15 Healthy Habits for Today, This Week and This Month
Good music every day. Making time for good friends every month. Get hooked on a few simple-sounding but always powerful new routines.
Today: Rejuvenate Your Mornings (in Just 7 to 10 Minutes)
Dr. Oz started practicing yoga when he was in medical school.He was also working in a high-traffic clinic, and discovered that a daily practice helped him cope with stress. "Yoga helps clean blood of waste material (through lymphatic stimulation), and trains us to loosen muscles and joints that are ignored in our day-to-day lives," Dr. Oz says. He still kick-starts every day with a seven-minute sun salutation. "Routines like sun salutation get the blood flowing as we warm up and free our body to experience the new stresses we will face. ...For people like me, meditation proves difficult because our mind wonders. But if we can concentrate on the tension in our hips as we empty our mind, then we are well on the way."
Keep Reading: Dr. Oz's seven-minute morning yoga routine
Spend More Time on Your Teeth
Even if you already spend too much time in the bathroom, you've got to make sure you get in about two minutes of brush and floss time. Gingivitis and periodontal disease cause inflammation in your body and aging of your immune and arterial systems. Daily flossing and brushing not only remove the unsightly broccoli florets stuck in your teeth, but they reduce the risk to your heart as well. Also, get a professional cleaning every six months to have your gums checked and protected.
Keep Reading: More ways to reduce health risk to your heart
Break Your Daily Soda Habit
Dr. David Katz says that a cup of tea can infuse you with antioxidants instead of the wallop of sugar you get in a can of soda. Green, black and especially white—drink it hot or iced: all offer the powerful nutrients and a boost of caffeine. Dr. Katz says that if diet soda (better) is your vice, opt for water (best) as your thirst quencher of choice. There is no better beverage than water to help you stay hydrated, which is important in keeping body systems running well. Diet soda quenches thirst, but some experts still worry that its artificial sweeteners may be linked to cancer. Dr. Katz's main concern with them is that they propagate a sweet tooth, which leads to more sugar intake and the overall deterioration of the diet.
Keep Reading: 10 easy food switches
Make the Most of Your Commute—with Music
On your commute home, don't read or listen to the news, but opt for listening to your favorite tunes instead. Oliver Sacks, MD, the noted neurologist and author, says that research suggests that the simple act of singing can be good medicine—especially as we age. Research has shown that improvements of mood, behavior, even cognitive function once created by music can sometimes persist for hours or even days.
Keep Reading: The bond between music and our brains
Add More Flavor to Your Food
Your spice rack is full of beneficial, anti-aging powers. The every day superstars? Dr. Oz says research shows that cinnamon can decrease blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol, especially in people with type 2 diabetes. Paprika and cayenne pepper can help fight high blood pressure and improve circulation. In lab studies, he says, eating rosemary has been shown to improve learning rates in rats—data that has been reproduced in humans. Even ginger can decrease blood pressure, alleviate arthritis pain and reduce your risk of cancer.
Keep Reading: Dr. Oz's Ultimate Anti-Aging Checklist
Create a Nighttime Ritual for Better Sleep
It's your greatest energy source—and most of us are deprived. Firstly, prepare your room for your body's rest. Dim your lights several hours if possible to avoid artificial light pollution—TV, computer, etc—the less stimuli the better. Decide when you want to wake up and count backward about seven hours. Now take about a 15-minute period before that to start your slowdown process. That means taking five minutes to finish up must-do chores, followed by five minutes of hygiene stuff (flossing,washing your face and so on) and five minutes of relaxing into your sleep state through things like meditation.
Keep Reading: How to sleep better and have more energy
This Week: Shop Smarter at the Grocery Store
Dr. Katz says we could all improve our health on a weekly basis if we remember a few key strategies when we shop for food. Firstly, never trust the packaging. "Just because it says 'reduced fat' or 'smart choice' doesn't mean it's good for you," he says. Also, make sure to scan the ingredients. The first few listed are the most abundant, so steer clear of partially hydrogenated oils to avoid an increase in heart disease, stroke and diabetes risk. Try to stick to 3 grams of fat per serving (or per 100 calories). And fiber is your fulfilling friend. For any type of carbohydrate, you want to see at least 2 grams of fiber per serving, and ideally 3 or more.
