- Exercise. You knew this was coming. But did you know that just 15 minutes of exercise a day can buy you an extra three years of life? And those who go the extra mile and put in 30 minutes daily (versus zero) tend to be rewarded with an extra four years of life. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can offset age-related brain shrinkage and improve memory as well as decrease your risk of cancer (by 10 percent) and heart disease (20 percent).
- Stand up while reading articles like this one …and (especially) while watching TV.
- Australian researchers determined that every hour of couch-potato-ness docks 21.8 minutes from a person’s life.
- Join a book club. People with a solid group of friends are 50 percent more likely to survive at any given time than those without one, found Carlin Flora while researching her book Friendfluence. Researchers from Brigham Young University calculated that being a loner is an equivalent mortality risk to smoking 15 cigarettes a day, says Flora—even riskier than being obese or not exercising.
- Better yet, join a French Words et Wine or Mandarin for Beginners group.
- Canadian scientists used CT scans to compare the brains of bilingual and monolingual Alzheimer’s patients and found that being able to speak multiple languages seemed to keep patients cognitively agile for longer. Protective benefits start in childhood, but the research suggests that picking up a new language later in life may also help stave off dementia.
- Nurture your java habit… Drinking four cups of brewed coffee (or the amount of caffeine that you’d get in one Starbucks venti) a day has been linked to as much as a 50 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a 25 percent lower risk of endometrial cancer, and a 20 percent lower risk for depression. (Keep in mind that this daily amount may cause those who are new to the coffee habit to feel jittery and have trouble sleeping.
- . …or fill your mug with tea. In a study of more than 40,500 Japanese men and women, those who drank five or more cups of green tea every day had the lowest risk of dying from heart disease and stroke. Other studies involving black tea showed similar results—but adding milk may cancel out tea’s cardiovascular benefits. Whatever color tea you choose, drink it black, or with honey and lemon.
- Eat wild blueberries for breakfast. These vitamin-and-fiber-packed berries are a surprisingly good source of manganese, which plays an important role in bone health and metabolism. And as the girl at the famer’s market likes to remind you, they\’re bursting with antioxidants (specifically, cancer-preventing anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol).
- …or as a snack. Older adults who drank wild blueberry juice every day performed better on memory tests and were in better spirits than those who drank a placebo, found psychiatrists at the University of Cincinnati.
- Don’t fake it in bed. Several studies have shown a link between living longer and having sex more often (men) and having enjoyable sex (women). While researchers haven’t yet been able to parse out whether sex extends life spans or whether those who have healthier love lives have healthier lives in general, at least one large study of more than 3,500 people showed that regular sex helps us look four to seven years younger.
- Eat fish for dinner. A study by researchers at Ohio State University found that boosting the ratio of omega-3 fatty acids compared with other oils in our system can help lengthen our telomeres, the caps at the ends of our chromosomes, which shrink with age. This means that a regular diet of cold-water fish (or fish oil supplements) could lower the risk for age-related diseases like coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.\
- Get the ginger basil tofu instead of the pad Thai. The herbs and spices can help fight infection and chronic diseases (and the noodle dish is usually swimming in unhealthy oil).
- Take a hike or walk the Freedom Trail in Boston. Expanding your horizons could help expand your brain: German scientists found that mice in the lab who explored new environments grew more new neurons in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that supports learning and memory, than mice who were passive and adventure-resistant.
Adapted from Oprah.com.
Jim Woods is committed to providing world class, leading edge services and products which empower individuals and organizations to fulfill their destiny. He is a life coach, self-help author and motivational speaker. Jim is president of Leadership Matters and InnoThink Group a human resources and leadership management consulting firm. He has an absolute passion for people development and are constantly refining and adapting his programs in order to ensure that they have the maximum impact on those we serve.
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