Thursday, January 07, 2010

Stop Worrying about Your Health- For most of us, “pretty healthy” is healthy enough. “Is the goal to live forever?” : Dr. Susan M. Love

Dr. Love, a clinical professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, says that failing to live by the various health rules is a major source of stress and guilt, particularly for women.

“I would contend it’s not. It’s really to live as long as you can with the best quality of life you can. ”Take the issue of sleep. Most people believe that it’s best to get at least eight hours a day. But the studies on which this belief is based look at how much men and women sleep under ideal conditions — silence, darkness and no responsibilities other than taking part in a sleep study. These studies tell us how much people will sleep when they have nothing else to do, but they don’t tell us anything about how much sleep we really need on a daily basis or what will happen if we get less.

The reality is that individual sleep needs can vary. Some people need very little while others need more than the average. “The issue of sleep causes a lot of guilt by women,” Dr. Love said. “We need to be more realistic. If you’re sleepy all the time, you’re not getting enough sleep for you. If you’re fine on six hours, don’t worry about it.

”Likewise, while exercise is important, many people don’t place enough value on the fitness that comes from everyday tasks like lifting and chasing children, lugging groceries and cleaning house.

“The point of this is to use your common sense, and if you feel good, then you’re fine,” she said. “The goal is not to get to heaven and say, ‘I’m perfect.’ It’s to use your body, have some fun and to live a little.”