Boost Your Midlife Brain Health

The human brain naturally shrinks with age, meaning that brain cells do not work quite as effectively as they used to. By the time a person reaches the age of 45, the memory begins to decline, as do other aspects of brain health. However, there are a number of ways in which you can boost a midlife brain to improve its health while giving it some extra protection for the upcoming years.

Man doing puzzle

Brain Exercises
There are many brain games and puzzles out there that are designed to help create new associations between different parts of your brain, which is great for strengthening it and keeping it sharp. You can also try carrying out normal, everyday activities, but using your non-dominant hand. For example, if you are usually right-handed, try using your left hand to do everything from brushing your teeth to hoovering the carpet.

Woman running with dog

Regular Exercise
One of the most effective ways in which you can boost your brain health is by partaking in regular exercise, as this has been proven, for many years, to be able to boost cognitive function. It does this by reducing cell damage and inflammation while increasing the density of brain cells, as well as blood vessels in the brain. When it comes to the different types of exercise out there, aerobic exercise is one of the best, as this can help with the parts of the brain that are associated with organizing, multi-tasking, and planning, while boosting heart health at the same time. Resistance training has been linked to beneficial effects on the memory, as has low-intensity yoga, so try to include these in your exercise routine too.

Control Your Blood Sugar Levels
Not only does high blood sugar levels lead to obesity and diabetes, but this also damages blood vessels in the brain, while impairing the parts of the brain that are responsible for memory. Lowering your blood sugar levels is as simple as making a few lifestyle changes, from practicing regular exercise to eating a diet high in vegetables, fibre and whole grains.

Group of friends

Socializing
Humans are social creatures, and, as studies have shown, socializing is important when it comes to keeping the brain stimulated and sharp. Research has shown that older adults who are less socially active tend to experience more cognitive and physical limitations, so make sure that socializing takes a priority in your life.

Brain-Boosting Foods
While a healthy diet itself is important for your brain, as well as your body, there are certain foods out there that are known for being especially beneficial when it comes to brain health. At the top of the list are foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and walnuts, as these have been linked to improved memory and focus, as well as a lowered risk of dementia.

Your brain is incredibly complex, but boosting its health does not need to be. From physical activity and a healthy diet to brain games and socializing, these tips will help you to keep your mind as sharp as possible while your body continues to age.

Walk More to Keep Your Heart Healthy (and Happy!)

Strengthening your heart is so important, and while many may think that running and other more vigorous forms of exercise are the only way to properly do this, walking is an activity that is just as beneficial. Studies have shown that, when it comes to heart health, walking brings about many of the same advantages as other forms of exercise, and is an activity that just about everybody can easily partake in.

Woman walking on bridge

The Health Benefits of Walking
A brisk walk each and every day will bring your body so many different benefits. Not only does this lower high cholesterol, as well as high blood pressure, but it also cuts down your risk of diabetes. All three of these conditions are risk factors when it comes to heart disease and stroke, meaning that making an improvement in this area will significantly boost the health of your heart. In addition to this, regular walking is able to prevent depression, protect against dementia, and reduce the risk of so many other health issues, from colon cancer to erectile dysfunction to obesity.

How Much Walking to Do Each Day
The American Heart Association recommends that adults need around 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and brisk walking can definitely be a large part of this. If you find 30 minutes quite challenging to begin with, start off with smaller, achievable goals, and built this up slowly as your fitness levels increase. Alternatively, you could split your 30 minutes of exercise a day into two or three sessions, walking for just 10 or 15 minutes each time.

Woman walking along beach

Ways to Incorporate Walking Into Your Life
There are many different ways in which you can incorporate more walking in your life, and the more that you do so, the more enjoyment you will gain from it too. Taking the dog for a walk is a great way to exercise the both of you, as is taking your children to the park every afternoon. If shopping is a passion of yours, spend more time window shopping, making a conscious effort to cover the entire mall in a certain amount of time. When it comes to being at work, simply park your car further away from your workplace than you normally would, so that you have some walking to do to get there, and always take the stairs rather than the elevator. Rather than spending your entire lunch break sat at a table, take some time to walk around outside, as you will also gain so many benefits from the fresh air.

Walking Shoes
If you have decided to make the commitment to start walking more, then a reliable pair of shoes is a must. Many of the major athletic brands out there offer shoes designed specifically for walkers, with everything from a shock absorbent sole to a roomy toe box. Before purchasing a pair, make sure to try on your walking shoes while you are wearing athletic socks, so that you will really know how well they fit.

Physical activity is a must, but if you do not tend to enjoy the more traditional forms of exercise, walking could be perfect for you. Not only will this keep your heart strong, while boosting many other parts of your body, but it is also an activity that is easy to squeeze into your day, no matter how busy you may be.

