Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Resolutions You CAN Keep!
I Love these recommendations for a healthy life...and we Sandpeeps seem to follow just about ALL of them!
We are so Healthy!
10 Tips for Better Health
from AARP Bulletin, Jan-Feb 2013
Want to improve your health? New research shows surprising ways to do that.
The days of wine and music are here.
If you think you’re in for another rigorous regimen of dieting and exercise, think again. Our promise: We’ve gathered healthy resolutions you will love to keep throughout the years. These steps—backed by scientific research—offer delightful and sometimes surprising ways to improve your health. Some lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, while others have been linked to a stronger immune system, reduced pain and better brain health. Here, then, are steps you can take today toward a healthier you.
1 Throw a party
Social connections—friends, family, neighbors or colleagues—can help you live longer and better. Research has shown that people with a consistent, active social life are less likely to experience a decline in the ability to reason and remember. Social ties also have a physical effect. A study by Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that social activity may help preserve your ability to perform day-to-day activities as you age. Another study suggests that poor social ties could play a more important role in determining longevity than even smoking, lack of exercise or obesity.
2 Adopt a pet
Whether finned, feathered or furry, pets are good for your health. People who own pets have healthier hearts and make fewer visits to the doctor. During times of stress, a pet can lower blood pressure. Pet owners are more physically fit and tend to be less lonely or fearful than those without pets. And if you want to get in shape, dogs make better exercise partners than humans—they never want to skip a walk. “Animals provide us with much of the same kind of social support that people do,” says Alan Beck, director of Purdue University’s Center for the Human-Animal Bond. And they’re always there when you need them.
3 Choose chocolate
The sweet news about chocolate—that once-guilty pleasure—is that it has now become a darling of the heart-healthy-diet family. How does it work its magic? Dark chocolate is rich in plant compounds called flavonoids, natural antioxidants that help the body’s cells resist damage that may contribute to cancer and other maladies. In addition to their antioxidant properties, flavonoids help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL levels—all of which protect against heart attack and stroke. To reap its benefits, “choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cacao, or cocoa,” says Richard Stein, M.D., professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine. “Researchers don’t yet know the exact amount to advise, so limit yourself to about an ounce a day.” Remember, dark chocolate has calories.
4 Savor your coffee
If you’re a hardcore coffee drinker, scientists have some good news for you. For older adults, coffee—regular or decaf—appears to lower the risk of dying from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and pneumonia, according to new research from the National Institutes of Health. Other research concludes that caffeinated coffee may protect against skin cancer, liver damage, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s. And research from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami finds that three cups of coffee a day may protect against Alzheimer’s disease or delay its onset. So if coffee doesn’t keep you awake at night or give you agita, enjoy that cup of joe—just go easy on the cream and sugar.
5 Raise a glass of wine or beer
A glass of wine, either red or white, is heart-healthy. There’s also good news for those who would rather have a beer instead of a Beaujolais: Beer is good for the heart, according to research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology. Although scientists still don’t know whether the protective effects come from the alcohol itself or from some nonalcoholic component, they agree that both beverages also protect against diabetes and certain types of cancer. But remember: The key to drinking either wine or beer is moderation—one glass a day for women, two for men. More than that can cause serious problems.
6 Have sex
The most damaging myth about older adults is that aging means saying good-bye to sex. On the contrary: In a national survey of more than 3,000 men and women ages 57 to 85, more than half of those 75 to 85 said they have sex more than two or three times a month, and 23 percent claimed to have sex at least once a week. The benefits? Sex causes the brain to release endorphins, the feel-good chemicals that act as painkillers and reduce anxiety. Sex also prompts the release of substances that bolster the immune system. What’s more, sexual activity is associated with lower levels of depression in both men and women, according to a study in the journal Society and Mental Health.
7 Listen to your favorite music
We can hear music even before we’re born, and we continue to respond to it all our lives. Indeed, music profoundly affects health. Listening to your favorite music may be good for your heart. Emotions aroused by joyful music cause tissue in the inner lining of blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine report. Music also brings on sound sleep, boosts mood and reduces anxiety. And studies show that patients feel less pain and need less pain medication after surgery if they listen to music while recuperating. Neuroscientists hope to discover why music affects us the way it does. But for now, just play your favorites, sit back and enjoy.
8 Take a nap
A midafternoon nap can help improve mood, memory, alertness and learning—and it won’t interfere with your nighttime zzz’s, according to New York’s Weill Cornell Medical Center. Naps come in different lengths. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, find that a 90-minute siesta clears the brain’s short-term memory storage center and makes room for new information. Snoozing for 20 minutes improves alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy. Sipping a cup of coffee before closing your eyes will help you wake up alert. It takes about 20 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, so its effects start to kick in when you wake. Even a six-minute micro-nap may help improve memory, according to a German study.
9 Go au naturel
Spend some time outdoors in natural settings. Staying in touch with nature is essential for good health, says University of Illinois researcher Frances “Ming” Kuo, author of an overview of the research on the relationship between nature and human health for the National Recreation and Park Association. Greener environments cut the time it takes to recover from surgery, improve the way the immune system works and help diabetics achieve healthier blood glucose levels. “Much like eating greens provides essential nutrients, so does seeing and being around green,” Kuo writes. Surprisingly, as little as five minutes a day of walking in a city park, cycling, gardening, fishing, boating or other outdoor activity can boost your mood and sense of well-being, according to a study from the University of Essex, England.
10 Get off your soapbox
To save time, money and your health, stop using the high-octane soaps and household cleaners that contain the antibacterial agent triclosan. Antibacterial soaps are no more effective than plain-jane soaps in ridding your hands of germs and preventing illness, according to research from the University of Michigan. Washing your hands in warm water with plain soap for 20 seconds will do the job. What’s more, triclosan may contribute to the rise of dangerous, disease-causing bacteria resistant to antibiotics. You also should cut down on sprays that clean furniture, polish glass and perfume rooms. Researchers in Europe found that adults who used these common household products once a week or more increased their risk of developing asthma by a significant 30 to 50 percent.
And finally “Living a long and healthy life has a lot to do with living an enjoyable life,” says Stein of the NYU School of Medicine, “so these are all good suggestions to follow.”
And he adds one more to our list:
“At least once a week, buy yourself the present of spending time doing exactly what you want.”