01/29/2015 12:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Are You Giving Your Body Its Best Shot at a Long, Healthy Life?


Think of your health like a savings account. Are you saving for a rainy day? There's so much we can do right now to contribute to our future wellbeing and longevity. Ask yourself these questions to get on track for a long, happy, healthy life.

How healthy are you now?
Whatever your age or health, now is the time to get a thorough and accurate baseline. Schedule a full physical with your health care provider and ask about any concerns. Do a self check-up as well -- how healthy to do you feel? Do an honest inventory of your habits, lifestyle, physical changes, weight and level of self-care.

Are you an optimist?
New research from the University of Illinois found a strong connection between outlook and heart health. The study found that optimists are twice as likely to be in ideal cardiovascular health as pessimists. Choosing to view the glass as half full can pay off now and in the future.

Are you having fun?
If not, what are you waiting for? Sure, there's work, family obligations, bills and worries. But there's also laughter, vacations, silliness, trashy novels, walks outside, whole days in your pajamas, relationships and time with friends. You just have to seek it out. Find ways to combat and release stress and live in the moment -- it will do wonders for your physical and emotional wellbeing.

What are you doing today for your body?
While we can't change our genetic risk factors, there are several things we can do right now to increase our odds of living and aging well. Are you getting enough exercise? The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the Department of Health and Human Services recommend adults get at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week and do strengthening activities at least two days a week. Increasing your strength and balance can prevent falls and maintaining healthy bone density can prevent injury. How's your memory? Research from Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center shows mentally stimulating activities like reading, card games, crossword puzzles and visiting museums may reduce Alzheimer's risk. Are you getting enough sleep? According to research from the National Institute of Health, one third of American adults aren't getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep.

Are you working toward something?
Having a purpose and a goal keeps us living, striving and moving. What's yours? Reaching a professional milestone, giving back, climbing Mount Whitney, getting fit, going back to school, remodeling your house -- whatever the goal, once you reach it, set another one.

The start of a new year makes it the perfect time to think about short and long term changes. Your future self will thank you for the contributions you make now to your health and wellbeing. It's never too late to make changes to feel better today and increase your chances of living a longer, healthier and happier life.

What are you doing to age well? Share and comment.

Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga, and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people worldwide. The international franchise business hosts a network of 7,800 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries. For more information, visit