Eat This: The Surprisingly Simple Diet to Live Longer

Ever wonder what the secret is to living longer? That’s a million dollar question, right?

People have been looking for a quick fix to live longer for centuries. Here’s two examples:

The Fountain of Youth

In the 16th century, Spanish explorer Ponce Deleon sailed across the oceans in the 16th century in search of the Fountain of Youth.

The theory…Drinking from the Fountain of Youth or bathing in its mystical waters could reverse the aging process, cure sickness, and maybe even help you live forever.

But it doesn’t exist.

The $35 Billion Supplement Industry

In the United States, Americans spend an estimated $35 billion a year on supplements that promise big benefits like:1

  • Lose weight
  • Improve skin
  • Boost mood
  • Build muscle
  • Improve sexual function
  • Slow the aging process

But few of these supplements actually produce positive and measurable results.

“They have been shown to be ineffective in many cases and pose serious health risks to consumers,” says Harvard School of Public Health Researcher Dr. S. Bryn Austin.

Maybe the secret to living longer doesn’t have anything to do with mystical waters or supplements filled with empty promises.

So why do some people live longer than others?

There’s more than one factor at play. But it’s clear that healthy eating habits make a difference.

In a recent study, researchers tracked the eating habits of 74,000 people for 12 years.1

Researchers found that healthy eaters had a lower risk of death than people who didn’t eat a healthy diet. Healthy eaters were also less likely to die from heart disease or stroke.

So what did they eat?

The healthiest people who lived the longest ate more:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Fish
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy fats
  • Lean meats

Now you know what to get the next time you go to the grocery store, plan a meal, or order out.

But what if you’ve been eating burgers and fries all your life?

If you change your diet now, will it do any good? Yes.

Even small changes to your diet over time can cut your risk for chronic disease and early death (mystical water and dietary supplements optional).

Get Outside: 15 Ways to Boost Health and Happiness

Looking for an easy way to improve your health and be happier?

It might be as simple as spending a little more time outside.

Here’s an example…

When the young Cheryl Strayed reached a tipping point in her life, she needed this desperately.

Her marriage failed. Her mother died. She bounced from one job to the next as a journalist, waitress, office worker, youth advocate, and medical technician.

She made a lot of unhealthy choices. And she knew something had to change.

So she filled a backpack with a few essentials, put on some hiking boots, and headed for the great outdoors.

For the next three months, Strayed hiked north from California to Washington, along 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. The journey changed her life and inspired her best-selling memoir, Wild.

You may not be planning to hike a thousand miles or go on a three-month camping trip. But spending some time outside is good for your health and happiness.

Let’s take a closer look at the health benefits of spending time outdoors, and how you can do it.

Inside or Outside? 5 Fun Facts You Need to Know

Wondering if spending more time outside can make a difference? Check this out…

1. Stuck inside. The average adult spends 93% of their time inside (home, office, store, car).

2. The happiness factor. People who spend 120+ minutes per week outside are happier than those who don’t.

3. Stress relief. Spending time in natural settings (parks, trails, greenspace, beach, etc.) can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.

4. Daily dose of sun. Just a few minutes in the sun each day can boost vitamin D levels, improve bone health, and strengthen the immune system.

5. Mood matters. Exercising outside increases serotonin levels and helps reduce depression and anxiety.

How much time do you spend outside per day or per week?

Research shows spending time outdoors in natural settings can have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.

Step Outside: Discover the Health Benefits of the Great Outdoors

Have you ever felt a little stressed out, overwhelmed, or in a funk? Or maybe you’re looking for ways to improve your health and prevent disease.

Do this: Step outside a little more often.

Researchers looked at data from 143 studies and found that spending time outdoors may help:

  • Improve mood
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase longevity
  • Prevent and control diabetes
  • Raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels
  • Lower the risk for certain types of cancers

Research also shows spending time outdoors can help:

  • Increase vitamin D levels
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Support weight management
  • Boost creativity

HealthyRx: Spend 120+ minutes a week outside

Starting to get the picture? Spending time outdoors is good for your health and happiness. But how much time makes a difference?

