50 Steps in 50 Days: Health and Wellness Tips for A Better You
Often it’s the small steps that bring about big changes, especially when it comes to improving your health and wellness. If you’re ready to develop some healthier habits, these 50 tips (doable in the next 50 days) are a great place to start:
1.) Schedule a wellness check – and stick to it. Find a family doctor or OB/GYN.
2.) Have an eye exam. While you’re having your vision checked, ask the doctor about screenings for glaucoma and other eye diseases. Find an opthamologist.
3.) Challenge yourself to eat at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal, every day for a week. Then try it again the next week.
4.) Spend one entire day on you. Sleep in, have lunch with a friend, call your mom, or watch a favorite movie.
5.) Schedule a dental exam or cleaning – and stick to it.
6.) Challenge yourself to drink at least two glasses of water each day.
7.) Give up soft drinks – and opt for a healthier beverage option – at least one day a week.
8.) Go an entire week without eating fast food. See if you can do it again the next week.
9.) Join an adult sports team or start a regular activity, like gardening or nature walking, that requires you to get moving
10.) Take a group fitness class – Zumba, Indoor Cycling, and Cardio Dance are just a few good options to choose from.
11.) Update your important medical documents– living wills, advance directives, healthcare records.
12.) Try something new: Teach Sunday School, join a book club, sign up to volunteer, take a class.
13.) Opt out of something that’s bringing you down: A negative relationship, an optional activity that no longer provides any benefit, a tedious household chore that can be postponed, holding yet another over-the-top birthday party for your child.
14.) Ask your doctor about recommended vaccines – and then be sure to get them.
15.) Pack a nutritious lunch to bring to work every single day for a week. Then try it again another week.
16.) Go for a brisk 20-minute walk every day for one week. Then try it again the next week.
17.) Call or text a friend or relative you haven’t seen in a while and make a plan to get together.
18.) Challenge yourself to go to bed at the same time every night for a week, at an hour that allows you to get adequate rest. Then try it again the next week.
19.) Ask your doctor about recommended screenings: Mammograms, prostate checks, colonoscopies, skin cancer screenings, and others.
20.) Make a list of your current medications and store it with your medical documents. Be sure to note the dosage and strength (the amount you take and how often you take it).
21.) Take a CPR or First Aid class.
22.) Take inventory of your health insurance products. Review your plans and make sure that your ID card is up to date.
23.) Make regular time to laugh. Find a new TV comedy and set your DVR, or beef up your collection of favorite funny movies.
24.) Ask your doctor about cholesterol and blood pressure screenings.
25.) If you work in an office, get up every 90 minutes and stretch, then take a brisk walk around the building.
26.) Ditch your devices at least one hour before bedtime – put your phone and tablet in the other room. If you need help winding down, listen to soothing music or read a favorite book instead.
27.) Set a quit date to stop smoking – and stick to it.
28.) If you’re not already doing it, start brushing and flossing your teeth every night before bed.
29.) Develop at least one new stress-buster. Instead of a bowl of ice cream or alcoholic drinks, treat yourself to a bowl of tasty, exotic fruit, take a long walk some place pretty, or enjoy an afternoon out with your spouse or best friend.
30.) Get a handle on your family medical history. Call a parent or other family member and ask about chronic illnesses and causes of death for parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles on all sides of your family tree.
31.) Dealing with a chronic illness or recovery? Join a support group and get wisdom, understanding and advice from others dealing with the same challenges.
32.) Know your risks for common health conditions. Take an online risk test and then discuss the results with your doctor.
33.) Take stock of your refrigerator and pantry. In addition to throwing out (or donating) everything that’s past due or older than six months, challenge yourself to throw out all items that are less than nutritious. Replace every non-healthy item you discarded with something new, fresh, and heart healthy.
34.) Buy a set of hand weights. Start using them while you’re watching TV, helping kids with homework, or waiting for food to cook.
35.) Invest in a good pair of supportive walking shoes.
36.) Check your sunscreen for expiration dates. Throw out and re-purchase if you need to.
