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Doctor: Shed stress to ward off age-related diseases

Cleveland Clinic's Wellness expert Dr. Michael Roizen says stress can be our biggest enemy.

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If you think your job and personal life are stressful, then ask yourself, "Why would anybody want to be president"?

It's often cited as the most stressful job that a person can have. But that Oval Office-sized stress can teach people to manage their own anxieties.

We've witnessed the aging that takes place in our last two presidents over two terms in office—the job comes with a lot more gray hair.

Cleveland Clinic's Wellness expert Dr. Michael Roizen says stress can be our biggest enemy.

"It decreases your memory, it increases your risk of infections and cancer," Roizen said. "It increases your risk of all of the common—heart disease, stroke, memory loss, kidney failure—diseases that are associated with arterial aging, so it is the greatest ager we know of."

Roizen says stress is a common factor in all our lives, and there are several life stressors that can really take a toll on your aging: Life events such as dealing with the death of a loved one, moving, divorce, and taking a new job are among them.

Other stress that ages us is the result of unfinished tasks, such as major projects hanging over your head at work.

Roizen says human beings are equipped with the stress reaction choice called "fight or flight."

For most everyday stressors we face, Roizen says, find a way to deal with the problem to make the stress go away and ward off accelerated aging.

"You've got to get a plan to deal with it, and that, by dealing with it, you help yourself," Roizen said. "So, the most important way of doing it is, doing the unfinished tasks, dealing with the issue."

So, the big tip is don't procrastinate, take care of problems before they become bigger.

Doctors also say people have to find a daily routine that helps them relax and get their minds off problems. For some that means daily prayer, and for others, meditation is a very popular way to relax.

Roizen recommends that people find at least five minutes, once in the morning and once in the evening, to devote to your preferred way of relaxing and focusing on positive things in your life.

Presidents spend a lot of time away from the office on vacation or being active. President George W. Bush was often seen riding a mountain bike on his Texas ranch; President Barack Obama enjoys relaxing on the golf course.

Everyone needs to find a favorite physical activity that helps them release the physical symptoms of stress, such as tight muscles and headaches.

Just getting more fresh air and heart-pumping exercise will make you feel much better.


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