5 Steps to Lower Alzheimer’s Risk

Push-ups stimulate blood flow to the brain, generating new brain cells, which are your body's most effective weapon against cognitive disease. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Push-ups stimulate blood flow to the brain, generating new brain cells, which are your body’s most effective weapon against cognitive disease. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, affecting some 5.4 million Americans, according to Alzheimer’s Association. Lower your risk with this 5-step plan from Dr. Mehmet Oz and neurologist Dr. Majid Fotuhi (via www.doctoroz.com):

  1. Take a DHA supplement. Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid that makes up much of your brain tissue. This supplement will reduce inflammation, fight the plaque buildup associated with Alzheimer’s, and increases blood flow to your brain. Research has shown that taking 600mg of DHA supplement daily for six months can help your brain to function as if it were three years younger.
  2. Switch things up. Adding variety to your daily mental routine cross-trains different muscles in your brain to prevent memory impairment. Try putting your watch on your opposite wrist, using your opposite hand while brushing your teeth, doing your hair, eating or writing.Continue Reading …
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13 Tips to Get More Sleep

Tip #11: Put socks on cold feet to fall asleep faster. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Tip #11: Put socks on cold feet to fall asleep faster. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Besides sapping your energy, experts agree that lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Here are 13 tips for getting more shut-eye–and feeling more energized the next day (via The Huffington Post):

1. Set a specific bedtime for yourself. And be realistic. If you have to wake up at 7 a.m., staying awake until 1:30 a.m. each night probably won’t be enough.

2. Get ready for bed well before your bedtime. Sometimes, you can feel too tired to get ready for bed, resulting in an even later bedtime. To avoid this, try getting ready for bed well before you turn off the light.

3. Rest in darkness. Shut the blinds, block out any lights from your computer, clock or phone. Even a digital alarm clock’s tiny light can disrupt a sleep cycle, so it’s important to keep your room as dark as possible.

4. Stretch. Research has shown that people who have trouble sleeping can get more restful sleep if they stretch a few times per week.

5. Lower the thermostat. Studies show that the optimal range for sleep is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue Reading …

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10 Natural Ways to Ease Anxiety

Sipping on chamomile tea helps calm frazzled nerves and promotes relaxation. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Sipping on chamomile tea helps calm a nervous stomach and promotes relaxation. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Feeling nervous? Try one of these tips to feel calmer in minutes (via Care2.com):

  1. Sip chamomile tea. The chamomile herb relaxes nerves and can calm stomach discomfort.
  2. Chew on cardamom seeds. The cardamom spice has been used for centuries in the treatment of many physical and emotional ailments. (Bonus: it also freshens your breath!)
  3. Stop and smell the roses. Enjoy a cup of rose hip tea, spritz some organic rose water on your face (eyes closed), or enjoy the scent of a fresh rose bouquet to help you relax.
  4. Breathe deeply for five minutes. This is the single most effective way to calm frazzled nerves.
  5. Phone a friend. Telling a friend how you’re feeling and listening to their familiar voice will give you comfort and a fresh perspective.
  6. Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal. This whole grain releases serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter.Continue Reading …
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5 Exercises for a Healthy Heart

Yoga is a great moderate-intensity exercise that strengthens the heart muscle while improving balance and flexibility. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Yoga is a great moderate-intensity exercise that strengthens the heart muscle while improving balance and flexibility. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s National Heart Month! Here are 5 great exercises to maintain a healthy ticker (via Heart.com):

  1. Aerobics. Getting your heart rate up is essential for heart health. Try climbing the stairs, taking a brisk walk, or exercising on the elliptical machine or treadmill.
  2. Swimming, jogging, pilates and yoga. These are all moderate-intensity activities that work to strengthen your heart muscle.
  3. Strength training. This exercise does not increase heart rate, but is a great complement to aerobic exercise because it builds muscle and stamina, enabling you to do aerobic activities for longer periods of time.
  4. Balance exercises. These strengthen your body’s stabilizing muscles, helping you to prevent falls and injuries. Yoga incorporates many balancing poses. You can also try walking heel-to-toe, standing on one foot, or standing up and sitting down without using your hands.
  5. Stretching exercises. Stretching increases flexibility, and recent studies have linked it to improved cardiovascular health. Try adding 10 minutes of stretching twice per week to your regular workouts.
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5 Tips for a Healthier, Happier Valentine’s Day

