The way you live from day to day could help protect you from a range of age-related conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, cancer and dementia as well as boosting your energy and happiness levels. Most of us have room for improvement when it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, but the good news is you don’t have to give yourself a complete overhaul – lots of little things count. All these easy fixes have been proven to help keep your body and mind fit and healthy…
Count your blessings
Spend some time once a week writing down all the things you’re grateful for; everything from your lovely friends and family to the relaxing holiday you’ve just booked. You’ll feel happier and will sleep better, according to research from the University of Miami.
Breathe in peppermint oil
Feeling sluggish? Inhale peppermint essential oil to give you a shot of vitality – a US study found it can make you more alert. Sprinkle a couple of drops on a tissue, sniff, and… zing!
Your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes rises with age, especially if you’re overweight, but a shot of sunlight could help. Research has found a dose of Vitamin D could reduce your risk of diabetes. Your body makes the vitamin from sunlight and for the average person spending around 15 minutes outside on a sunny day, with no sun protection, should be enough. Roll up your sleeves, and expose your legs as well so you absorb as much sunlight as possible.
Drink a glass of water
Try to do this every hour. A new survey has shown drinking enough fluids (around 1.5 litres daily) makes you look younger. It keeps all your body’s cells working efficiently and can boost your energy levels.
Enjoy a cuppa
Ideally, make it a green tea as studies have found this may help guard against heart disease and reduce levels of the unhealthy form of cholesterol. Research from Kingston University found that white tea, made from the buds and young leaves of tea plants, has properties that might stave off all sorts of age-related problems such as arthritis and wrinkles.
Have a knees-up
Put on your favourite tunes and whirl around the living room or follow a zumba DVD. Dancing is a great way to boost your heart and lung health, but research has found it can also reduce your risk of dementia by an astonishing 76 per cent if you do it frequently. Aim for a boogie of some description at least four times every week.
Look after those pearly whites
A good dental routine helps keep teeth and gums healthy, which could in turn help protect your overall health. Researchers think gum disease may result in whole-body inflammation that’s linked with diabetes and heart disease. Whether you use an electric or manual toothbrush, you should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day for maximum benefits. Set a timer to make sure you don’t cheat. And remember to floss, too!
Boost your bones with yoga
Do some yoga stretches. One study found that people with osteoporosis or early signs of bone loss who did just ten minutes of yoga daily actually increased their bone mass. Visit www.yogaglo.com for a choice of online classes or go to a local yoga class to learn some postures you can put into practice at home as well.
Phone a friend
Having a ten-minute chat with a friend can help to sharpen your mind in just the same way as doing a crossword puzzle or Sudoku, according to research.
Keep on the move
Sitting down for hours on end either at home or at work isn’t good for you. Getting up to walk about every half an hour can help reduce blood pressure and blood glucose, according to research from New Zealand. Just two minutes’ walking makes a difference.
Enjoy a tipple
Red wine contains resveratrol, a powerful compound that can help give your immune system a boost. For the maximum dose of resveratrol, choose Australian shiraz, Italian sangiovese or French burgundy as these have been shown to contain the highest levels of this super-substance.
Whiz up a smoothie
Eating eight portions of fruit and veg daily can slash your risk of heart disease by 25 per cent. If you struggle to fit that many helpings onto your plate, blitz two big handfuls of kale or spinach with a handful of berries and a banana, plus a cup of almond milk or water, and you’ve squashed at least four of those portions into one speedy drink.
Eat a bowl of bran flakes
Cereal fibre is good for your lung health, American research has found. Even if you have been a smoker it could reduce your risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of conditions including emphysema.
Touch your toes
Your arteries can narrow and harden with age, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.Research has found that exercise which promotes flexibility also helps to keep your arteries supple. Spend a few minutes each day stretching – try to touch your toes and reach behind your back to touch your fingertips together, for example.
Take a walk
Strolling outside, preferably in a green space, is an instant stress-buster. Research has found that just five minutes of gentle exercise, such as walking, can boost your sense of wellbeing and self-esteem.
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.