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Dr. Zach’s 7 tips for living a longer & healthier life

BT Montreal | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019


1. Don’t smoke, If you do smoke, quit.  Smoking is known to cause numerous cancers, heart disease, lung disease, and stroke.  If you smoke, the best thing you can do to improve your health is to quit. This is much easier said than done but where there is a will there is a way and there is nothing more important for (or than) your health.

Longtime smokers can expect to lose about 10 years of life expectancy.  However, those who quit before they turn 35 can gain most if not all of that decade back, and even those who wait until middle age to kick the habit can add about five years back to their life expectancies.  https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/putting-a-number-to-smokings-toll/

2. Eat well and, if you have diabetes, control your sugars.  Everyone should choose lower glycemic index foods (brown rice, bread, pasta) over high glycemic index foods (white rice, bread, pasta) as well as choosing fats that are unsaturated (olive oil, salmon, almonds) over those with saturated fat (cheese, butter, cream).  Also, avoid trans fats (in fast foods, donuts). These recommendations are especially important to people with diabetes, who need to watch their diet and control their blood glucose.


3. Control your weight.  Obesity is a risk factor for many illnesses including type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and early death.  Weight control can be achieved by diet and exercise. Don’t buy things you will eat for emotional reasons or out of boredom (or if you do, moderate it).  Ask for help in setting a reasonable goal and taking small steps that make success more likely. Tell friends and family about your goal. Make your kitchen off-limits after dinner.  Trimming 5% to 10% of your starting weight is a realistic goal with excellent health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and lowering the risk for diabetes.  Work with your doctor, or a nutritionist, or a trainer — you don’t have to do it alone, and it’s easier to be motivated with others involved.

People with severe obesity have decreased life expectancy ranging from 6 to 14 years shorter than those of healthy weight — https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-study-finds-extreme-obesity-may-shorten-life-expectancy-14-years


4. Stay active, physically and mentally.  People who are more physically active have better diabetes control, blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight.  And they live longer and healthier lives. Not everyone can run marathons, but whatever physical exertion you can do is infinitely better than none at all, and the more the better.

Staying mentally and socially active is as important as physical activity.  It has been shown to improve mental health and delay the onset and progression of dementia.


5. Drink alcohol only in moderation.  Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults means up to one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than age 65, and up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger.  If you don’t drink, don’t take it up for possible health benefits. If there are any they are small and probably only from having a single glass of red wine a day. Heavy drinking causes liver disease, heart disease, stomach disease, and increases your risk of certain cancers.  And it decreases one’s life expectancy by about 5 years — https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(18)30134-X/fulltext.


6. Build a strong social network.  This has been shows to be protective to both your mental and physical health.

A healthy social life can be as beneficial to your health as not smoking.  And a study showed that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.



7. Have a doctor and go for screening when recommended.  Catch potential problems while they are easily treatable/curable and have someone to support you in improving your health.

Screening saves lives — for cancers, blood pressure, and many other conditions.


Controlling your blood pressure can add  5 years to your life expectancy — https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/787720.

Patients who see the same doctor regularly have a lower risk of death than others — https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/6/e021161

These are 7 ways to live longer, healthier lives.  There is no magic here; all take a bit of effort, and all are worth it.


For more info: www.drzach.ca 

Find yourself a fitness buddy! by Kathleen Trotter

BT Montreal | posted Tuesday, Feb 19th, 2019

Need Some Motivation? Get a “Fitness Buddy”

We all fall off our fitness horse from time to time. As I constantly remind myself (my inner critic can be nasty), we are only human. Undulations are an inherent part of life, and thus an inherent part of the process of “finding your fit”!

Now, that is not me giving you (or myself) the “okay” to purposely fall or to say, “I am unmotivated so who cares. I will just be lazy.”

NO! When you fall off your fitness horse, you have to course correctly as quickly as possible — get back on the horse ASAP and climb on a more informed rider. Ask yourself, “Why did I fall?” and “What would make me more motivated?”