Show your sweetie you care about their heart and their health this Valentine's Day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Show your sweetie you care about their heart and their health this Valentine’s Day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all chocolates and candy. Follow these five tips to love yourself and your sweetheart even better (via Care2.com):

  1. Enjoy a healthy activity together. Start your day with something fun and active. Head out for sledding or ice skating, try out your roller skating skills at the indoor skate rink, or take your dog to the off-leash dog park together. Doing something physical also increases your energy level, priming you to enjoy the rest of the day even more.
  2. Enjoy a healthy meal together. Cook a favorite meal together at home, or head to your favorite restaurant for a night out. Choose a satisfying, but comparatively light dish to avoid loosened belt buckles and bloating (not romantic!). Another great option is an indoor French picnic, with light hors d’oeuvres, cheeses and fruits, all bite-sized so you can feed each other. For more culinary inspiration, check out our post on 10 red and pink superfoods here.Continue Reading …
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10 Ways to Find More Time to Exercise

Get off the bus one or two stops early to add steps--and calorie burning--to your day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Get off the bus one or two stops early to add steps–and calorie burning–to your day. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Between work, family, friends and everything else, you’re busy. Here are 10 ways to fit more exercise into your life (via Fitness):

  1. Turn your commute into a workout. When the weather permits, consider walking, running, biking or blading to work. Worried about the sweat factor? If you take public transportation to work, bring your sweats and sneakers  and jog home afterwards. Not a runner? Get off the bus a stop or two before yours, or park further from the entrance to get in some extra steps.
  2. Set your alarm early. You can adjust your sleep schedule (read: go to sleep earlier!) to allow you to wake up earlier. It feels great to cross off working out on your to-do list before breakfast. Afraid you’ll hit the snooze button? Sleep in your workout clothes, or set them out the night before, so that you can just get up and go.
  3. Sneak in a lunch break workout. Use those 60 minutes to your waistline’s advantage by fitting in a gym session or a long walk. You’ll also be more productive when you get back to your desk.Continue Reading …
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6 Health Benefits of Cold Weather

Though they may be uncomfortable at times, freezing winters benefit and preserve our health in more ways than one. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Though they may be uncomfortable at times, freezing winters benefit and preserve our health in more ways than one. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Brrr, it’s cold out there! But some evidence suggests that all our winter shivering is good for us. Perhaps it’s partly why Minnesota has the second-highest life expectancy of any U.S. state (we’re on to you, Hawaii). Here are six more health benefits of cold weather (via The Huffington Post):

  1. Cold weather burns more calories. Recent research has shown that simply being cold burns more calories, as your body workers harder to maintain its temperature. It may also trigger “brown fat” in the body, a good fat that can burn off other “white” fat.
  2. It brings us closer together. During periods of weather-induced isolation, you are more likely to reach out to your family and friends on the phone, and tend to chat with them for longer than usual, reducing stress and promoting happiness.
  3. It’s less favorable for disease-carrying bugs. Mosquitoes and ticks have a much harder time surviving in winter, drastically reducing your risk of contracting diseases they can carry, like West Nile virus and Lyme disease.Continue Reading …
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7 Ways to Stay Healthy at Work

Chat up a coworker for a few minutes to relieve stress and promote happiness. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Chat up a coworker for a few minutes to relieve stress and promote happiness. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Adopt these seven tips and tricks to stay fit and healthy during your workday (via MindBodyGreen):

  1. Kick your morning (or afternoon) caffeine habit. Caffeine’s quick high comes with an equally sudden “crash” later on, leaving you feeling even more drained. It’s also addictive and a diuretic, which dehydrates you. It can be a hard habit to break because it becomes part of your daily routine. Try replacing it with something healthy, like fruit or nuts, and find other ways to add pep to your step, like chatting with coworkers.
  2. Keep healthy snacks on hand. To ward off trips to the vending machine or office candy bowl, keep healthy snacks like hummus, veggies, fruit, nuts, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread handy for when hunger strikes. Snacking on nutritious food every few hours will also keep your blood sugar levels steady, so that you aren’t ravenous between meals.
  3. Be smart about breakfast and lunch. Busy schedules often mean more eating out, but eating out doesn’t have to mean foregoing good nutrition. For breakfast, seek oatmeal topped with fresh fruit or a veggie omelet. For lunch, hit the salad bar and load up on fruits and veggies. And whenever you can, bring food from home. It’s cheaper and allows you to know precisely what you’re eating (just check the nutrition label).Continue Reading …
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5 Health Benefits of Smiling