37.) Wash your hands regularly, using plenty of soap and warm water. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice to make sure you’re doing it long enough.
38.) Work on your posture when sitting down. Sitting up straight can prevent back problems and reduce back pain.
39.) Become a savvy food label reader.
40.) Challenge yourself to get up 30 minutes earlier every day for a week. Use the extra time to take a walk, read something inspirational, pack a healthy snack for work, or just get ready at a less stressful pace.
41.) Put the power of health apps to work for you. Download calorie guides, recipe ideas, carb counters, or apps that help you track your activity and exercise.
42.) Set aside time each weekend for food shopping – and to prep some nutritious food items. You can pre-chop vegetables for salads and side dishes, package up healthy lunches, slice up fruit for snacks. Planning ahead will help you avoid making “convenient” but less healthy choices during the week when time is short.
43.) Invest in a crock pot. It’s another way to prepare healthy meals without spending a lot of time. You can toss in your ingredients and let a yummy stew or soup simmer while you squeeze in a quick workout or take care of household chores.
44.) Start parking as far away as you can from your office, kids’ school, the grocery store, etc. You’ll be amazed at how much extra activity you can sneak in during the course of just one month with all of those extra steps.
45.) Break up with the elevator. Taking the stairs whenever possible is another great way to work in a mini-workout without taking time out of your schedule.
46.) Get organized, one week at a time. Pick out just one area each week that you’re going to tackle – like a junk drawer, the bathroom cabinet, or your locker at work. In 12 weeks you will have de-cluttered and organized 12 areas of your life, and the corresponding stress relief this brings is good for your health.
47.) Change up your workout routine for two weeks. If you always walk a certain route, try another one even if you have to drive a bit to get there. If you take Zumba classes each week, try Pilates or Indoor Cycling instead.
48.) Change your air filters, at home and in your car. Doing so will reduce the amount of dust, dirt, and allergens you’re breathing in.
49.) Take an inventory of your cosmetics. Products like mascara, loofah sponges, foundation and lip gloss should be discarded every three to six months.
50.) Set a bold health or wellness goal for next year. It can be anything from “take a vacation” to “run a half marathon” to “hike a state park” to “read a bucket list of great books”. Once you set your goal, create a realistic plan about how you’ll go about achieving it and then get to work.
You can get more health and wellness tips – plus a wonderful place to work out – when you become a member of the Guadalupe Regional Wellness Center. Find out more.
By Kristen Domonell |
These little things can help prevent falls, improve memory, and promote sleep.
You already know the big things you should be doing to improve your health: exercise regularly, prepare healthy meals, sleep at least seven hours a day. But you don’t have to overhaul your life to see healthy gains. In fact, you can be healthier 60 seconds from now. Try these simple tips to help prevent falls, improve memory, promote sleep, and more.
Drink a Glass of Juice
Polyphenols, which are naturally occurring compounds found in fruit and vegetable juices, are thought to be powerful antioxidants. In one study, researchers compared the records of nearly 2,000 people whose health was tracked for eight to 10 years. They found that those who consumed three or more servings of juice per week had a 76 percent lower rate of developing
Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank juice less than once per week.
Just be sure to read labels and stick to 100 percent fruit juice. Many juices contain
added sugars, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and unhealthy weight gain.
Roll Your Ankles
Improving ankle mobility is an easy way to boost balance and reduce your risk of falling. Stiff ankles are a problem for two big reasons. First, your ankles must be able to move while you’re walking on unstable ground. If you walk over a crack in the sidewalk and your ankle is stiff or locked, it may cause you to tilt to one side and fall. Second, ankles are constantly giving feedback to the brain about
how you’re walking and what muscles to switch on, like those in your hips and thighs. The more your ankle moves, the more information it gives.
Simply rolling your ankles is a great way to increase mobility. Roll both ankles in a full circle as far you can for 15 to 20 seconds, then switch and go the other direction for another 15 to 20 seconds. Next, stand and practice going up onto your toes and down again for 20 to 30 seconds. If you’re unsteady, hold onto a chair or the wall to make it easier.
