Friday, 25 March 2011 21:14

10 Ways to Improve Your Health

Written by  Vanessa Geneva Ahern
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Whether it’s kicking that nicotine addiction or trying to pursue hobbies and rituals that bring you happiness and reduce stress, high on your resolution list is become a healthier human being. Here’s 10 ways to improve your health without pain or major money commitment.

1) Quit Smoking-even Social Smoking - Whether you are smoking a pack a day, or only smoke when you are at a party with other closet smokers, or under a bad mood emergency, quitting all cigarettes for good can only benefit your health because each cigarette impacts the future of your lungs. The organization “Ex: Become an Ex-Smoker” offers smokers the support to quit. One of their key strategies is to address “triggers” (Perhaps you have seen the commercial of the secretary who blends a margarita at work before she sneaks off on a smoke break?)  For example, if you have a favorite party jacket that you like to wear when you smoke or a comfy chair you like to smoke and relax in—hide it in storage or give it to charity.  Talk to your doctor about which nicotine aides are best for you.

2) Exercise Your Brain - Maybe you haven’t picked up a clarinet or a flute since your high school marching band days, but a new research shows that learning a new instrument or just practicing music can improve memory and language skills. Recent studies have also shown that playing video games, even a basic one like the popular Tetris can improve cognitive ability and give your brain a boost by challenging it without frustrating it.  So you don’t have to feel so guilty when you while away an hour on Facebook playing Bejeweled.

3) Tackle Stress in Baby Steps - Feeling stressed? “Sometimes vitamin deficiencies can trigger symptoms of stress like having frequent headaches, being overly fatigued, or having chest pains,” says Sharagim Kemp, DO, Health Quest Medical Practice.  Be sure to keep up with yearly physical check-ups to get the right blood work done.  Dr. Kemp also advises patients to take time management seriously by allocating Me Time, saying “No” more often, and making shorter, more realistic to-do lists.

4) Ditch the Yo-Yo dieting - Although you may yearn for your skinny jeans, your body would be better served by vowing to stave off fad diets, liquid diets, and quick weight loss detox programs. Make peace with your scale, and try to remember that slow and steady wins the weight loss race.   You don’t have to say no to apple cider donuts forever. You can limit a dessert indulgence to Saturday night, and enjoy healthier desserts like baked apples with cinnamon and walnuts, suggests, Rufia Payman, on weekdays.  A research study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle discovered that “Yo-yo dieters” have fewer cancer fighting killer cells in their bodies and therefore weaker immune systems than women who remain at a stable weight.

5) Meditate-Daydream - Studies show that Buddhist monks who meditated thousands of hours had higher brain activity than meditation novices.  If you don’t have 15 minutes to spare, then just take 5 minutes to daydream or tune out the world and your Blackberry.  Dr. Kemp emphasizes that when you are in a situation where stress becomes overwhelming, walking away from the situation and taking that 15 minute quiet time to decompress becomes even more important.

6) Squeeze in fitness - According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical activity offers multiple benefits including lowering cholesterol, stimulating your metabolism, and reduces the risk of cancer. “If you like to shop, walk in the mall. If you like to do yard work, there are always more leaves to rake or snow to shovel. Make an extra trip up and down stairs whenever possible,” says Dr. Heffernan of Health Quest Medical Practice,Division of Primary Care in Highland .If you prefer to work out in a cozy indoors, then buy rent work-out DVDs, join a gym, or invest in an exercise bike.  Even 15 minutes twice a day is enough to release endorphins that combat stress hormones in the body.

7) Listen to your body - If something is bothering you do more than a Google search.  “Weird symptoms usually are not due to serious problems. However, if you feel that a symptom is weird, it could always be something important. When you are concerned about a problem, having a medical evaluation can only help. If the symptom is due to something simple, then you can be reassured and feel more at ease. If the symptom was due to something more significant then you will be glad you went,” says Dr. Heffernan.

8) Take your sleep seriously - The Center for Disease Control recently announced that getting a good night’s sleep is one of the important things people can do to help in preventing the flu. A Carnegie Mellon study also showed that people who got adequate amounts of sleep (over 7 hours) were less likely to get a cold because their immune systems were stronger.  If you have trouble sleeping, make sure you do not have a medical problem (sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome). If it’s insomnia only, it may be time for some lifestyle modifications.  “What really gives you the rhythm for the sleep wake cycle is the wake up time. The first thing is that you always wake up the same time every morning, because that is going to drive your day. By not getting enough sleep, your appetite hormone balance changes, you crave chocolate and carbohydrates, and your immune system doesn’t work as all,” says  Dr. Barbara Chatr-Aryamontri.

9) Go Mediterranean - “The Mediterranean Diet is high in consumption of fish, olive oil, very little read meat, and nuts. We know that eating the Mediterranean way really reduces cholesterol, Diabetes, and reduces risk of depression, and leads to longer life,” says Rufia Payman, Director of Nutrition and Education at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck.  Use olive oil when cooking instead of butter, and avoid high-fructose corn syrup, and avoid processed food when possible.

10) Lower your cholesterol - “You have to learn to love the food that loves you back and cooking should not be a chore. Cooking should be something you do because you love your self,” says Payman.  Try to resist the lure of the fast-food drive through during the winter. Instead of a fast-food snack, pack a small bag o of your favorite nuts in the car.  According to a recent John Hopkins study, men with lower cholesterol levels were less likely to develop a high-grade deadlier form of prostate cancer.


Click your way to better health: Quit Smoking Information

Last modified on Monday, 19 December 2011 02:18

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