Smiling relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and even strengthens your immune system. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Smiling relieves stress, lowers blood pressure and even strengthens your immune system. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

It’s true: when you smile, you’re improving your health. Here are 5 ways smiling makes you healthier. Now that’s something to smile about! (via Care2.com):

1. Smiling lifts your spirits. Even if you’re not feeling it…put on a smile. The simple act of smiling, especially when you smile at someone else and they reflect that smile back at you, can cause your body and mind to feel happy.

2. Smiling relieves stress. When you smile, you are physically releasing your jaw muscles, which tend to be tightened in times of stress. The jaw muscles attach to the neck muscles and, when tightened, can lead to headaches. You also look less stressed since you minimize those frown lines on your forehead.Continue Reading …

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12 Desk Stretches to Increase Flexibility

Try the "look up" stretch to release tension in your back and shoulders. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Try the “look up” stretch to release tension in your back and shoulders. (Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Desk job? No worries. Do these stretches daily to avoid back pain and increase flexibility and energy (via WebMD):

  1. Try the no-hands stand and sit. Try a few rounds of standing and sitting without using your hands for balance. This increases your core strength.
  2. Sit on an exercise ball. Trading your regular desk chair for an exercise ball engages your entire body as it uses its muscles to keep you balanced.
  3. Shrug your shoulders. This release tension in your neck and shoulders. Inhale deeply and shrug your shoulders, lifting them high up to your ears. Hold. Release, exhale and drop. Repeat three times.
  4. Make air circles. Clench your fists, stretching both hands out in front of you. Make circles in the air, first in one direction, to the count of 10, then reverse the circles for 10 more counts. Shake out the hands.
  5. Point your fingers. This is good for your arms, wrists and forearms, which can hold tension during long periods of typing. Stretch your left hand out in front of you, pointing fingers toward the floor. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, gently pushing your fingers down and toward the body. Do the same with the other hand. Next, stretch your left hand out straight in front, wrist bent, with fingers pointing skyward. Use your right hand to increase the stretch, pulling the fingers back toward your body. Do the same on the other side.
  6. Twist your torso. This releases tension in your entire upper body. Inhale and as you exhale, turn to the right and grab the back of your chair with your right hand, and grab the arm of the chair with your left. With eyes level, use your grasp on the chair to help twist your torso around as far to the back of the room as possible. Hold the twist, then slowly come back to facing forward. Repeat on the other side.
  7. Do leg extensions. These work your legs and your abdominal muscles. Grab the seat of your chair to brace yourself and extend your legs straight out in front of you so they are parallel to the floor. Flex and point your toes five times, then release and repeat.
  8. Give yourself a hug. Hug your body, placing the right hand on your left shoulder and the left hand on your right shoulder. Breathe in and out, releasing the area between your shoulder blades.
  9. Cross your arms. To stretch your shoulders and upper back, extend one arm out straight in front of you. With the other hand, grab the elbow of the outstretched arm and pull it across your chest, stretching your shoulder and upper back muscles. Hold. Release. Then stretch out the other arm in front of you. Repeat.
  10. Give yourself a “leg hug.” To release tight shoulders and back, sit on the edge of your chair. If it has wheels, wedge the chair against the desk or wall to make sure it does not roll. Put your feet together, flat on the floor, then lean over, chest to knees, letting your arms dangle loosely to the floor. Release your neck. Bring your hands behind your legs, right hand grasping left wrist, forearm (or elbow if you can reach that far), left hand grasping the right. Feel the stretch in your back, shoulders and neck. Hold. Release your hands to the floor again, and repeat three times.
  11. Look up. To release your upper body, sit up tall in your chair, or stand up. Stretch your arms overhead and interlock your fingers. Turn the palms to the ceiling as you lift your chin up, tilt your head back, and gaze up at the ceiling, too. Inhale, exhale, then release.
  12. Walk instead of email–and don’t eat at your desk. Instead of dashing off an email to an office colleague, walk over to the person you want to talk to. And instead of eating at your desk, walk around the block before you eat, or walk to a local sandwich place. The more steps you can get in throughout the course of your day, the better. They do add up!

 

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