Dr. Michael Roizen, Chief Wellness Officer of the Cleveland Clinic, offers five tips on how to help achieve wellness through aging by focusing on diet, lifestyle and activity.

1. The Scent That Soothes Stress

Take some time to smell the roses — and a whole horde of other lovely flowers, plants, and fruits that seem to zap stress. Roses — as well as lavender, basil, orange, grape, mango, and lemon — all contain a special compound called linalool, the smell of which apparently reduces anxiety. Make sure you chose only essential oils as the only product in your scents. So once you find a diffuser that puts out those specific essential oils that calm you, and only the essential oils, breathe deeply, and always inhale through your nose.

2. Practice Breathing

You can break the vicious cycle of stress with a productive response to any kind of stressful event: just breathe deeply. The reason why deep and healthy breathing is so important is because it helps transport nitric oxide—a very potent lung and blood vessel dilator that resides in your nasal passages—to your lungs. Short-term research on 90 Swedish adults undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery showed that deep-breathing exercises after surgery improved lung function, compared to patients who performed no breathing exercises at all.1 The patients were instructed to perform breathing exercises hourly for the first four days after surgery and self-reported their exercise. More research is needed to confirm these benefits in other populations.

Of course, breathing deeply also helps in relieving stress. Deep breaths act as a mini-meditation. Shifting to slower breathing in times of tension can help calm you. So, twice a day, for five minutes, practice deep breathing.

3. Count Your Steps (10,000 Every Day)

10,000 steps is the sweet spot for getting maximal health benefit for minimal work, research shows. For instance, Japanese adult men with high blood pressure were able to lower their blood pressure by walking at least 10,000 steps a day for 12 weeks.2Another reason to get your steps in – it may decrease the chance of having metabolic syndrome; a group of conditions that raises your risk for things like heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In a study of more than 1,400 people, the odds of having metabolic syndrome were as much as 72% lower for those that walked 10,000 steps or more a day versus 42% lower for those that walked less than 10,000 steps a day.3 More research is needed to clarify these health benefits in other populations. According to these studies, 10K a day is really the sweet spot where people tend to see health benefits such as lowered blood pressure as well as reduced likelihood of having metabolic syndrome and risk factors associated with this condition. Ten thousand steps is approximately five miles for most adults. These steps can be done throughout the day and do not need to be in one chunk.

4. To Keep Mobile As You Age, Eat Foods That Establish A Meaningful Relationship With YOU

A juicy apple and orange (we can compare ‘em here, and they’re both great), a handful of crunchy walnuts sprinkled on a leafy green salad, a sweet, sun-ripened pear. These foods establish mutual love relationships with you—you love ‘em and they love your body back. And they taste great. Best of all, eating an overall healthy diet, including these foods, may help you maintain your independence and mobility for decades.

In a fascinating large study, researchers from Boston’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital examined the eating habits and health records of 54,762 women over about 18 years.4 Those who ate certain foods, including walnuts and select produce – and who steered clear of food felons like sodium, sugary drinks, trans fat and too much alcohol – were 13 percent more likely to stay mobile and independent compared to those whose diets were less healthy.

That’s big news. More mobility means more freedom to live the life you want.

5. Don’t Forget Your Daily Serving of Omega-3s

The fragile tips on the ends of your DNA? Their length reveals your biological age, or how old your body seems relative to your actual age. And here’s the dinner choice that can may keep them in tip-top shape: salmon and ocean trout (the only two fish in North America with predictable DHA). In a new study, the good-for-you marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) found in these foods appeared to help slow the shortening rate of those fragile DNA tips — called telomeres.6

Telomeres guard DNA the way plastic shoelace tips stop your sneaker laces from fraying. But telomeres grow shorter as part of the natural aging process. And stress, body inflammation, a lack of exercise, and extra pounds can shorten those tips even faster, essentially opening wider the window to all sorts of body-aging cell damage.

Marine omega-3 fats may also boost activity of a telomere-pampering enzyme called telomerase. Which probably helps explain why the volunteers in a recent 5-year study5 — who all had heart disease and were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s — showed such dramatically different telomere length. Although the study findings cannot prove cause and effect, telomeres appeared to shorten nearly three times faster in the people with the lowest blood levels of these omega-3s, compared with people with the highest levels. Since this research was done in patients with coronary heart disease, additional research is needed in other populations to understand how the findings relate to other groups of people.

And don’t forget the plant-based omega-3 ALA. Walnuts are the only nut that offer a rich source of this beneficial nutrient (2.5 grams/ounce). As of now, there is no way to prevent diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, but eating a healthy diet that includes specific foods, like walnuts, may play a role in helping to maintain physical and cognitive health as we age.



Westerdahl E, Lindmark B, Eriksson T, et al. Deep-breathing exercises reduce atelectasis and improve pulmonary function after coronary artery bypass surgery. Chest. 2005;128(5):3482-3488.

2 Iwane M, Arita M, Tomimoto S, et al. Walking 10,000 steps/day or more reduces blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity in mild essential hypertension. Hypertens Res. 2000;23(6):573-80.

Sisson SB, Camhi SM, Church TS, et al. Accelerometer-determined steps/day and metabolic syndrome. Am J Prev Med. 2010;38(6):575-82.

Hagan KA, Chiuve SE, Stampfer MJ, et al. Greater Adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index Is Associated with Lower Incidence of Physical Function Impairment in the Nurses’ Health Study. J Nutr. 2016;146(7):1341-1347.

5 Farzaneh-Far R, Lin J, Epel ES, et al. Association of marine omega-3 fatty acid levels with telomeric aging in patients with coronary heart disease. JAMA. 2010;303(3):250-7.

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