Keep Reading: How to read food labels
Eat Healthy Fish
Fish—especially fatty fish like salmon, and white fish like cod and bass—is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have several powerful benefits. They appear to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood (high levels cause plaque buildup in the arteries), stabilize the heartbeat (reducing irregular rhythms), make platelets less sticky (reducing clotting) and may bring down blood pressure as well. Some studies have suggested that eating fish once a week cuts your risk of a heart attack in half. The best fish are those with the least mercury and PCBs. Look for wild, line-caught salmon (almost all canned salmon is wild salmon) mahi mahi, catfish, flounder or sole, tilapia and whitefish.
Keep Reading: 14 ways to ensure your heart will go on
Have More Sex
According to a Duke University study, if you have more than 200 orgasms a year (that's 2 to 3 times a week), you can reduce your physiological age by six years. Among the benefits of having sex often, Dr. Oz says, is that it can prove that your body is functioning as it is supposed to. "But in addition, having sex with someone that you care for deeply is one of the ways we achieve that Zen experience that we all crave as human beings," Dr. Oz says. "It's really a spiritual event for folks when they're with someone they love and they can consummate it with sexual activity ...seems to offer some survival benefit."
Keep Reading: 12 simple ways to have better sex tonight
Watch Out for Weekends Too
We can stick to a routine during the week, but on weekends, it's easy let loose. Make a plan for your weekend eating, starting with Friday night. What are you going to eat for meals? What are you going to snack on? How will you make healthy choices at a restaurant or dinner party? If you maintain healthy habits over the weekend, you won't spend the beginning of your week making up for bad choices.
Keep Reading: How to break bad eating habits
This Month: Schedule Your Doctor Appointments
"The best way to reduce stress is advance planning," says Alice Domar, PhD, co-author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect
and executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health. The experts of LLuminari,
a group of doctors, researchers and women's health advocates, recommend very specific appointments for optimal preventive care based on your age. If you have a medical condition or a family history of certain diseases, talk to your doctor about what's right for you.
Keep Reading: 11 doctor's appointments to make right now
Post-workout stretching is critical to ensure healthy joints and muscles. Writer Carol Mithers attempted to do all the basics that require taking better care of yourself: consistently eat right, get enough sleep, exercise, floss, etc. Although challenging, she found some major payoffs by week three. "My exercise routine was getting easier (and if the music was particularly raucous, even enjoyable). Just 10 minutes of stretching afterward was loosening me up dramatically; in the car one afternoon, I looked over my shoulder to change lanes, and my neck didn't hurt. What I'd thought was arthritis and something I had to accept as part of getting older had simply been unstretched muscles."
Keep Reading: A month of living perfectly
Enjoy Your Friends
Socializing releases oxytocin, a chemical that can help combat stress hormones and lower your blood pressure. Whether it's spending time with dog lovers, book club buddies or siblings—whatever group you like—just knowing you're not alone can go a long way toward coping with stress.
Keep Reading: Dr. Oz's 7 ways to reduce stress
Boost Your Mood with Home Improvement
Do you smile when you walk in the door? Research shows that factors like light, space and room layout affect physical and psychological well-being, and is creating a buzz around this new intersection of art and science. Pick a home project to get those endorphins pumping.
Keep Reading: Do you smile when you walk in the door?
Manage Your Tech Life
Stressed-out from too much sending and replying, writer Katie Goodman did what the rest of us only dream of: She quit email cold turkey for 30 days.
Weeks later, she was a new (and much improved) woman. That said, we know work emails can be inescapable. Martha Beck suggests staying afloat the flood of texts, tweets and emails by first examining every item with two questions: 1) Is this task absolutely necessary to keep my life afloat, and 2) Does this task buoy me up emotionally? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, do the deed. If not, do nothing.
Keep Reading: Martha Beck on staying afloat in a sea of texts, tweets and emails