Improving your health and well being need not involve massive lifestyle changes as these easy tips for substantial results prove.
Sometimes it feels as if we’re being bombarded with health advice. But actually following the often substantial lifestyle changes suggested can be more of a deterrent than an incentive. However, there are some very simple measures you can take to boost both your physical and psychological well being.
1: Chew food 40 times to lose weight
Forget the latest dieting fad. One of the simplest ways to shed excess weight may be to eat more slowly. Researchers at Harbin Medical University in China found that munching on each mouthful for longer significantly reduced the amount of calories consumed during a meal.
Volunteers who chewed each mouthful 40 times ate 12% less food than those who chewed just 15 times. Chewing for longer prevents overeating by giving the brain more time to receive signals from the stomach that it is full. It also appears to lower levels of ghrelin, the ‘hunger hormone’, circulating in the digestive system.
2: Drop 11 lbs to save your knees
Obesity has led to an epidemic of osteoarthritis in the UK. Knee joints crumble as the weight piles on. But you don’t have to lose vast amounts to protect against the condition. Research shows that shedding just 11 lbs of excess body fat can more than halve the risk of osteoarthritis.
3: Sniff fruit to choose healthier foods
It may look odd to your fellow diners, but sniffing a piece of fruit before a meal could keep you healthy. Psychologists at the University of Bourgogne in France found it makes the brain more likely to take the healthy option, especially when it comes to dessert. They took 115 people and put half in a room sprayed with the smell of fresh pears and half in an unsprayed room.
After 15 minutes, they offered them a buffet of healthy foods and fatty snacks. Three out of four participants who didn’t smell the fruit plumped for unhealthy options compared with less than half the ‘pear’ group.
4: Breathe deeply to lower blood pressure
Deep breathing can be a highly effective way of reducing high blood pressure . It works by keeping blood vessels open, which lowers the pressure exerted on blood vessel walls. Similar benefits can be achieved with Resperate, a £100 device that uses musical notes to gradually slow your breathing rate.
5: Dance to get over a heart attack
If you’ve had a heart attack , learning to waltz could aid recovery. Research suggests it has the ideal tempo to help regain cardiac function. A study at the Lancisi Heart Institute in Ancona, Italy, involved a five-minute slow waltz, followed by a three-minute fast one, for a total of 21 minutes a time. After dancing twice a week for eight weeks, patients showed significant improvements in heart rate, oxygen uptake and quality of life.
6: Gardening can improve his libido
Research at the Medical University of Vienna found that regular gentle exercise, such as weeding, digging and mowing, can revitalise a man’s flagging sex drive . Just 30 minutes of gardening five days a week reduced the risk of impotence by around 38%. Men who exercise even more than this can more than halve their risk of being a flop in the bedroom.
7: Take ‘email holidays’ to beat stress
Feeling stressed? Then treat yourself to what some psychologists call an ‘email holiday’. It’s not just good for the mind, but could reduce the effect of constant stress on the heart. Scientists at the University of California attached heart-rate monitors to office workers and found they remained in a state of ‘high alert’ throughout the day if they had constant access to email.
But those told they had their manager’s permission to not check their messages for up to five days at a time had much healthier heart rates.
8: Walk for two minutes to beat diabetes
Forget marathons or triathlons, research suggests a two-minute walk every half hour could slash the risk of diabetes in millions of office workers. In fact, a study at the University of Otago in New Zealand found it was better than a brisk 30-minute stroll before clocking on.
Volunteers who regularly walked for just one minute and 40 seconds had lower blood sugar and insulin levels, suggesting they were less likely to get Type 2 diabetes . According to Diabetes UK, at the current rate of increase, the numbers affected by the disease will rise from around 2.5million currently to four million by 2025.
Want to live a long life? Believe it or not, smiling could help. US research shows that the broader your grin and the deeper the creases around your eyes when you smile, the longer you are likely to live.
Experts at Wayne State University, Michigan, studied 230 pictures of major league players in the 1952 Baseball Register, and ranked them according to whether they had no smile at all, a partial smile or a full-blown toothy grin.
Those in the ‘no smile’ category lived an average of 72.9 years, the ‘partial smiles’ group averaged 75 and those with the biggest grins lived on average until 79.9.
10: Fortnight’s veg improves asthma
According to research from the John Hunter Hospital in New South Wales, Australia, just two weeks on a diet rich in vegetables is enough to have a significant effect on asthma patients.
Scientists measured forced expiratory volume – a test to see how much air the lungs can expel in one second – and found that within a fortnight those on a healthy diet were performing much better than patients who had little or no fruit or vegetables.