- Sleep! Easy, right? Not for everyone. Help yourself get better sleep by going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day, even weekends. This helps set your internal clock.

- Clear the clutter. Some of us just can't function in a messy home or work space. Organizing things can help you get more focused on your priorities and allow you to let go of the little stuff that's been nagging you.

- Take a break! Even if you can't go away on a fancy vacation, get away from work for more than a weekend and officially take time off. Give yourself time to do absolutely nothing, or to take up a new hobby, or anything but work.

Get a checkup

"But I am healthy! I only need to go to the doctor if I am sick!" How do you know if you're on the right track if you don't let the doc look under your hood periodically? A regular checkup usually amounts to:

- Blood work to check blood sugar, cholesterol and other common issues.

- Simple office tests of your blood pressure, pulse, weight, and heart and lung sounds.

- A review of your vaccinations.

As you age, there'll be more, but why worry about that? Take your medicine now (by going to your doctor for regular checkups) so you don't have to take more medicine later.

Dr. William Patterson is a board certified family and sports medicine physician at Adventist Health Primary Care, Sandy. To make an appointment with Dr. Patterson, call 503-668-8002.

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