As we hit midlife, getting—and staying—healthy can seem harder and harder to do. But these 10 sweat-free tips can have you on the road to good health right now.
When it comes to getting healthy, you may find yourself sounding a lot like Little Orphan Annie: "Tomorrow! Tomorrow!" (Sorry. Now, you'll be humming that song all day.)
Actually, humming that ditty is not such a bad thing—even if show tunes aren't your thing; which leads us perfectly into our list of 10 ways to improve your health.
Be sure to also check out our companion video to this story, with Roy S. Johnson personally demonstrating these 10 tips:
DE-STRESS: It's no secret that stress can pummel your body and mind, especially as you age, causing all manner of maladies, such as sleep problems, heart disease, and depression. Your body can naturally handle a certain amount of stress, but why leave it up to Mother Nature? Make it a point to do something every day to de-stress your life: Singing a catchy tune, is just one of the ways you can affect your health in a positive way. You could read a book (old-school or tablet); take a walk; or you could put down the remote, close your eyes, and breathe deeply for a few minutes. In fact, try it now!
DRINK MORE WATER:I know, just thinking about it congers images of you doing endless laps to and from the bathroom. I can't lie and say drinking more water (about half your body weight in ounces is recommended—eg. a 120-pound woman should drink 60 ounces of water daily) won't make you go a little more often, but the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. Ensuring that your body is hydrated enough will moisten tissues, lube your joints, promote the flow of nutrients throughout your body, and help your kidneys and liver remove wastes from your system.
TAKE A WALK:It really doesn't get any easier when it comes to ways to improve your health. And the benefits are many. Walking strengthens your heart and bones, improves your sleep and diminishes stress. Moreover, it can keep your mind sharp by minimizing the natural loss of memory that comes with age. That's according to a study of 6,000 women who were at least 65 years old, conducted by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. The women who walked at least 2.5 miles daily had a 17 percent decline in memory, verus a 25 percent decline among women who walked less than a half-mile each week. So find a good pair of sneakers and get out the door. Don't forget your keys!
SEE A DOCTOR REGULARLY:Seeing a doctor regularly (and not just when something hurts—which, for me, is pretty much every day!) could be one of the most critical ways to improve your health. A doctor will help answer any questions you may have about pursuing a healthier lifestyle and making sure your body is ready for regular exercise. He or she might also detect the onset of an illness before you have any symptoms.
PLAY BRAIN GAMES:I'm sure you're familiar with those video games your nephews, nieces, or grandkids hook up to your television every time they visit. Next time, take them on! In fact, playing more games could improve your health as well. Bet you didn't know half of all "gamers" are midlifers anyway! They've discovered numerous games that are fun, challenging, and may actually reduce symptoms of dementia and keep you mentally sharp. Be sure to check out the brain games and online crosswords on this site—see the navigation/menu bar on Play Goes Strong.
READ FOOD LABELS: One of the healthiest things you can do takes place in the kitchen and at the grocery store – reading food labels gives you knowledge, and knowledge is power, especially when it comes to what you're putting in your body. What to look for depends on your specific dietary needs, goals or, say, conditions or allergies. First and foremost, pay no attention to the marketing claims ("Fat Free!", for instance, on the front of the product. They can be misleading.) Turn it around and dissect the official nutritional label. In general, you primarily want to note the amount of fat, sodium, and carbs in food. And in each case, less is better. The amount of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (like fiber) are here as well. So look for the positive aspects of the foods you eat. One critical thing to note: serving size. This will help you determine how much of any ingredients are in your portions.
AVOID SUGARY DRINKS: Stay away from the soda aisle. In fact, try to avoid all sugary drinks. A typical soda contains the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar. A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that even one soda per day may increase the risk of heart disease in men by 20 percent, and increasedthe risk of diabetes in women by 25 percent. Diet drinks aren't the answer either (see No. 2 above).
EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES DAILY:Fruits and vegetables contain vital nutrients such as calcium (healthy bones), fiber (decreased risk of coronary disease, among other benefits), iron (healthy blood cells), potassium (blood pressure), Vitamin A (eyes, skin) and Vitamin C (teeth, gums, etc.). Also, try to make fish a part of your diet at least twice a week—it's low in sodium and a great source of protein (a vital source of health for all cells in your body, which uses it to build muscle and repair tissues); B12 (a key blood component, used to produce blood cells and maintain healthy nervous system); Omega 3 fatty acids, which can boost heart health and help with such conditions as arthritis and depression; and fish oil, a great source for Vitamin D.
MANAGE YOUR PORTIONS: A rule of thumb is that your plate should contain one protein, a grain, and veggies, all in a fist-sized portion. If you think this makes you look like you're on rations, use a smaller plate. Really. It works. Your eye fools your mind into believing you're getting your fill.
GET MORE SLEEP: As we age it becomes harder to get a good night's sleep. Our body clock changes and we also become more susceptible to insomnia, snoring, and sleep apnea. Insufficient sleep can lead to all sorts of maladies, in part, because it can alter the hormones in our bodies that regulate our metabolism and appetite. Hence, lack of sleep can make you fat. It can also make you stressed. One important thing to consider getting is a new mattress. A Better Sleep Council Survey found that many older people have been sleeping on the same mattress for more than 10 years and, as a mattress ages, it becomes less comfortable, which means we don't sleep as soundly or as long. Oh yes, let's not forget, avoiding caffeine and alcohol could also help you sleep better.
Try these 10 easy-ways-to-improve-your-health tips today, and you will have one heck of a day—and a healthier tomorrow!