I'm blessed to have generally-excellent health. I get a nasty sinus/cold thing once or twice a year (I'm just getting over such a bout), but I can't remember the last "sick day" I stayed home from work. It's been years.
Yesterday I went for my annual physical exam.
Weight? On the high side. (Which it's been since I was in junior high. I must be "big boned." haha)
Blood pressure? Check.
Cholesterol? Not checked. It's so steady that my doctor only wants to check every 3 years.
She's always impressed by my bicycling addiction.
At the end of the exam, she said, "Just keep doing what you're doing."
The only way it could've been better is if she'd told me, "You need to eat more donuts, French fries, and red meat."
What makes a person healthy or unhealthy?
Part of it is genetics. If your mom and dad, and grandmama and grandpappy were/are all healthy, there's an increased likelihood you'll be healthy.
My father, and his father, both passed away in their late 70s, but my other grandparents lived healthily into their 80s and 90s, and my mom is still living the good life. So I've got pretty good genes.
But surely another huge part of it is "environment." Where you live, what kind of food you eat and how much, your activities or lack thereof, whether you are exposed to toxins, etc.
I feel confident in making this generalization: No matter your level of health, you will be healthier if you get some daily aerobic exercise, than if you're totally sedentary. If your heart and lungs are challenged, for an hour or even 20 minutes a day, they won't freak out when you push 'em a little bit, because they're used to it.
For many people in 2011 America, it's not very easy to get aerobic exercise. Many get in their car to go everywhere. (I once heard a guy say his driveway is too long, so he drives to his mailbox instead of walking.) Those cars have power steering, so you don't have to work too hard to point it in the direction you want to go. They have power brakes, so you don't have to push on the pedal too hard. On and on. Automatic transmission. Power windows. Power seats, for cryin' out loud! At home, we have a food processor so we don't have to chop. Dishwasher. Clothes washer and dryer. Remote everything - Heaven forbid we should have to stand up and walk across the room! At the office we have escalators and elevators and electric pencil sharpeners.
For 25+ years, bicycling has been my way of getting some non-strenuous daily exercise. One of the many rewards is hearing my doctor, once a year, tell me "Keep doing what you're doing."