  • 120+ minutes per week. In a study of 20,000 people, researchers found that people who spend at least 120 minutes a week in nature are happier and healthier than those who don’t.
  • Break it up. Researchers also found that spending less than 120 minutes per week outside wasn’t enough to provide measurable health benefits. Break it up into smaller chunks of time that fit your schedule.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen. If you’re going to be outside for longer than 10+ minutes in direct sun, don’t forget the sunscreen. Sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) or 30 or higher blocks 97% of the sun’s harmful rays.

15 Simple Ways to Spend More Time Outside

Want to improve your health and feel happier? Spend more time outside.

You don’t have to spend three months outside or walk 1,100 miles like Cheryl Strayed did on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Instead, spend a few minutes outside every day (and maybe a little more on the weekend). Check out these 15 simple ways to spend more time outside:

At Home

1. Work in the yard. Mow the lawn. Water the flowers. Plant a garden. If you don’t have a yard, help a friend who does.

2. Eat en plein air. That’s French for “outside.” Make breakfast, lunch or dinner, and enjoy it outside. Try the deck, backyard, balcony or driveway.

3. Chat with neighbors. Remember this? Most adults spend 93% of their time indoors. Take a walk and visit your neighbors.

4. Get the mail. If you have a community mailbox, take a walk to get it (instead of driving up to the curb…you’ve seen people do this, right?)

5. Go for a walk. Walk the dog. Take a stroll through the neighborhood. If it’s close enough, walk to complete simple errands. Just walk to the end of the street. Or swap a gym workout for jogging or running outside.

At Work

6. Host a walking meeting. You know…instead of sitting in a conference room or staring at a screen on a video call.

7. Eat lunch outside. Take your lunch to an outdoor eating area or nearby park. If you go out to eat, eat outside when the weather’s good.

8. Take a walk break…outside. Take a short walk break a couple times a day. Just 15 to 20 minutes can boost your mood and creative juices.

9. Read outside. Maybe you’ve got a lot of paperwork to sift through. Or you want to take a break to read something a little lighter like a novel or magazine. Find a place where you can read outside.

Out and About

10. Park far away…when you go to the store. Then walk across the parking lot.

11. Go for a hike. Find a trail, nature park or greenspace in your area and hike or walk.

12. Plan a picnic. Pack a lunch with your favorite foods and find a place to have a picnic like a park, beach, or even your backyard.

13. Try camping or glamping. Pack your tent, sleeping bags and camping gear for a night in the outdoors. Or make it a little easier and stay in an RV, cabin, yurt, or rental where you can get away and get outside.

14. Look up at the sky. Catch a sunset. Or go outside on a clear night and look up at the sky.

15. Go exploring. Chances are pretty good there’s some outdoor gems in your area you haven’t been to yet. Go exploring. Get outside and visit a park, trail, lake, beach, or natural area you haven’t been to before.

15 Ways to Beat Seasonal Allergies at Home

Dust mite word cloud

You open the shades on a sunny summer day to let in some sunlight. Maybe you take a walk in the park, or work in the yard.

That might sound refreshing. But if all you can see is green grass, flowers in bloom, and clouds of dust, pollen and other allergens in the air, you might be thinking, “Oh no. It’s allergy season.”

Seasonal allergies: About 50 million people in the United States suffer from seasonal allergies. Common symptoms include…

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Maybe even trouble breathing if you have asthma

If your summer season includes a lot of tissues, elbow coughing, and even missed days at work because of seasonal allergies, is there anything you can do about it?

Yes.

15 Keep-It-Clean Tips to Beat Seasonal Allergies at Home

It’s tough to avoid many of the allergens that trigger an allergic reaction. It’s even harder if you spend a lot of time outside.