Watch a Funny Video
Visit YouTube, and type in “
funny cat videos.” (We’ll wait…) Humor and laughter can improve short-term memory, research suggests. In a study published in Advances in Mind/Body Medicine, older adults who watched a funny video before a learning ability test had significant improvements in short-term memory compared to those who just sat silently.
Laughter may also help improve your immunity and strengthen your social bonds.
Eat an Orange
There may not be a fountain of youth, but the
foods you eat may come pretty close. When researchers analyzed the diets of 4,025 women between the ages of 40 and 74, they found those whose diet was rich in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles than those less inclined to snack on citrus.
Not a fan of oranges? Get your daily recommended dose of 75 mg of vitamin C with these foods: fresh strawberries (89 mg per cup), Brussels sprouts (71 mg per cup), raw broccoli (81 mg per cup), or sliced mango (60 mg per cup).
Recall a Happy Memory
Nostalgia isn’t all bad. Research has found that reflecting on your past can improve your self-esteem and outlook on the future. And recalling happy memories might help alleviate symptoms of
depression, according to a 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. So go ahead and take a walk down memory lane!
Got more time? Make plans to get together with your adult children so you can share some great stories from your past. You’ll boost your mood and pass on
important family history at the same time.
Open Your Blinds
The light you’re exposed to today could affect how you sleep tonight. People exposed to sunlight or bright indoor light during the morning hours get better quality sleep and are less likely to feel stressed than those who don’t, according to a recent study. So head over to the window to soak up some sunlight shortly after you wake up.
9 Best Types of Exercise for Older Adults
By Aleisha K. Fetters
Stay strong, be safe, and maintain your independence by integrating these top fitness options into your training plan.
No matter your age, the best exercise for you is the one you enjoy the most. After all, if you don’t like your workout, how long are you going to stick with it?
Still, when sampling any of the countless forms of exercise out there, it’s important to keep in mind exactly what you want and
need to get out of your workout. And that’s bound to change throughout the years, says Barbara Bergin, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon in Austin. She explains that, for older adults, the number-one priority must be maintaining your quality of life outside the gym.
To do that, focus on workouts designed to help you build strength, stay mobile, and improve balance and stability. Also key is considering the requirements of any given fitness option. Are your bones strong enough for high-impact exercises such as running and jumping? Is your balance where it needs to be for fall-free bike rides? How much time to do you realistically have to spend at the gym?
Below, experts share the best types of exercise for older adults. As always, it’s smart to check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness program, especially if you have a health condition. The good news: Assuming your doctor hasn’t said a type of exercise is off-limits, choose whatever you like—they’re all terrific.
There’s a reason swimming is called the
world’s perfect exercise. Whether you’re performing the breaststroke, taking a water aerobics class, or playing Marco Polo with the grandkids, getting in the pool is a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness while also strengthening your muscles, says Victoria Shin, M.D., a cardiologist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in California.
It does all this while putting minimal stress on your bones and joints, which is a major plus for men and women who have arthritis or osteoporosis. As if that isn’t enough reason to jump in, a 2012 study published in the
Journal of Aging Research suggests that swimming can help older adults keep their minds as sharp as their bodies.
Not a swimmer? You can still benefit from water exercise, such as
SilverSneakers Splash. If you’re a confident swimmer, you can swim on your own. And when the weather is nice, take advantage by moving your swim sessions outdoors. Research consistently links time in nature with improved mental and physical health.
With a holistic approach to fitness, yoga helps build muscle strength, aerobic fitness, balance, core stability, mobility, and flexibility—all of which are important for older adults, says David Kruse, M.D., a sports medicine specialist at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange, California.
And while yoga is low-impact and gentle on your body’s joints, it’s still weight-bearing, meaning that you have to support your body’s weight with every posture. That’s vital to strengthening not just your muscles, but also your bones.
If you are new to yoga, look for an introductory class that will teach you the basics.
SilverSneakers Yoga is made for older adults. Restorative, hatha, and Iyengar classes are also great options. Talk to your class instructor about any physical limitations before getting started.
