Better to get fit late than never
Geoffrey Chaucer, author of "The Canterbury Tales" of 1387, was the first person to pen the phrase "For bet than never is late." But "better late than never" is a mantra we want everyone to hear loud and clear today! So listen up, middle-age slackers: No matter how overweight or inactive you are, there's new proof that if you're 40 to 50 years old and have never gotten much exercise or paid attention to what you eat, you can turn your life around. Start by walking a mile in 25 minutes. Then increase your pace to a mile in about 18 minutes. That will slash your risk of heart failure by up to 40 percent (ditto if you go from jogging a mile in 12 to 10 minutes) and your risk of dying of lung, colon or prostate (guys) cancer by more than 40 percent. PLUS, you'll build muscle mass, lose body fat and shed pounds. That matters because middle-age body fat stiffens arteries -- a sure route to heart attack, dementia, sexual dysfunction and stroke. And if you have a stressful work environment (who doesn't?), working out regularly (at least 30 minutes daily; we say, walk 10,000 steps a day) and eating healthfully (no saturated or trans fats, no added sugars or sugar syrups and only 100 percent whole grains) can triple your chance for healthy aging. So no matter what shape you're in, look to the future with hope and enthusiasm. * * *Recognized as the most significant environmental hazard to children in the U.S. and Canada (children's growing bodies absorb lead easily), high blood levels of lead are associated with irreversible IQ deficits, attention-related behavior problems and poor academic achievement. But in 2012, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered the safe threshold for lead exposure (from a blood level of 10 mcg to 5 mcg), doubling the number of U.S. kids at risk for lead poisoning to 500,000, legislators slashed the national lead abatement program budget from $29 million to $2 million. (Does that sound appropriate to you?) Now it's up to communities and families to take up the campaign. Lead was banned from most paint in 1978; if your house or local schools and recreational facilities were built before then, have them checked for lead paint. An effort in Rochester, N.Y., resulted in a 68 percent decline in children with elevated blood lead levels. Call your city and state Environmental Protection Agency for info on how to proceed. Get a home-testing kit (about $10) and check anywhere you find peeling or cracking paint. For advice on safe removal, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD. Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.