But inside…a little cleaning can go a long way to help you breathe easy and avoid asthma and allergy problems.

Here are some things you can do:

In the kitchen

  1. Clean floors, cabinet surfaces, backsplashes and appliances weekly. Use soap and water.
  2. Keep the refrigerator clean. Use a little vinegar to clean.
  3. Use an exhaust fan when you cook to reduce moisture and mold.

In bedrooms/living room

  1. Use dust-proof covers for pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
  2. Wash bedding weekly.
  3. Vacuum carpets, sofas, and chairs weekly.
  4. Wash rugs and floor mats weekly. Mop hard surfaces.

In the bathroom

  1. Use an exhaust fan to reduce moisture from baths and showers.
  2. Wash rugs, mats, and linens weekly
  3. Dry the tub or shower with a towel after use to prevent mold growth.

Around the house

  1. Keep windows closed during allergy season. Use air conditioning (AC).
  2. Get rid of any items that collect dust.
  3. If you have indoor pets, keep them out of the bedroom.
  4. Change the air filters in your air-conditioning and heater seasonally.
  5. Avoid using cleaning sprays. Research shows frequent use of cleaning sprays increases the risk for asthma and breathing problems. Use vinegar.

If you have asthma or allergies, you can still enjoy sunshine and summer. Just take a little extra time to keep your house clean to reduce dust, pollen, and other allergens.

Be More Active: You Won’t Believe How Far This Guy Walked!

Young man hiker on a top of a mountain

Former Army Ranger Holly “Cargo” Harrison wanted to see if he was tough enough to go the distance.

So he laced up a pair of hiking boots. He grabbed some poles and gear. And he headed about as far south as you can go to Ushuaia, Argentina.

That’s where he started walking. For the next 17-1/2 months, he walked every day. His journey included border crossings, bad weather, health problems, and other challenges.

But Harrison didn’t let those things stop him. He kept going. And eventually, he reached his goal, arriving in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, after walking more than 15,000 miles.

“As it turns out, my walk took me to a place that I never expected to go,” says Harrison. “Physically, I arrived at Prudhoe Bay, but emotionally, I reached a place deeper within myself…”

A simple way to improve your health: Walk more

At some points during his journey, Harrison walked 30 miles a day. That’s a lot. You don’t need to exercise that much to improve your health. But you should be active.

    • How much exercise do you get? About 77 percent of adults don’t get enough aerobic (30 minutes a day) and strength exercise (2 days a week).1

But if you want to improve your health, feel better, manage your weight, and prevent chronic disease, a little more exercise can help.

Here’s an easy way to start: Go for a walk.

Make it a regular part of your day. If you don’t have a 30-minute block of time, take three short walk breaks throughout the day.2

Take one step, and then another. And track your progress. That’s the same way Harrison made it all the way from Argentina to Alaska.

Eat Healthy Fats: 9 Foods to Help Control Cholesterol

Did you know the type of fats you eat can have a big impact on cholesterol levels?

Pizza, french fries, baked good, fast food, red meat. These foods contain the kind of fat that can lead to high cholesterol and serious health problems.

Having high cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Both are leading causes of death in the United States that claim the lives of about 857,000 people a year.1

The scary truth about cholesterol…

  • Total cholesterol. An estimated 94 million adults in the U.S. have total cholesterol levels higher than normal.2
  • Only 1 out of 3 adults with high cholesterol have the condition under control.
  • There are no symptoms. Many with high cholesterol don’t even know it.

How’s your cholesterol?

A simple blood test can measure cholesterol for:3

  • Total cholesterol. A measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.(Healthy level for adults = 125 to 200 mg/dL)
  • LDL (bad) cholesterol. The main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries. (Healthy level for adults = Less than 100 mg/dL)
  • HDL (good) cholesterol. HDL helps remove cholesterol from your arteries (Healthy level for adults = 40 mg/dL or higher)
  • Triglycerides. The most common type of fat in your body.

