Expert health advice

Healthy living should be a habit. While it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with conflicting advice about health and nutrition, it is helpful to hear what the experts have to say. Here, a panel of professionals weighs in on a single question: If a person could make one change to live healthier, what do you suggest?

Healthy living should be a habit. While it’s hard not to be overwhelmed with conflicting advice about health and nutrition, it is helpful to hear what the experts have to say. Here, a panel of professionals weighs in on a single question: If a person could make one change to live healthier, what do you suggest?

“If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to make physical activity part of your life. You can gain significant health benefits with a moderate amount of physical activity—it doesn’t have to be strenuous. It’s most important to make physical activity part of your regular routine.”
—Emily Dessem, senior program manager, National Council on Aging

“Immunizations are not just for kids: Be sure to have your vaccination history reviewed by your health care provider and get all your recommended immunizations up to date. Start with getting a flu shot each and every year.”
—Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee

“Eat mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Do at least one physical activity daily, ideally something you like. Walk instead of driving whenever possible; it’s good for you and the environment. Make sure you get enough sleep; it’s more important than you think.”
—Dr. Robert Siegel, medical director, Center for Better Health and Nutrition, The Heart Institute of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

“My advice in one sentence is this: Learn how to cook! Healthy eating is much easier and more fun when you are in control of the ingredients.”
—Alysa Bajenaru, registered dietitian, InspiredRD.com

“My advice would be to stay active by finding an activity that you enjoy. The best workout is the one that you will actually do!”
—Jacque Ratliff, exercise physiologist and education expert, American Council on Exercise

“Everything in moderation! Nothing in excess. Staying heart-healthy is a daily task. We are often sabotaged by an all-or-none approach. Try to keep things in moderation: Moderate your diet, your activity and your lifestyle choices. Moderation in all things.”
—Dr. JoAnne Foody, director of cardiovascular wellness at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston

“Exercise. Frequently. You should work out at least four to five times per week at moderate to high intensity for 45 minutes or longer. It is one of the best ways to prevent disease development and improve or stabilize existing chronic disease.”
—Dr. Karen Cooper, weight management specialist in Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Health Institute

“The one piece of advice to live a healthier life would be to surround yourself with other health-conscious individuals. This can mean joining a gym, hiring a personal trainer, joining online communities or just spending more time with friends who have healthy habits. By doing this, you’ll create new positive habits and have support.”
—Mike Fantigrassi, director of professional services, National Academy of Sports Medicine

“There are four pillars to leading a healthy life: diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. Each one should be practiced and prioritized daily. And it’s important to realize they are interrelated. Take one away and the others are harder to achieve.”
—Rachel Begun, registered dietitian and nutritionist, Boulder, Colorado