Dr Michael Mosley shares his favourite shortcuts to getting healthy, and staying healthy and well, as we get older. He wanted to look at things that people could easily fit into their lives, which they might not be doing at the moment – and where there was some real science behind them.
Dr Michael Mosley is a writer and television presenter, and former medical doctor. He has written several health-related bestsellers including The Fast Diet and the 8-week Blood Sugar Diet, as well presenting on Trust Me I’m a Doctor on BBC.
Escape to green space
Spend some calming and still time in a green space, among green grass and trees, embracing the smells, sight and sounds of nature. Your blood pressure and cortisol levels will decrease, and the power of your immune system will increase.
Take an early morning walk
An early morning walk will expose you to light and reset your internal clock. The time of your walk is important, as is the briskness of your pace.
Eat fermented food
Fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi are produced by the controlled growth of beneficial microorganisms. They break down carbohydrates, and their bacteria add healthful diversity to your gut.
Learn a new skill
As we learn something new (it can be anything!) our brains make new neural pathways and patterns, our brain’s white matter increases, and our processing speed increases. Challenge yourself and your brain to make those connections by trying new things.
Stand on one leg
By having to balance, you are challenging your brain and your body. Even standing on one leg while your cup of tea is brewing is enough. Do it often, try and mix it up a bit, and keep your brain guessing! Improved balance can mean better bone health, and a lower risk of a stroke amongst other things.
Take a cold shower
Definitely not one of my favourites! However, cold water immersion has been shown to be good for your immune system, can improve mental health and may even protect your brain from neurodegenerative conditions. 45 seconds is enough, no longer – and do talk to your doctor first if you have a history of heart disease or asthma.
Do some press-ups or squats
There is emerging evidence that strength can prolong our lives. If press-ups aren’t your thing, try squats instead.
Take a breath
Deep, slow, breathing can improve your heart health, reduce anxiety and improve brain power. Breathe in – count to four, hold it for two counts, then breathe out as you count to four.
Have a hot bath
Daily hot baths are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, and stroke. Hot water can lower your blood pressure and improve the heart’s ability to pump blood. As a bonus, taking bath 90 minutes before bedtime can even help you sleep better.
Count your blessings
Be grateful. People who have more of a grateful mindset tend to be more resistant to anxiety and depression – even when living with a chronic health condition. A common technique you can use is to record ‘three good things’ a day.
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