5 Types of Fatty Foods to Avoid or Limit to Control Cholesterol

Walk down the aisles at the grocery store and you’re bound to see dozens of product packages labeled “low-fat.”

Don’t be fooled. In most cases, the label just means the item is low in saturated or trans fat, and not a good source of healthy or unsaturated fat.

Here are 5 types of fatty foods to avoid or limit:

  • Meats: Beef, lamb, pork, sausage, bacon, hamburgers, hot dogs, steak
  • Full-fat dairy: Whole milk, cream, butter, ice cream, cheese
  • Animal and solid fats: Lard, vegetable shortening, hard-stick margarine
  • Baked goods using solid fats: Pie crust, cake, cookies, pastry, doughnuts, crackers
  • Coconut or palm oil: Non-dairy toppings and creamers

Is it healthy fat? Here’s an easy way to tell. If it’s solid at room temperature, it’s not healthy.

Add These 9 Healthy-Fat Foods to Your Diet

Fortunately, not all fat is bad. Healthy fats, or unsaturated fats, found in plant-based foods, protect your heart and brain, and help lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.4

Hungry for better health? Add these healthy fats to your diet:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Canola, soy, and other non-hydrogenated plant oils
  3. Trans fat-free, soft tub margarines
  4. Salad dressings made from non-hydrogenated vegetables oils
  5. Cold water fish, such as salmon
  6. Olives and avocados
  7. Nuts and seeds, including flax seeds
  8. Plant-based spreads, such as hummus or nut butters
  9. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes

Plant-Based Power to Control Cholesterol

Choosing foods with less trans fats and saturated fats will help lower your blood cholesterol levels and protect your health.

Plant-based foods are cholesterol-free, low in and saturated fat. They even help lower cholesterol because of their healthy fat and fiber content. Try:

    • Tofu
    • Avocado
    • Soy products
    • Legumes (peas, beans, lentils, etc.
    • Vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole-grain foods are good sources of healthy fats, too.

Eat more healthy fats, and you’ll be healthier, feel better, and live longer.

Start Here: 6 Lifestyle Habits to Manage Your Weight

Healthy Habits

Ever wonder how to tip the scale in the right direction?

Here’s some advice…

A fad diet, insane workout, weight-loss supplement, or gimmicky piece of workout equipment won’t help you achieve long-term results.

You might get a quick win, and lose some weight. But after a few weeks or months, you’re back to square one. Yo-yo dieting like this can take a toll on your health.

  • Did you know about 74 percent of adults are overweight or obese?2 It’s a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, adopt these 5 healthy habits:

1. Step on the scale
It’s a great place to start.

  • Weigh yourself once a day, and keep track of where you’re at.
  • A recent study found that a daily weigh-in can help you maintain your weight or even lose a few pounds.

When you weigh yourself daily, you’re more likely to be mindful of your food choices.

2. Drink more water
It’s zero calories.

  • A typical 20-ounce soda contains 240 calories.
  • Drinks like fruit punch and orange juice contain 115 to 150 calories.
  • A classic alcoholic drink like beer or wine, 150 to 225 per drink.

Your body needs water to stay hydrated and support digestion, brain function, movement, and more. Avoid or limit other kinds of drinks

3. Focus on fruits and vegetables
If you want to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, focus on eating more fruits and vegetables.
Why? They’re high in nutrients, but low in calories. And most adults don’t eat enough.

  • Only 9% of adults eat enough vegetables per day (2-3 cups)
  • Only 12% of adults eat enough fruit (1.5-2 cups)

Eat fewer desserts, sugary treats, cream, and sauces, and aim for more fruits and vegetables.

4. Cook healthy food at home
How often do you go out to eat? It might be convenient, but you’re more likely to overeat when you do, according to a recent study.

