Make Small Changes for Big Health Results

Simple ways to lose weight and boost your health.
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Remember to Put on Sunscreen

A New York dermatologist tells patients to pick up their sunscreen as soon as they put down their toothbrush in the morning. For daily wear, you want at least an SPF 15. The skin repairs itself every day, and by using sunscreen, you are preventing future damage and mutations that lead to skin cancer.
Photo by Greg Scheidemann

Downsize Your Dishes

Replace your oversize dinner plates with smaller salad plates and you could cut one-third of the calories in each meal. Instead of pouring juice into a 20-ounce glass, use an 8-ounce cup so you drink the right amount. And those gigantic wine glasses hold about 12 ounces, which is twice a normal serving.

Work In Strength Training

Women in their 40s have 10 pounds less muscle mass than they had in their 20s. And by their 50s, they’re down 15 pounds in muscle mass. Spend 20 minutes twice a week doing some form of strength-training. If hitting the gym isn’t your thing, then carry your groceries in from the car, stack wood for your fireplace, or rake leaves. Or combine it with cardio: sports like swimming, rock climbing, and canoeing have more muscle-building benefits than others. When you add muscle, it helps burn more calories and enables you to perform every activity better.

Cook With Herbs

Add herbs instead of salt, butter or cheese. They make food more flavorful, without adding extra calories or fat.

Read Pill Labels

High blood pressure is so unsexy. Ideally, you want your systolic number to be less than 120. You can get there with regular exercise and a healthy, high-fiber diet that’s low in salt and saturated fat. Also, avoid medications that raise blood pressure, such as birth control pills, anti-inflammatory drugs, cold medicines, and antidepressants. Consult your doctor for safer substitutes.

Om Away Hot Flashes

Bothered by hot flashes and mood swings? Try a yoga class, suggests a new report in the journal Menopause. In the study, 120 women ages 40 to 55 followed either a yoga routine or a stretching and strengthening program for an hour at a time, five days a week, for eight weeks. The yogis ended up experiencing fewer hot flashes and mood problems than the exercisers. And while both groups of women improved on tests of attention and concentration, the yoga group fared better.

Intensify Workouts

Rev up your intensity. If you already walk, add some hills and some speed. Crank up the resistance on the bike or the elliptical trainer. Do not be afraid to sweat.
Photo by Greg Ryan

Count Butter Pats

Look at foods as representing a certain number of pats of butter: A glass of wine is two, a tablespoon of salad dressing is three, and so on.
Photo by Mike Dieter

Use It or Lose It

Just as the rest of the muscles in your body stay stronger with regular exercise, so does your vagina. Having sex exercises your pelvic floor muscles and stimulates lubrication by keeping blood vessels dilated. If you don’t have a partner, do it yourself.
Photo by John Noltner

Work on Your Core At Your Desk

Keep your core busy. Sit and stand tall, and you’ll never need to do sit-ups. Holding in your middle takes strength.
Photo by Jmes Carriere

Start Cooking

Restaurants often use tons of butter and other unhealthy ingredients. When you make your own meals, you know what’s going into them and can use healthy ingredients.
Photo by Werner Straube

Don’t Neglect Your Neck

The neck ages more quickly than the face because it has fewer muscles to support the overlying skin. Sun damage also accelerates sagging. Use moisturizer and sunscreen daily. When used regularly, they can really make a difference.
Photo by Werner Straube

Indulge in Vino

Chill and drink a glass of wine. Observational studies show that women who have one alcoholic beverage are less likely to experience heart trouble. So enjoy a glass of wine at night and relax.
Photo by Reed Davis

Ban the TV for Better Z’s.

Don’t leave the TV on at bedtime. Both light and sound disrupt sleep rhythms, and a TV produces both. The sound will keep your brain activated, and the light can trick the brain into thinking it’s time to wake up.
Photo by King Au

Go Commando

Going panty-less decreases your risk for vaginal infections (which are more common in midlife, thanks to hormonal changes) and keeps you in touch with your body. If you’re unsure or skittish about going "commando," try it at home first.
Photo by Greg Scheidemann

Lower Cholesterol with Whole Grains

Soluble fiber helps lower cholesterol. Introduce more brown rice, barley, rye, wheat and oats into your diet.
Photo by Scott Little

Eat Yogurt to Banish Bloating.

About 40 percent of us have intestinal or stomach problems such as bloating or gas. And it’s mostly because of diet: We eat too many processed foods and not enough fruits and vegetables. Probiotics are healthy gut organisms found in yogurt that can help to combat stomach problems.

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Photo by Blaine Moats

First Published Wed, 2010-06-09 12:09

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