Best Workouts You Won’t Even Notice You’re Doing

Woman with dog

There is now a continuous influx of new studies that point to the many incredible benefits that regular exercise can bring, ranging from a lower risk of heart disease to a reversal of the aging process. While many may enjoy structured workout routines, these are not for everybody, so here are a few workouts that are guaranteed to get you fit, without you even noticing this happening.

Walking Your Dog 
Your dog needs exercise just as much as you do, so heading off for a long dog walk is a great way to take care of both of you. Being around animals in general also boosts your physical health and mental well-being in so many other ways, so if you are guilty of often letting dog walks slide, now is the time to change that. If you do not own a dog but would still like to enjoy the many benefits that come from spending time with one, there are now many services out there that enable you to borrow someone else’s dog for a few hours, or, alternatively, you could simply find a friend’s dog, or a neighbourhood dog, that would benefit from some extra exercise.

Woman with child

Playing With Your Kids 
Whether you choose chase, hopscotch or jump rope, playing with your children is a great way to boost all of your fitness levels while creating some long-lasting memories. Each of these activities are effective ways to burn calories, and will also teach your children about the importance of exercise from an early age.

Dancing 
Dancing involves moving your body energetically and continuously, both of which are perfect for keeping your heart rate elevated while burning calories. If you are wanting to learn a new skill at the same time, then a dance class would be ideal for you, but the same benefits can be had simply by dancing to some music at home. All you need to do is blast your favorite songs and let the beat move you, which will, when done on a regular basis, strengthen your heart, tone your muscles and improve your balance.

Gardening

Gardening 
Gardening for around 30 minutes a day can burn up to 300 calories, providing that you are actually moving around, digging and planting, rather than just standing still and admiring the view. Gardening would be classed as a moderate level cardiovascular exercise, and its benefits include everything from a healthier immune system to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. If you like the idea of gardening but do not know where to start, begin by sowing some seeds of a food that you love to eat, as the sense of accomplishment that comes from growing your own produce is a great motivator to spend more time in your garden.

Exercise is key when it comes to staying healthy, but this does not mean that you need to develop a structured exercise regime. Instead, by spending half an hour to an hour a day on one of these activities, you will be gaining the benefits of a regular workout without having to feel as though you are actually working out.

Your February Healthy Lifestyle Reboot

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions out there is making the commitment to living a healthier life, but when February rolls around and people realize that they have not made any changes, it can be all-too-easy to simply give up, accepting yet another failed resolution. However, it is never too late to begin making adjustments, so make February the month that you do so.

Whole grain food
Changes to Your Diet
Just about everybody knows that they could be eating healthier, but giving up indulgent treats in favor of healthier alternatives never sounds appealing. The key here is to begin by making really small changes and gradually adding to these, as this will mean that you are far more likely to stick to your goals. A variety of foods is important, as each food has its own unique nutrients, so aim to incorporate a new ingredient into your diet each week. Whole grains are also much better for you than refined, so slowly work on swapping your white rice and white bread for brown versions. Sugar is an ingredient that you should really try to cut out, and this is another area where you are likely to be much more successful if you do this slowly, beginning by setting a limit on how many sugar-filled treats you can eat per week.

Exercise Motivation
Physical activity is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle, but motivating yourself to do some exercise can often be quite difficult, especially in cold winter climates. There are a few ways in which you can motivate yourself, and you are likely to need to try them all before finding which works best for you. Picking rewards for yourself after you have reached certain exercise goals is always a good idea, with the reward depending on how difficult the goal was. You could also set a few goals with some friends, so that you have their support when you are feeling uninspired. Alternatively, try to come up with a few ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable, so that you look forward to it rather than dread it. Learning a new sport could be exactly what you need to engage your mind as well as your body, or signing up for group dance classes will allow you to workout in a fun and laid-back environment.

Woman exercising
Deal With One Bad Habit at a Time
Just about everybody has a bad lifestyle habit that they would want to change, but trying to tackle all of these at once is only setting yourself up for failure. Whether you want to quit smoking and exercise more, or cut back on drinking alcohol, as well as caffeine, prioritize each one and pick the most important to deal with first. This will enable you to focus all of your attention on improving that particular habit, and once you have fully mastered this, you can then move on to the next.

There are always ways in which you can make your lifestyle healthier, but if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with this, then chances are that you are simply trying to do too much too soon. When working on improving your lifestyle, a chain of gradual, small adjustments are always easier to deal with than quick, major changes, so try to set yourself mini goals that you know you will be able to achieve.