  • A survey of 364 different restaurant meals found that the average dining-out meal contains 1,500 calories.
  • Add drinks, appetizers, and desserts, and one meal contains more calories than most adults need in a day.

Instead, cook more healthy food and meals at home more often during the holidays. Your menu should include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread or pasta, nuts and seeds, and legumes.

5. Keep track of what you eat
Use a free-app on your smartphone to keep track of what you eat. Food diary or calorie-counter mobile apps make it easy to:

  • Set a daily calorie goal
  • Keep track of what you eat
  • Monitor your weight/progress

Research shows you’re more likely to make better food choices, maintain your weight, or even lose weight, when you do this.

6. Be more active
You don’t have to run a marathon or climb a mountain. But regular exercise will help you burn calories to help you lose weight. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise on most days.

  • Go for a walk, jog, or run.
  • Ride a bike.
  • Swim
  • Work in the hard
  • Exercise at the gym or take a fitness class

If you’re looking for easy and sustainable ways to lose weight, keep it off, and maintain a healthy weight, keep it simple. Adopting these 5 lifestyle habits will help you tip the scale in the right direction.

ExerciseRx: Improve Your Mood with a Daily Dose of THIS

Invest in your health

What if you could do something for just an hour a week to avoid feeling sad or depressed? Would you do it?

Think about it…

  • There are 168 hours in a week.
  • That’s 10,080 minutes.
  • After sleeping, going to work, and other need-to-do tasks, could you find just a few minutes a day in your busy schedule?

It might be as easy cutting back on screen time, waking up a few minutes earlier, or taking a needed break during the workday.

Q: Could an hour a week really make a difference in the way you feel?
A: Yes, when you use that hour to be active.

A recent study found that even a little exercise can improve your mood and help prevent depression.

In the study, researchers tracked 33,908 people for 11 years. They looked at exercise habits and the number of people who developed depression.

People who were active an hour a week or more were 44 percent less likely to develop depression.

“The key finding from this study is that doing even a small amount of regular exercise seems to protect adults against future depression,” says lead researcher Dr. Samuel Harvey.

The problem…most people don’t get enough exercise.

  • Here’s how much exercise you need: The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and strength training exercise at least two days a week.
  • Here’s how much exercise most people get: Only 23 percent of adults get the minimum amount of exercise.

If you’re already getting at least 20 minutes of physical activity a day, keep it up.

But if you’re not, start small with just a few minutes a day. Go for a walk. Take the stairs. Ride a bike. Pick an activity you enjoy, and get going.

It’s a great way to beat the blues, improve your health, and prevent depression.

4 Foods for a Heart-Healthy Diet

Smart food choices can help prevent heart disease

Thump-thump…Thump-thump. Your heart beats about 100,000 times a day. And if you want to keep it that way, paying attention to what you eat can make a big difference.

If you’re thinking about improving your diet to keep your heart healthy, start by answering these two questions:

  1. How often do you eat French fries, red meats, pizza, pastries, and processed foods?
  2. How often do you have sugary drinks?

If you eat a lot of these foods, you’re at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other health problems. These conditions can damage your arteries, which can lead to a heart attack, stroke, and death. Consider this:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. It claims the lives of about 659,000 people a year.1
  • Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack.2 Some recover. Some require surgery and long-term therapy. And many don’t survive.
  • About half of all adults in the U.S have some form of heart disease.3 But it’s largely preventable with healthy lifestyle habits, starting with your diet.

Eat heart-healthy foods

Choosing the right foods can help prevent heart disease. If you already have heart disease, or you’re at risk, improving your diet can help, too. And it’s easy.

Research shows eating more plant-based foods and less junk food can improve heart health.4

Ready to give your heart some love to keep the beat? Eat more of these heart-healthy foods:

1. Fruits and vegetables

At meal time, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

Brightly-colored fruits, berries, and leafy-green vegetables are best. They have high levels of antioxidants that can help prevent plaque build-up in your arteries.