Like yoga, Pilates is known for being a low-impact strength program, but its focus on core strength and stability makes it especially great for older adults, Dr. Shin says. One 2014 analysis published in the
European Review of Aging and Physical Activity concluded that Pilates participation improves balance in older adults.
Most gyms offer Pilates classes designed for first-timers, which is especially important for those exercisers interested in classes that rely on the “reformer,” an exercise machine that uses springs, bars, and straps for resistance.
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One out of every three older adults experiences severe muscle loss, according to an analysis published in
Age and Ageing. Meanwhile, when it comes to fighting age-related abdominal fat—a marker for overall health—Harvard research shows that strength training is more time-efficient compared to cardiovascular exercise.
Fortunately, you don’t have to bench press your bodyweight to keep your muscles healthy and prevent fat gain over the years, says Dr. Shin. In fact, she notes, for most older adults, it’s far safer to start small. Simple bodyweight exercises such as chair squats, single-leg stands, wall pushups, and stair climbing will do a great job at keeping your body strong and ready to tackle everyday activities.
everything you need to know about strength training. Ready to try? Start with the chair squat.
Your gym undoubtedly has an array of resistance bands ready for use, but these inexpensive and beginner-friendly exercise tools are perfect for at-home workouts as well, Dr. Shin says.
In addition, bands can help you challenge your muscles in ways you might not be able to with equipment-free training. For instance, when it comes to strengthening your back (important for good, strong posture), rows and other pulling motions are vital—but hard to do if you don’t have any exercise equipment on hand.
Check out this
beginner’s guide to resistance bands.
Even if you can’t find the time to perform a structured workout, you likely have time to put one foot in front of the other to get where you need to go, says Dr. Shin, who recommends most people take 10,000 steps per day, even on days they don’t “work out.” Research published in
PLOS One found that people who increased their activity levels to 10,000 steps per day were 46 percent less likely to die in the following 10 years compared to those who stayed sedentary.
For some older adults or people with a chronic condition, 10,000 may not be the right exact number. But the fact remains: Walking is a great, free workout that can have a big impact on your health.
Easy ways to increase your step count include parking farther from the supermarket door, playing with your grandkids, taking the long route wherever you need to go, and even walking your dog. Check out
these tips and the video below for awesome ways to mix up your walking workout.
Another low-impact form of exercise, cycling is ideal for those who want to increase their leg strength, but can’t run or engage in other high-impact sports due to osteoporosis or joint issues, Dr. Shin says. A 2017 analysis published in the
European Review of Aging and Physical Activity found that cycling also helps improve cardiovascular health, metabolic health, function, and cognitive performance in adults older than 70.
If you have cycling trails near your home, consider scheduling regular bike rides with family or friends. Indoor cycling classes are another great option for those without access to trails or when weather conditions aren’t ideal. Plus, with a
stationary bike, you don’t have to worry about falls or needing to wear a helmet.
Need inspiration? Meet the 72-year-old retired teacher who recently
rode her bike across the country.
Strength and Aerobic Classes
If you attend
SilverSneakers classes, you already know that group exercise isn’t just a fantastic way break a sweat. You’ll also have tons of fun and make new friends along the way, both of which are hugely important when it comes to making exercise a habit. In fact, 2017 research published in BMC Public Health notes that the social aspect of group exercise programs increases activity levels in older adults over the long term.
There is no end to the list of group exercises out there, from
SilverSneakers Classic to Zumba to boot camp. If you’re nervous about jumping into a new group, ask a friend to sign up with you.
If you’re looking for more attention and instruction than group classes provide, working with a personal trainer is a great path to fitness and fun. Many offer one-on-one and small-group sessions, the latter in which you and one to three of your friends perform the same workout with the trainer. Make it easier on your wallet by using one-on-one sessions to help you get started with a program you can continue on your own or going the small-group route.
No matter which option you choose, the trainer will help you master proper form and build a solid base of exercise knowledge that you can carry with you for years to come. In addition, your workouts will likely blend elements from all of the above forms of exercise.
When choosing a trainer, make sure he or she is certified through a governing body like the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association, or the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Bonus points if they have a history of training older