5 Health Tips For Your Body And Mind
1. Exercising for a Healthy Heart
If you exercise regularly, you may lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke. If you’re middle-aged or older and haven’t been exercising regularly or have a chronic health problem, work with your doctor to develop an exercise program. To condition your heart safely:
• Start at a comfortable level of exertion
Try walking five to 10 minutes over a short distance indoors. Increase five minutes a session, as tolerated.
• Schedule regular exercise
Aim for 30 to 60 minutes a day of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity.
• Include variety
Combine three types of exercise — stretching (flexibility), endurance (aerobic) and strengthening (weight training) —
and three levels of intensity — warm-up, workout level and cool-down — in each exercise session.
• Cross-train to reduce your risk of injury
Alternate among exercises that emphasize different parts of the body, such as swimming, bicycling and walking.
• Don’t overdo it
Start slowly and build up gradually, allowing time between sessions for your body to rest and recover. And forget the saying “No pain, no gain.” A little muscle soreness when you do something new isn’t unusual, but soreness doesn’t equal pain. If it hurts, stop doing it.
• Increase your physical activity
Even routine activities such as gardening, climbing stairs or washing floors can burn calories and help improve your
health, although not at the same level as a structured exercise program. Just keep moving: Walk or bike to the store instead of driving, park farther away at the shopping mall, take the stairs instead of an elevator.
2. Choosing a Home Blood Pressure Unit
You can track your blood pressure by using a home monitor between checkups. To choose the best monitor for you, ask your doctor for advice and balance convenience with accuracy:
• Know your options
Aneroid models are inexpensive and easy to transport. They include a stethoscope. Some have extra-large dials for easier reading, but they aren’t recommended if you have trouble
hearing or have poor dexterity in your hands. Electronic (digital) models are the most popular and can be expensive, but they’re easy to use. However, if your heart rhythm is usually irregular, an electronic model may give you an inaccurate reading. Wrist monitors are difficult to calibrate, and digital finger units aren’t reliable.
• Get a good fit
Most monitors have standard-size inflatable arm cuffs. If your arm is too large or too small for the cuff, buy the right size. A poor fit reduces accuracy. The inflatable portion of the cuff should wrap around 80 percent or more of your upper arm.
• Consider your abilities Is the gauge or digital display large enough to read easily? Do you hear well through a stethoscope? Can you easily pump the inflatable cuff?
• Test before you buy
Ask your health care professional or medical supply salesperson to show you how to get the most accurate reading.
• Learn how to use it properly
After you buy a blood pressure monitor, take it with you to your doctor’s office. In addition to making sure the device works properly, your doctor or nurse can help you learn how to use it.
• Check accuracy
Every six to 12 months, have your home monitor checked against a standardized unit at your doctor’s office, fire department or public health service.
3. Staying Mentally Sharp
Boost your memory and develop habits that can help counter age-related memory loss:
• Make associations
For example, if you’re introduced to Fred who has red hair, link his name to his hair color.
• Choose what to remember
If you meet several people at once, focus on remembering a few key names.
• Recite, retrieve and review
Recite key information several times to learn it and retrieve it often. Review information you’ll need, such as paging
through your high-school yearbook before your reunion.
• Break it down
Break down new information into units. For example, to memorize a long-distance phone number, break it down into the area code, three-digit exchange and four remaining numbers.
• Pay attention
Forgetfulness may indicate nothing more than having too much on your mind. Slow down and pay full attention to the
task at hand. Reduce distractions.
• Keep track of appointments, tasks and contacts
Use appointment books, calendars, to-do lists, address books or computer software — whatever works for you.
• Develop routines
For example, put frequently used items such as keys in a designated spot when not using them.
• Create rituals and cues for common tasks
For example, make sure your keys are in hand before locking your car doors. Place packages you need to mail near the
front door so that you won’t forget them.
• Consider meditation
Preliminary research indicates that meditation increases blood flow to the area of the brain that’s associated with memory.
4. Digestive and Urinary Tracts
Avoiding Heartburn – Heartburn results from a backup of acid-containing stomach contents into your esophagus. Here are tips for prevention:
• Eat smaller meals
Too much food expands your stomach and puts pressure on a band of muscle (the lower esophageal sphincter) that helps keep food and acid from backing up into your esophagus.
• Avoid alcohol, fatty foods, chocolate, spearmint and peppermint
These foods can relax your lower esophageal sphincter and promote upward flow of stomach contents.
• Consider using an antacid or H-2 blocker. Antacids such as Maalox, Mylanta, Tums and others help neutralize stomach acids temporarily. Over-the-counter histamine (H-2) blockers such as Pepcid AC, Tagamet HB, Zantac 75 and others reduce stomach acid production, which may relieve or prevent symptoms when taken before a meal. But overuse of antacids or H-2 blockers can cause side effects.
• Don’t eat before sleeping Wait two to three hours after eating before lying down. This allows enough time for increased stomach acid produced after a meal to taper off and for the stomach to empty from that meal.
• Stop smoking
The nicotine from cigarettes can relax your lower esophageal sphincter, allowing acid to flow back into your esophagus.
• Lose excess weight
Slimming down if you’re overweight helps reduce the pressure your abdomen puts on your stomach when you’re lying down.
• Wear loose clothes
A tight belt or waistband can put pressure on your stomach and push acid into your esophagus, causing discomfort.
5. Elevate the Head of Your Bed
Raise the head of your bed four to six inches. This helps keep stomach acid in your stomach, where it belongs.
Preventing excess gas
Too much gas typically is caused by the incomplete absorption of certain starches and sugars during digestion. Bacteria in your intestine then ferment the sugars, forming gas. To prevent excess gas:
• Limit gassy foods
The worst gas-formers are beans and other legumes, wheat and wheat bran, cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, sauerkraut, apricots, bananas and prunes. Milk and other dairy products also can cause gas if you have reduced amounts of lactase, the enzyme needed to digest lactose, the main sugar in milk.
• Consider taking anti-gas products
Beano, a food enzyme, helps improve the digestion of gas-forming foods. Nonprescription medications such as
simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon) or antacids that also have simethicone (such as the anti-gas formulations of Maalox
or Mylanta), may relieve gas.
• Eat fewer fatty foods
Fatty meats, fried foods, cream sauces and gravies tend to increase gas and bloating. And they can contribute to unwanted weight gain.
• Limit sugar substitutes
Many healthy people poorly absorb sorbitol and mannitol contained in some sugar-free foods, candies and gums. The
amount of sorbitol contained in five sticks of sugar-free gum can cause gas and diarrhea in some people.
• Consider products for lactose intolerance, if needed
If you have trouble digesting milk sugar (lactose), this may cause gas. Consider buying lactose-reduced or lactose-free
products. Or consider products with the lactase enzyme (such as Dairy Ease or Lactaid), which can help you digest lactose.