WEDNESDAY, Dec. 22, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Adam Dougherty is laying the groundwork for a long and healthy life.
Dougherty, 25, is a health policy analyst living in Los Angeles with a master's degree in public health from the University of Southern California. He's applying the lessons learned for his career to his own health. He's in pretty good shape, 5-feet-9 and 160 pounds, and he wants to maintain his shape and his health.
"Coming from my public-health background, I'm a really strong believer in prevention and wellness," Dougherty said.
That means keeping both the mind and the body healthy. "I really think physical health and mental health are important counterbalances for the stresses we endure during the week," he explained.
Part of Dougherty's wellness routine includes taking some time each day to do something that relaxes him. "I play guitar," he said. "That's a good way to decompress and detach and calm my nerves."
Dougherty also eats a balanced diet, eating complete meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But he's aware of total calorie intake, adding that a person needs to burn as many calories as they eat in a day if they hope to maintain their weight, and burn more and eat less for weight loss.
"I'll try not to keep a lot of snack foods around, and limit my food intake to meals only," he added.
That's helped him maintain a healthy weight. "I've shed a few pounds since my college days, and that's associated to my beer intake," he said, laughing. "Liquid calories are definitely ones you should stay away from."
Sleep is another health factor that Dougherty pays attention to, trying to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. "It's really important to get enough sleep on a night-to-night basis," he pointed out. "Sleeplessness contributes to stress, which is a major factor in many health problems."
Exercise is another key component to pursuing a healthy lifestyle, he noted. "I do a lot of cardio," Dougherty said. "I'll run a lot, bike and the like. A lot of my friends will focus on strength building, but I think cardio is more important."
He admits, though, that it's not always easy to get enough exercise day after day. "Just going to work every day, it's hard to find time," he said. "When you get home, you're tired and want to relax."
Dougherty's solution is to not give himself a chance to relax. When he comes home, for instance, he doesn't sit down. Instead, he said, "I'll come in and throw on running shoes or head out to play basketball."
Dougherty gets regular physical checkups -- trying to see his doctor at least once a year -- and also pays attention to health problems that he's at risk for because of his family history. He comes from a very Irish, fair-skinned family, he explained, and is particularly concerned about skin health.
"My dad has had skin cancer a couple of times," he said. "I'll go and get a mole checked out if it looks suspect."
A companion article on men's health offers more on what men can do to improve their health.