Back to school, Labor day: is it time to make lists and get organized? Here are ten suggestions from the August issue of Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter. Next week I’ll report on Dr Oz’s 10 simple habits that could help you live to 100.
1. Combining moderate regular exercise and mentally stimulating activities can help protect your memory as you age, according to a Mayo Clinic study.
2. Raisins, a handful eaten 3 times a day, can reduce blood pressure significantly in mildly hypertensive people according to study from the Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerosis Research Center. This may be because raisins are high in potassium, and also in fiber and healthful anti-oxidants. There are opposing views on whether raisins promote or prevent tooth decay, so keep flossing.
3. Your waist to hip ratio can predict you risk of sudden cardiac death. Best measurements are under 0.82 for women and 0.92 for men. Use a tape measure.
4. Regular jogging, at a slow to average pace, increases longevity, according to the Copenhagen City Heart Study. (Be sure to check with your doctor before starting to jog, if you don’t do so currently).
5. Fiber may help to protect against heart disease and stroke, according to a Swedish study.
6.Switching from white rice to brown rice could reduce your risk of diabetes, according to a Harvard study. This is especially important for Asians if they eat a lot of white rice.
7. Skip sugar sweetened beverages to reduce your risk of heart attack, according to the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals study. No increased risk was found for diet sodas.
8. Eating a Mediterranean diet, already linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases, leads to a better health-related quality of life, according to Spanish research. This diet is high in vegetables, fruit, fish or poultry, whole grains, nuts and olive oil, with small amounts of low fat milk as yogurt. There is new evidence that olive oil may strengthen bones. The diet avoids red meat and dairy fat. Get a book on this way of eating – The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Marion Nestle is a winner.
9. Low-fat dairy may lead to fewer strokes, according to a Swedish Study.
10. Any physical activity: formal exercise, gardening, housework and walking may lower the risk of Alzheimers’s disease, according to a study of older adults at Rush University.
These studies in the Tufts newsletter are a good reminder of what you already know about healthy living.
Here are my additional suggestions for people who watch television, home movies and sit at a desk for work. Invest in a minicycle or pedal exerciser. These small devices use no electricity and can fit under your desk or in a corner for storage. They keep your legs moving with mild but continuous exercise while you sit. On a table, they are also used to exercise the arms and shoulders. The Sunny health and fitness minicycle is about $57 and is available from Amazon and Overstock. You can also look at the Carex Pedal exerciser (lighter and about $45) and the Pedlar Pro #316 (about $34). Alternatively, consider a standing desk. Prolonged sitting (at work, in the car, watching TV) is not good for the metabolism. Several recent studies show that prolonged sitting increases mortality. You may be able to raise your desk on a sturdy brick pile until the desk-top is at elbow height, but if it is not stable, make or buy a standing desk. It takes a few tries to get used to a standing desk, but it is worth the effort in terms of leg strength and endurance. Finally, you can invest in a trek desk, which enables you to walk slowly on a treadmill while working on the computer, reading or thinking. There are manual treadmills that do not require electricity.
There’s a famous t-shirt that says “If it’s physical, it’s therapy.”
Sadja Greenwood MD, MPH back issues on this blog
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