Phil Heit's Tips for Living Well

The doctor focuses on wellness and preventative health and runs Healthy New Albany.

Columbus Monthly
Dr. Phil Heit at the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany

Phil Heit has spent his life focused on fitness and he has educated many others to do the same. It all started when he was an undergraduate physical education major at Brooklyn College. He was required to read a book called “Aerobics” by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who at 89 today is known as the father of aerobic exercise.

“The data presented in this groundbreaking publication changed my life forever,” explains Heit who went on to earn a doctorate from New York University.

“Although I was a runner in high school and college, I did not fully comprehend how aerobic activity, namely running, could impact my health. After reading ‘Aerobics,’ I decided I was going to train for and run the Boston Marathon. Over 50 years later and countless marathons, my physical, mental and social well-being has been well-served by my aerobically-based lifestyle.” 

Heit arrived in Columbus to teach at Ohio State University, eventually teaming up with professor and co-author Linda Meeks to do more than 350 textbooks. Today he is professor emeritus and was designated early in the development of New Albany as the community’s chief fitness guru. Focused on wellness and preventative health, Heit runs Healthy New Albany, which organizes the largest national walk in the country, produces Healthy New Albany magazine, runs a farmer’s market, teaches cooking classes and other activities. The Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany was named in his honor.

What advice can you give to people of all ages that will help them to live well, especially during pandemic times?

While we have been inundated with the usual mantras of wearing a face mask, washing hands frequently and maintaining social distance, there is much we can do to keep safe and enhance well-being.  

  • Move, Move Move! Try to get outdoors as much as possible. Walk, run, ride a bike or even build a snowman if weather conditions dictate as long as you keep moving.  Physical activity improves the functioning of your immune system as well as your mental health.
  • Step away from your computer every hour and walk around your home or up and down stairs several minutes each time if possible.
  • Create a journal to monitor your snacking habits.
  • Engage in mindful activities daily such as meditation or yoga.
  • Engage in social interactions whether through Zoom or interactive games.
  • Form a book club and have online discussions.
  • Prepare a healthful meal by trying a new recipe.