Advice From Exercise Icons

There is so much fitness advice floating around out there, but, if you want to make some real progress, you need to pick the right people to take this advice from. These exercise icons, from Jane Fonda to Richard Simmons, all have a great track record behind them when it comes to fitness, so take a look at some of their most useful words of wisdom.

Woman working out
Jane Fonda
With 22 different workout videos produced, all of which have sold over 17 million copies, Jane Fonda is, without a doubt, legendary when it comes to exercising. In terms of fitness advice, Fonda has plenty to offer, with one of her top tips being that one needs to work out at least three times a week, on alternative days, for at least 30 minutes at a time, at least if you want your exercise to be effective. Your workout should also contain three different types of exercises, including stretching, resistance and aerobic exercises, the latter of which is the only type of activity that is able to remove the marbled fat that lies deep within muscles.

Richard Simmons
Richard Simmons rose to fame in the 80’s, and while many expected him to fall into obscurity as the years progressed, Simmons is still making frequent appearances on television, and is an extremely successful fitness instructor. When it comes to his top piece of advice, Simmons stresses the huge importance that he places on setting rules for every part of his life, from eating to exercising. Simmons believes that not only is it important to workout every single day, but you must also always follow clean eating habits, and ensure that these rules are sacred to you.

Woman taking exercise class
Denise Austin
Dubbed as “America’s Favorite Fitness Expert”, Denise Austin is full of advice when it comes to exercising and keeping healthy. Austin believes that it is extremely important to keep your workouts fun and enjoyable, which is why you should frequently mix them up, seeking out new classes, techniques and routines whenever you can. Austin also places huge importance on strength and weight training, believing that the best way to keep your body looking and feeling youthful is to build muscle tone. Austin herself works out every day for at least 30 minutes, and usually does this first thing in the mornings. On the weekends, workouts take a more unstructured form, and can include everything from tennis with her husband to walking with friends.

Kathy Smith
Not only has Kathy Smith sold millions of fitness DVDs, but she has also written several successful books, and her top piece of advice when it comes to exercising is to view this as something that is non-negotiable in your life. Rather than giving in to excuses that you may make to yourself, from having no time to being too tired, find a way to work around these and make exercise a priority in your life.

Physical activity is such an important part of staying healthy, but many people simply do not get enough regular exercise. If you have been feeling unmotivated, follow the advice from these fitness icons and make 2017 the year in which you get back into shape.

Celebrities Who Never Seem to Age

Celebrity

There are some celebrities out there who just never seem to age, and while a part of this is likely due to the media’s airbrushing skills, they do still tend to retain their youthful glow in person too. From Pharrell … Continue reading

Fitness Trends for 2017

The fitness industry is currently thriving like never before, and, as more and more people strive to keep their bodies in shape, the industry is being pushed to really up its game. While 2016 saw many interesting trends make an appearance, 2017 is set to be more exciting than ever, with plenty of new trends to inspire the masses to take more of an interest in fitness.

Workout Apps
Fitness apps have been exploding in popularity recently, and you are likely to see many more workout apps created in 2017. These enable users to engage in an exercise routine wherever they may be, whenever they have a bit of time to spare, giving them a convenient and extremely cost-effective way to work out.

Live-Streaming Fitness Classes
For those who do not live in a big city, you have likely been frustrated at the lack of variation in fitness classes near you, but, thanks to technology, this is soon to change. Rather than having to opt for yet another DVD workout or YouTube tutorial, these live-streaming sessions will take place, in real time, on platforms such as Facebook and Periscope, and will be broadcast from some of the hottest fitness studios around.

Woman working out in adult playground
Adult Playgrounds
Adult playgrounds have been popping up quite a bit this past year, but you can expect to see them take quite the surge in 2017 as they become much more mainstream. These outdoor gyms are not just appearing in public parks as you would expect, but can be found in many more unusual locations, from office roof terraces to spacious sidewalk spots, ensuring that everybody is able to easily access one.

Functional Fitness for the Elderly
Fitness levels can really begin to decline with age, unless an active effort is made to prevent this. In 2017, there is likely to be quite the rise in fitness classes for the elderly, but rather than them being standard fitness classes, these will be focussed more on functional fitness. This means focussing on areas such as strength and balance, as well as joint mobility and general mood, all of which will significantly help to elevate daily living standards for this generation.

Outdoor Obstacle Courses
While intense outdoor bootcamps may be declining in popularity, outdoor obstacle courses, such as the Tough Mudder, are steadily on the rise. The majority of these that are currently available are more suited to those with advanced fitness levels, but the newer courses that you will see next year will make this activity available to all.

Woman boxing
Boxing
Boxing has always been loved by many, but it was often difficult for beginners to become involved with this sport. 2017 sees that beginning to change, not only with the introduction of boutique boxing studios, which practice a no-contact style of boxing, but also due to the increasing number of beginners classes that are now being hosted by traditional boxing gyms.