Eating more fruits and vegetables and less junk food can help prevent a heart attack or stroke.

  • Aim for 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

2. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain healthy, unsaturated fat. This kind of fat helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which can protect your heart from disease.

Nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that can improve the health of your arteries and reduce the risk for blood clots.

  • A handful of nuts (about 1½ ounces) per day can help keep your heart healthy.

3. Legumes
Or if you prefer…”Beans, beans the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you….”

Beans or legumes like black beans, kidney beans, and peas, contain the highest amount of fiber of any food group.

High-fiber foods can lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk for diabetes, and curb hunger to avoid weight gain.

  • Women need at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day for best health.5
  • Men need at least 38 grams per day.

4. Whole Grains
Whole grains contain bran, fiber, and other nutrients that help lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides (or fat) in the blood. This is good for heart health.

  • Eat at least 3 servings of whole grains per day.

A variety of grains is best, especially ones high in water-soluble fiber. Try:

  • Oatmeal
  • Brown rice
  • Whole-grain cereal, breads, and pastas
  • Quinoa

Eating a plant-based diet is the best way to reduce your risk for heart disease. Other lifestyle habits to improve heart health include regular exercise, a healthy weight, stress management and limiting alcohol and tobacco.

If you’re not used to eating for heart health, start small with a healthy snack. Gradually add more fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains to your eating plan. Then keep it up to keep the beat.

The Easiest Exercise to Improve Heart Health

Improve heart health in 30 minutes a day

When Illinois-resident Lynn Kata stepped on the scale 40 pounds overweight, she knew some things had to change.1

Soda, sugary drinks, and fast food were a regular thing. And exercise? No so much. But she was determined to get healthy.

She started making better food choices. Then she decided to give exercise a try.

“I started walking every morning,” says Lynn. “Each day I went a little farther and faster until I was walking about three miles each time.”

At first, it just felt like a lot of work. But little by little, she started to see results.

Want to keep your heart healthy as you age?

Check your schedule. Can you carve out 30 minutes? Too busy? How about two 15-minutes blocks of time.

In a recent study, researchers looked at walking habits and risk of hypertension in a group of 83,435 women over an 11-year period.2

They found that walking just 30-plus minutes a day can cut the risk for hypertension and heart-related problems by up to 21 percent.

“Our work adds to growing evidence that you don’t necessarily have to be an avid jogger or cyclist to gain health benefits from physical activity,” says lead researcher Dr. Connor Miller. “Just going for regular walks can have a meaningful impact on important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

Here’s what happens when you lace up and go:3

  • 1 minute of walking can extend your life by 1.5 to 2 minutes.
  • 10 minutes of brisk walking burns an average of 50 calories.
  • 20 minutes of walking 5 days a week cuts the risk for heart disease and diabetes in half.
  • 30 minutes of walking a day will burn an average of 7 to 10 pounds of body fat in a year.

Walking is one of the easiest forms of exercise you can do to keep your heart healthy.

At 40 pounds overweight, Lynn knew she was at risk for heart disease and other health problems. But she wasn’t about to run a marathon or train for a triathlon. So she just started walking.

“I was thrilled to see that the weight began to slowly go down day by day,” says Lynn. “It felt good to be outside. My mental health was benefitting, too. And I really started to see my body change.”

After about a year of consistent effort, Lynn lost those 40 pounds. And now she’s on a mission to help other people. “I hope my fitness journey will inspire other people to take back their health,” says Lynn.

Pick up the pace and make brisk walking a habit to:4

  • Lower LDL (bad cholesterol)
  • Control blood sugar
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Build cardiovascular strength and endurance
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Burn calories
  • Reduce stress
  • Improve your mood

What’s the easiest exercise to keep your heart healthy? Put on some shoes and go for a walk.

