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15 Low-tech Strategies for a Long Life

15 Low-tech Strategies for a Long Life


With President Bush poised to sign an executive order mandating that I and half a million of my colleagues undergo smallpox vaccination, I am hyperaware of all the more immediate threats to my patients' health that'although not associated with the same emotional and media-circus zing of a war on terrorism'would probably save more lives if adhered to over the long run. So here are some simple ways to live longer without being distracted by the more remote possibilities of stealthy, politically motivated bioterrorist cells releasing anthrax at your local supermarket. In Your Car ' Wear your seat belt. Always. ' Use hands-free cell phone headsets and avoid distracted driving. ' Buy a car with air bags and antilock brakes; check windshield wipers and tire pressure regularly. In Your Home ' Domestic violence is a zero-tolerance issue. It is also illegal. Have the courage to remove yourself from physically or emotionally abusive situations. You deserve better. ' Buy, install, and maintain smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. ' Designate a special place in your home for ample supplies of water, canned foods, pet food, flashlights, batteries, a radio, basic tools, important medicines, cash, and warm clothes. All should be stored in a convenient and safe place for easy access in an emergency. In Your Own Body ' Stop planning to quit smoking and actually do it. Smoking is expensive, unattractive, physically dangerous, and socially offensive. Ask your doctor about new ways modern medicine can help you quit. ' Turn off the TV, get your gluteus off the sofa, and get 30 to 45 minutes of exercise every day. ' Forget all the hype about low-fat, high-fat, high-protein, low-carb, and fad diets. Stop wasting your savings on useless vitamin and herbal supplements. Instead, eat the foods you like in smaller portions with frequent healthy snacks and add more water and fresh fruit and vegetables into the mix. You'll lose weight, save money, and feel great. ' Since it's critical to your physical and mental well-being, get eight hours of sleep every night. If you suffer from sleep problems, talk to your doctor about new behavioral or medical strategies. ' Don't rationalize that recreational drug use is OK. It isn't. ' Practice safe sex. Always. If you have a safe-sex accident, call your doctor immediately. There may be ways to stop a sexual infection before it takes hold. ' Don't be shy, embarrassed, or afraid to seek mental health help for anxiety, depression, or severe mood swings. Life is too short to suffer unnecessarily. ' Pick a good doctor who has a well-run office and is communicative, is smart, and has expertise in your particular medical conditions. Check your doctor's licensure status and credentials on the Web to avoid going to a non'board-certified doctor or somebody who has been disciplined for bad medical practices by your state medical board. You are encouraged to check up on your doctor at,, and ' Have regular health evaluations that include (1) head-to-toe physical examinations, complete with a thorough inspection of all of your private places; (2) screenings for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, and other sexually transmitted diseases; (3) vaccination updates for tetanus, flu, hepatitis, pneumonia, etc.; (4) colorectal, breast, prostate, testicular, cervical, and anal cancer screenings appropriate for your age; and (5) cholesterol, blood sugar, and liver and kidney function tests. Cohan is an attending physician and vice president with Pacific Oaks Medical Group, one of the nation's largest practices devoted to HIV care, located in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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