Fitness is key when it comes to healthy living, and an increasing number of people are beginning to become aware of this. Thanks to this mainstream attention, the fitness industry is now witnessing a surge in adrenaline-pumping trends, all of which promise to help keep your body, and mind, in perfect condition.

What You Can Teach Your Children About Healthy Living

children eating healthy food
Helping your children to develop healthy living habits while they are still young will really set them up for success in the long run. From educating them about food to making exercise fun, these are a few ways in which you can easily teach your children about how to live a healthy, and happy, life.

Food Education
Many schools do not include modules on healthy food and nutrition in their syllabus, meaning that it is up to you as the parent to ensure that your child learns as much as possible on this subject. There are so many ways to do this, and it is best to use a variety of methods to ensure that they do not become bored. Taking your child grocery shopping with you, and then helping them to prepare a healthy meal by themselves, will teach them about making healthy food choices when shopping, while learning how to read food labels. For those aspiring young chefs out there, help them to create their very own cookbook that features healthy recipes, and introduce them to some television personalities that promote healthy eating, so that they have positive role models to look up to.

mom and kid exercising
Make Exercise Fun
The recommended amount of physical activity for children is one hour a day, but with children these days spending more and more time indoors, this can be quite difficult for some parents to implement. The key here is ensuring that physical activity is always fun for your kids, and perhaps starting off with a smaller amount before gradually building this up as their fitness levels improve. There are many activities out there that children can get involved in, from dancing to cycling to team sports. For younger children, fun games such as tag or hide and seek will keep them on the move, while older children may enjoy the challenge of a fitness app that tracks their steps.

Positive influence
Be a Positive Influence
Your children will look up to you as a role model, so you need to make sure that you are providing them with a positive influence to follow. This means that, not only should your children be making healthy food choices and staying active, but so should the rest of the family. By working on a healthy lifestyle together, you will increase your chances of success, as you will have so much extra support, and it will also help with family bonding. When it comes to picking out rewards for your children, do not veer towards the standard, unhealthy, choices, such as extra television time, and opt instead for a reward that is in line with your healthy living practices, such as a family outing to the local national park.

As a parent, there are many ways in which you can encourage your children to be making healthy choices from a young age. By doing so, you will be helping to set healthy habits that they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

You Can Be Physically Fit

Keeping your body physically active is vital when it comes to good health, with studies showing that regular activity can go a long way when it comes to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, which are two of the nation’s biggest killers. From aerobic exercises that benefit the heart, to muscle strengthening activities that boost stamina and flexibility, working on building your physical fitness will bring about a range of benefits to your body.

Women exercising
Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises keep the larger muscles in your arms, legs and hips moving, which, in turn, will make you breathe deeper and faster. This then increases the amount of oxygen that your blood is able to carry, and, with your heart beating faster, boosts blood flow to your muscles and lungs. Aerobic exercises will hugely benefit heart health, and there are many that you can choose from. For those who are not yet physically fit, walking is often the best aerobic exercise to start off with, as not only is it free and easy, but it is also quite a social activity. If you find yourself needing some extra motivation, there are several walking programs that you can sign up for, and these are proven to help increase success rates. Other aerobic exercises that are fantastic for the heart include biking, swimming, jogging, rowing, dancing and climbing the stairs.

Woman lifting weights
Muscle Strengthening Exercises
Engaging in exercises at least twice a week that strengthen the muscles is not only recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services, but also by the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine. The reason for this is due to the way in which improved muscle strength is able to prevent bones from weakening with age, otherwise known as osteoporosis, cuts back on age-related muscle loss, and boosts an individual’s range of motion. For many adults and seniors, muscle strengthening exercises are just as, if not more, important than aerobic activity, and both of these should be incorporated into your weekly schedule. There are a number of activities that can help strengthen your muscles, from yoga to weight exercises to resistance training, with each activity improving muscle strength in different ways.

Minimum Amount of Exercise Needed
While exercising every day is always going to be the most beneficial, there are different recommended amounts depending on the health issue that you are hoping to address. To give your cardiovascular health an overall boost, you should be engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity over the course of the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. You should also be including muscle-strengthening exercises two days a week, although this should be increased if you feel that your age puts you at a higher risk. When it comes to lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, 40 minutes of activity four times a week should be sufficient, but if this seems as though it may be too challenging for you, set yourself some shorter goals and work up to the optimum amount.

For those that live a relatively sedentary lifestyle, becoming physically fit can seem like an uphill battle. However, everyone has to begin somewhere, so start off small and work your way up until you have managed to reach the fitness level that you have aspired to.