Sources

  1. Kata, L. (2020). Success stories: Lynn Kata. National Weight Control Registry. From: www.nwcr.ws/stories.htm
  1. Miller, C., et al. (2020). Walking volume and speed are associated with incidence of treated hypertension in postmenopausal women. Hypertension, 76(5): 1435-1443. From: https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.120.15839
  1. Moore, S., et al. (2012). Leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity and mortality: A large pooled cohort analysis. PLOS Medicine. From: https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1001335
  1. Harvard University. (2020). Reinvent your walking regimen. Harvard Health Publishing. From: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/reinvent-your-walking-regimen

Exercise in Cold Weather: Here’s What you Need to Know

Runner Man Wearing Gloves

Be smart about exercising during winter weather

It’s too cold or wintery to go out…That’s a classic excuse to avoid exercising when the temperature drops.

But cold weather doesn’t have to keep you from getting outdoors.

Every year, a small group of runners bundle up to brave temperatures around -22° F to run the Antarctic Ice Marathon.

Race officials make sure runners have the proper clothing for the conditions.

The runners wear layers of…

  • Thermal
  • Fleece
  • Windproof clothing.

They also cover their hands, feet, head, and face to run in the cold. And along the frozen 26.2-mile course, runners take breaks in heated tents.

Ice Marathon Race Director Richard Donovon says it’s very important to keep the hands, feet, and ears warm.1 These are the most at risk in cold temps.

Cold weather exercising is great if you are prepared. But experts suggest you exercise indoors when temperatures or the wind chill factor drops below 0° F.

For exercising in “normal” cold weather, take a tip from cold-weather exercise experts that head up the U.S. Antarctic Program.2

Dress in layers of clothing..

  • Jacket
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Tights/pants
  • Long-sleeve shirt
  • Undershirt

The layers help maintain your body heat and wick moisture away from your skin.

As your body temperature increases during your workout, you can remove a layer.

Take care to protect your hands, ears and feet with thick, warm gloves, socks, and hat.

If you have asthma or other breathing problems, talk with your doctor. You may need to avoid exercising in cold weather.

And if it’s too cold or nasty outside, stay indoors. Go to the the gym. Walk at the mall. Or use a treadmill or stationary bike.

Manage Stress in Healthy Ways: 7 Tips to Protect Your Health

Healthy lifestyle habits help reduce impact of stress

You’re running late, stuck in traffic, and it happens every day. Maybe you’re trying to work from home, manage kids, and follow COVID-19 restrictions.Stress Management

Maybe you’re stressed out about money, a health issue, or a difficult relationship. Or maybe you’ve just experienced one of those traumatic life events that changes everything.

Any of these stressful life experiences sound familiar?

Everybody experiences stress at some point. And even good things can be stressful, like starting a new job, getting married, or moving to a new house.

But when chronic stress rules your life, it can take a toll on your health and happiness. New research even suggests chronic stress increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.1

In the study, researchers followed a group of people for about four years. They looked at the area of the brain that tries to make sense of stressful events. And they found that higher levels of activity in the amygdala increase the risk for heart disease (the leading cause of death in the U.S.).

“Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease,” says lead researcher Dr. Ahmed Tawakol. “This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological well-being,”

So what should you do when you’re feeling stressed out?

Some people try to ignore stress, hoping things will get better. And sometimes they do.

Others turn to food, tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and other unhealthy habits to manage stress. And it usually creates more stress and other health problems. OK. That’s what not to do to manage stress.

If you’re living with chronic stress, your risk goes up for depression, eating disorders, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, trouble sleeping, and more.2

If you’re feeling stressed out, here are seven tips to protect your health.

1. Sit Less, Move More

Just 20 to 30 minutes of daily walking, yoga, or other exercise can improve your mood as well as physical health.3 It burns up stress hormones, and stimulates the mind to help you relax and think better about your problems.

2. Take a Deep Breath or Two or Three…

Breathe. It might sound too simple, but it really works. Try it. Take 10 deep breaths. Inhale, then exhale…slowly.

