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Dr. David Katz: What Health is For

Time:2019-12-01 17:03wine - Red wine life health Click:

Health What David Katz

Dr. David Katz: What Health is For

Dr. David Katz

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All too readily, health can masquerade as a moral imperative — the admonishment of a wagging finger and reproaching scowl.

While there may be responsibilities wound up with health — for ourselves and one another — the main reason to pursue it is far more enticing. Other things being equal, healthy people have more fun. Health is for pleasure. This is perhaps especially noteworthy as the holiday season, with its inevitable blend of temptation, indulgence, and guilt — closes in on us.

Health is for pleasure. The only real problem with that otherwise quite valid assertion is the potential for profligacy and excess. All pleasure must respect the limits of propriety and autonomy. So, for instance, perhaps it pleases me to swing a stick. My right to do so ends where your nose begins. All respectable pleasure honors such boundaries.

Perhaps, then, we might apply a related term, less prone to slippage on a slope toward decadence: quality of life. Health is for maximizing the quality of life.

This term offers many advantages, while preserving the main theorem. The quality of your life is informed by many factors, including pleasure, but perhaps others even more importantly: fulfillment, gratification, satisfaction, pride. These all borrow from pleasure and contribute to it as well, but are all distinct. Quality of life also passes the filter of medical legitimacy, having evolved into a term of that trade and a valid measure of outcome. More often than not, quality and time are conjoined into “quality adjusted life years.” My routine user-friendly reworking of this is: years in life, and life in years; vitality conjoined to longevity. Health fosters both, by these or any other words.

This is more important than it seems, and directly relevant as you look for some balance between doing what you want to do — and doing what you think you should do. Should you eat, or resist, that dessert? Have, or decline, that mulled wine? Take, or decline, that hors d’oeuvre making the rounds?

When health is relegated to the abrasive realm of moral imperatives, these and many related holiday (or year round) temptations are choices between what’s right, and what’s fun. But if within reason, maximizing “fun” is what doing what’s right is for, it changes the equation.

More and more evidence favors the powerful, health-promoting effects of fairly modest, but consistent commitments. The evidence that sitting is harmful points toward a simple, potent, and for most of us quite easy remedy: stand, stretch, and walk around briefly throughout your standard day.

Recent evidence shows that running in even very modest doses is a potent defense against premature death. Don’t despair if disinclined to run. Evidence suggests that just walking, exercise readily accessible to most of us, confers powerful health benefits.

As for eating, the weight of evidence — regarding weight, and every other outcome of importance — is comparably encouraging. Despite an obscuring fog of boisterous bickering, there is no one diet you must adopt to profit your well-being. There are many variants, albeit on a common theme, that empower us all to love the foods that love us back. Shop your options with that goal in mind.

Blended, these and related tidbits of evidence and ingredients of argument come together in a rather lovely recipe. Almost all exercise is good exercise, and you will support your health just by making some movement part of your routine. The more the better for health, generally — but maybe not for net pleasure and quality of life. Some of us love exercise (I do), but some don’t. Across the spectrum from love it to hate it, the optimal dose, intensity, and frequency that lead to the greatest net pleasure and quality of life vary. Only you can choose your sweet spot. You’re the boss.

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