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What makes life unpleasant?

Healthspan-Lifespan Sketch

Decreased quality of life is largely attributable to 3 categories of health issues:

  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Cognitive problems
  • Mental health/relationship problems

Why it matters:
Just like the main causes of death (cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia), the main causes of human suffering can largely be prevented or at least delayed with attention to healthy behaviors. Additionally, effective treatments for such conditions are known, and often include exercise, sleep, or nutritional approaches.

(Of course, there are many illnesses and conditions that fall outside these categories, but for now let's focus on a few basic principles that can help to keep us on the high end of quality of life.)


Musculoskeletal problems (e.g. arthritis, neck/back pain, falls)

  • Exercise helps to maintain muscle mass and strength which protects joints and reduces fall risk
  • Attention to flexibility and mobility helps us interact in our environment as we would like (can you get off the floor using just your legs and one hand? Just legs and no hands?)
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight reduces stress on our joints and soft tissues

Cognitive Problems (e.g. memory loss, decreased processing speed)

Mental health/relationship problems (e.g. anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness)

  • Exercise improves mood and reduces anxiety and sensations of stress
  • Effective treatments for anxiety and depression exist and include both medication and non-medication based approaches
  • Prioritizing good relationships may help prevent loneliness, which has emerged as a significant predictor of both poor mental health and poor physical health

Going Deeper:

  • Built to Move. Book by Kelly Starrett and Juliet Starrett.
  • Common Misconceptions Surrounding Alzheimer's Disease. Short video from Alzheimer's Universe and Dr. Richard Isaacson.
  • What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from The Longest Study on Happiness. TEDx Talk by Robert Waldinger.

Have an amazing week,

Dr. Topher Fox

P.S. If you missed any previous emails, the content is posted weekly here

P.P.S. Below are the pictures from my exam room wall which we are exploring for this email series. 

Dr. Christopher Fox I am a board-certified endocrinologist in Superior, CO, and I have been in private practice since 2003. People I work with achieve success when they learn all the ingredients of healthy lifestyle and the system to consistently follow through on good intentions. I use my knowledge of endocrine science, psychology, neuroscience, and human behavior to help people make meaningful, lasting changes in their health that they can sustain long-term.

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