7 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle From Rock Stars Who’d Know
Posted 3/8/2016 by UHBlog
Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll get a bad rap.
“But the rock ‘n roll star didn’t have it all that wrong,” says vascular neurologist Michael DeGeorgia, MD.
- Sex lowers blood pressure, provides exercise, decreases the risk of heart attack, lessens pain, reduces the occurrence of prostate cancer, eases stress and improves sleep.
- Drugs, such as a daily aspirin, can help reduce cholesterol and prevent blood clots for those who have suffered or are at risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. (And it’s great for easing a hangover.)
- Rock ‘n roll is a high-energy genre.
“If you’re playing fast, heavy-metal rock music like my band often does, it’s very physical,” says Dr. DeGeorgia, who plays drums in a band called The Codes. “That type of energy and exercise is linked with longevity.”
See Dr. DeGeorgia in Action.
With the recent premature deaths of several influential rockers – such as David Bowie and Glenn Frye – it’s tempting to pass judgment on the rock-and-roll lifestyle. But the truth is, many of us fall prey to the same unhealthy habits as musicians – especially if we travel for business. And while it runs counter to stereotype, not every bass guitarist and lead singer is boozing it up every night. In fact, we could learn a lot from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
Dr. DeGeorgia reveals seven ways we could all live like rock stars:
- Go red – Unless you’re battling chemical dependency, the antioxidants found in wine make moderate drinking beneficial for the reasons stated earlier.
“This is primarily true with red wine, but also includes other types of alcohol,” Dr. DeGeorgia says, cautioning folks to limit themselves to one drink a day.
Rocker Lenny Kravitz, 51, apparently believes in moderation. He has told interviewers he enjoys cocktails, but says he has never consumed enough to get drunk.
- Eat well – If you travel for a living, you probably don’t have the luxury of an accompanying personal chef to prepare nutritious meals. But that doesn’t mean you have to grab burgers and fries on the go. When feasible, eat a decent meal before heading to the airport. Always pack snacks that travel well, such as nuts, whole-grain crackers or dried fruit.
“You need to go out of your way to find nutritious food and that is doable,” Dr. Georgia says. “You can get salads that are mainly vegetables and foods that follow vegetarian/vegan diets in most airports. It requires extra effort to stay healthy.”
Several musicians make that effort. According to multiple media reports, Sting, 65, and Bruce Springsteen, 67, eat a mostly vegetarian diet while Joan Jett, 57, sticks solely to vegetarian fare.
- Move it – Drummers work up a sweat over the course of a two-hour concert. So do lead singers, who leap from one end of the stage to the other. The rest of us should take our cues from them.
“Even small amounts of activity – like walking or jumping once a day – improve your lifespan,” Dr. DeGeorgia says.
Mick Jagger may live forever. The 73-year-old Rolling Stones front man is known to run, swim, kick box and cycle. He also practices yoga, Pilates and ballet.
- Stay connected – “We all need family support on the road, whether we’re in a rock band or a businessperson,” Dr. DeGeorgia says. “Try to connect with family by phone or Skype.”
Better yet, take some time off. That’s what Solange Knowles did back in 2013 when she cancelled several shows to spend time with her children. Skipping work may be a singer’s prerogative, but the rest of us should probably schedule vacation time in advance.
- Soak up the sun – Maybe rockers aren't known for catching a few rays every day, but their roadies often get that chance between hauling equipment into a performance venue and setting up for the next gig. Enjoying the sunshine – and just being outside – for a few minutes daily helps to regulate circadian rhythm (which normalizes sleep patterns) and maintain Vitamin D levels (which boost mental health).
- Get some Zs – This is difficult for musicians who rock the stage until the wee hours or business people who burn the candles at both ends. Taking melatonin, using a light box in the morning to reset circadian rhythm, avoiding late-night alcohol, darkening the room, lowering the thermostat and wearing a sleep mask can help.
But be careful with prescription sleep aids, which can have deadly effects, as we learned from the untimely death of Michael Jackson. The 50-year-old musical icon died of a heart attack that medical examiners say was at least partially caused by abusing an intravenous sleep drug.
- Chill out – Follow the lead of Jon Bon Jovi, 55, who reportedly calms himself by running outside and practicing yoga. Other musicians find meditating, getting massages, drinking herbal tea and, of course, listening to music to be beneficial.
“Music is a very powerful tool that can be very soothing,” Dr. DeGeorgia says. “It stimulates oxytocin and makes dopamine, which is a pleasure hormone.”
Michael DeGeorgia, MD is vascular neurologist and the director of the Neurocritical Care Center and Center for Music and Medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. DeGeorgia or any other University Hospitals doctor online.