My suggestion? Try getting a fitness buddy! Many of us fall in large part because we get bored of our routine and we don’t set up systems to keep us accountable.

A workout buddy solves both problems. Training with a friend can infuse some fun into your workout and create accountability!


The buddy system in detail

Partner training exists on a continuum.

The most “hands off” is to simply meet that person at the gym or a fitness class so you have accountability. Think of this as “independent” partner training. Get on side-by-side cardio machines to chat, do a group class, or put your headphones in to do your own strength or cardio workouts. This is ideal for those who want the accountability of having to meet someone but have no interest in interactive strength exercises or having medicine balls thrown at their faces.

The next level would be “gamifying” or “coachifying” your workouts. No throwing equipment at each other required — as with actual “partner exercises” — but you do work out together and, most important, actively motivate each other as you sweat. This is ideal for anyone who wants to gamify their workouts or who thrives on pushing or being pushed by a partner, coach, or trainer.

Try it on side-by-side cardio machines. First agree on a set workout and motivate and coach each other throughout. For example, do 10 sets of one minute hard and one minute recovery. “Coach” your friend to push as hard as they can. Maybe set a friendly competition based on effort.

Or take turns being the “coach.” Try partner fartlek training. Going for a run? Partners take turns identifying a landmark — a stop sign, for example — and sprint toward it. The coach dictates the pace; the second partner attempts to keep up. Recover and then spot the next landmark.


The most intertwined level — what I consider the most “fun” — are “partner exercises.” For these you actually use your partner to do strength and core. Partner exercises are ideal for those who want to improve coordination and reaction skills, or those who enjoy the team-like feel of training interactively.

Here are a few partner strength exercises to try.

  • Tapping push-ups: Start facing each other in push-up position. Do one push-up. On the way up, high-five each other. Repeat, alternating hands. Keep your hips stable as your hands connect.
  • Partner-resist side planks: Start in a side plank, facing each other, on your left forearm and feet. Place your right hands palm-to-palm. Each partner gently tries to push the other over as you both hold for 20 seconds or more. Switch sides. Brace your core to stay stable.
  • Standing single-leg medicine ball toss: Stand on one leg, facing your partner, and throw the medicine ball back and forth.
  • Plank medicine-ball roll: Start in plank position with your feet wide. Face away from each other, feet touching. Partner A rolls the medicine ball under both partners so that Partner B has to stop it. Partner B then rolls the ball back to Partner A. Keep your hips still. Roll the ball back and forth for 20 to 60 seconds.
  • V-sit partner toss: Sit on your bum facing each other with your feet on the ground and knees bent. Lean back slightly with chest out and core engaged. Toss a medicine ball back and forth. For an added challenge, lift one or both legs.

You can also gain numerous training partners by joining a running or triathlon training group.


The caveat!

I am not arguing that everyone should have a fitness buddy — you might not NEED a buddy to be successful. If you don’t like training with people or working out is your “alone time,” then great — be you! DO YOU. The trick to “finding your fit” is literately finding the method of being active that fits your life realities, genetics, goals, and personality.

Believe me, I often relish simply putting in my headphones and running “buddy-less.”

If you don’t want to train with someone but like the idea of some accountability, try an “accountability buddy.” E-mail or call your “buddy” regularly to discuss anything health related; establish weekly exercise plans, fitness goals, or meal plans, and identify possible road blocks and solutions.


Last, never use your partner “falling” off of their health horse as an excuse to fall off yours.

Establish clear goals with your partner so that you’re motivated to stay on track even when your buddy is not around. Commit to attending a set class regardless of whether your partner goes, sign up for a race so you always have a reason to do your training run, or set weight-loss or strength goals. When your schedules don’t match, train separately and report back.


Main take-away

No matter how reliable your partner is, your health is still ultimately your health.

Don’t transfer responsibility for your well-being to a buddy; don’t justify skipping a workout because your buddy can’t make it or duck out early because your partner does.

But if you’re struggling with motivation, try having some fun with a fitness buddy. Use your partner when it’s helpful. Use yourself — dig deep — when he or she is not.