Deep breathing has a calming effect that can reduce stressful feelings such as anger, anxiety, and fear.4 Making this a regular habit can also help lower blood pressure and increase your energy level.

3. Get Your Zzzs

Sleep on it. Aim to sleep 7 to 8 hours a night. If that’s a challenge, take a nap during the day. too. Adequate sleep can help reduce stress and restore the body to a relaxed state. When you don’t sleep well, hormones linked to stress are higher, raising your risk for heart disease and other health problems.5

Other ways to reduce stress include:
4. Eat a healthy diet.
5. Spend time with family and friends.
6. Laugh more.
7. Make time for a hobby you enjoy.

If you’re always stressed out, talk to your doctor or ask a professional for help. You’ll feel better and live longer.

Quit Smoking If You Do: 5 Steps to Success

Don’t Smoke or Quit If You Do: 5 Steps to Success

If you don’t smoke, vape, or use tobacco, keep it that way.

“The majority of smokers regret ever starting to smoke,” according to a recent study.1

If you do smoke cigarettes, use tobacco, or vape, NOW is always the best time to quit.

Why? Smoking, vaping, and tobacco use contribute to:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Immune system damage
  • Arthritis

An estimated 443,000 Americans die each year from health problems linked to tobacco use. Even though tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States.2

So if you’re ready to quit tobacco use and vaping, how do you kick the habit? Here are 5 steps to success:3

1. Set a quit date

An estimated 71 percent of tobacco users regret starting. Most try to quit at some point, but often relapse. If you’re serious about quitting, set a date to quit and create a plan to be successful.

Set a quit date. Put it on your calendar. Let your family and friends know your plan. Get clear about why you really want to quit. And when you’re ready, get rid of all your cigarettes, tobacco, and vaping supplies in your home, office, and car.

2. Pick a plan to help you quit

There’s more than one way to quit smoking, vaping, and using tobacco. Some people even use multiple methods to quit and never go back. The most common options include:

  • Quit cold-turkey: You set a date to quit, and that’s it. No going back.
  • Cut back a little at a time. Instead of quitting cold-turkey, you gradually cut back on smoking and vaping a little every day. It’s one way to gradually reduce cravings, until you’re no longer addicted to the nicotine in tobacco and vaping.
  • Use medications. Over-the-counter and prescription medications, patches, and supplements can help you quit smoking. Talk with your doctor to help you decide if you need medications to quit for good.
  • Behavior-change therapy. Working with a counselor or therapist can help you quit smoking. There’s also a growing number of mobile apps designed to help you quit smoking, with daily reminders, exercises, and tracking tools.

3. Practice distraction to curb nicotine cravings

Once you quit, you’re going to experience cravings. At first, those cravings to smoke, vape, or use tobacco might be pretty intense. And you need to be prepared for that so you don’t relapse.

Keeping yourself busy, distracting yourself, and being around people who want to help you quit is a good plan of action. Here are some things you can do:

  • Go to a movie
  • Work out or go to the gym
  • Visit non-smoking friends
  • Take a walk
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
  • Try a new hobby that keeps your hands busy, like painting, playing an instrument, knitting, or building something.
  • Work in the yard or garden.

4. Eat healthy snacks to control hunger

Nicotine stimulates a part of the brain that suppresses appetite. So when you quit smoking cigarettes, vaping, and using tobacco, chances are pretty good you’re going to feel hungrier.

And you need to be prepared for that. When you get a craving while you’re trying to get, avoid or limit junk food, and eat healthy snacks to curb your appetite like:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Popcorn (go easy on the butter and salt)
  • Sugar-free candy, mints or chewing gum

5. If you relapse, don’t give up

Research suggests it takes the average tobacco user an estimated 8 to 11 attempts to quit for good.4 If you relapse, don’t give up. Get back on track and keep working breaking the habit.

You’ll be healthier, feel better, and live longer.