"Quit Smoking. Lose weight. Get more exercise. These are popular New Year's resolutions, but they are undoubtedly a chore. A third of resolutions, however well motivated, are broken within a week.
If better health is your aim, there are many other simple, less obvious things you can do without a great deal of effort. Here are a few recommended by physicians at Rush University Medical Center.
Have fun to help de-stress. Experts recommend regular exercise, meditation and breathing techniques to reduce stress, but even something as simple as listening to soothing music, reading a good book, soaking in a hot tub or playing with your pet can help you relax. "Spending just 30 minutes a day doing something you enjoy can go a long way toward beating the stressors of everyday life," says cardiologist Dr. Annabelle Volgman, director of the Rush Heart Center for Women. That's advice you should take to heart because prolonged stress can cause or exacerbate a number of health problems some serious including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, depression, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines and obesity.
Practice good oral hygiene. Spend a minimum of two minutes to brush your teeth twice a day and don't forget the dental floss. Daily flossing and brushing of teeth not only help prevent cavities but may keep other diseases at bay as well. Experts suspect that bacteria-producing dental plaque, which leads to gum inflammation, can result in or exacerbate heart disease. Although the exact mechanism of why this occurs is not clear, a connection has also been found between poor periodontal health and stroke, diabetes, premature births and low birth weights. "It's also a good idea to take a three-hour break between eating foods that contain sugar," says Dr. Joel Augustin, a family medicine physician at Rush.
Do a crossword puzzle. Researchers at Rush have found that mentally challenging activities, such as reading and playing chess, may have a protective effect on your brain. "Regularly engaging your mind may help lower your risk for the dementia associated with Alzheimer's disease," Dr. Augustin says.
A little red wine is fine. Recent studies have shown that the powerful antioxidants found in red wine protect against heart disease, colon cancer, anxiety and depression. So unless there is a medical reason why you shouldn't imbibe, go ahead and enjoy that glass of merlot with your nightly meal you can even toast to your good health." (Continued via Medical News Today) [Ergonomics Resources]