10 Ways to Love Your Heart

 

Watercolor picture with bright red heart on blue background

  • Snack on almonds (1 ½ ounces every day can help lower bad cholesterol)
  • Enjoy fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C and your heart will be rewarded with a potent antioxidant.
  • Sweat it up!  Strenuous exercise a couple times a week is heart-healthy.
  • Don’t forget vitamin D – research shows that vitamin D deficiency may lead to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Cuddle with your significant other or your furry friend. This helps lower stress levels and blood pressure.
  • Floss your teeth – good for your gums, and may help protect against heart disease.
  • Let go of anger and resentment – this reduces stress and blood pressure, and can help lower your heart rate.
  • Find a reason to have a good belly laugh.  At least one daily.  Laughing not only reduces stress and tension, it improves blood flow (reducing blood pressure). It may also boost good cholesterol levels.
  • Fill up with fiber (afraid of tootin’? Find some tips to help avoid gaseous emissions at the Everyday Health site
  • Try some yoga poses for a healthy heart.

Sources:

Narula, T., M.D. Have a Heart Healthy Day. Oprah magazine. February 2014.

Westen, R. Top 50 Ways to Stay Healthy. AARP magazine. October/November 2015.

Fitness Fan Forever

Did my love for physical fitness begin in elementary school, when PE class consisted of doing toe touches and push-ups to the “Chicken Fat” song?  And, of course, climbing up that scratchy rope that was attached to the gym’s ceiling (what the heck was that all about??) 

c165461_a

Nah.  

How about in middle school, when we were introduced to swim class, rubber swim caps that left dents in our foreheads and stretched out swimsuits that had been worn by God knows how many others?

semi_simple_swimming_sketch

Nah. 

Could I have fallen in love with physical fitness in High School, where I was always one of the last ones chosen for floor hockey games, and actually fractured my thumb after hitting a wall during relay races? 

And again, Nah.

No, I became a fitness fanatic at the age of 19, when I decided my knees were too chubby. For some reason, (too many French fries?) my clothing size had increased to double digits. I took drastic action:

  • I would walk for miles or ride my bike for hours. (A bit extreme, right? Hey, I was young).
  • I would attempt a hundred sit-ups a day (not known as crunches back then).
  • I (foolishly) over exercised, believing that if some exercise was good for you, excessive workouts would be even better. 

Then came the eighties, with its high impact aerobics and Richard Simmons dancing and sweating (not attractive, Richard) to the oldies. And of course, Jane Fonda, looking good in her tights and leotards, cheerfully leading us flabby people in those complicated steps and grapevines (bulimic, but who knew?). Unfortunately, my left foot never figured out what my right foot was doing. Bummer.

Somewhere along the way, I learned to love to sweat. I also figured out that I didn’t have to overdo it and exercise every stinkin’ day to get its benefits. 

Exercise is a great way to laugh in the face of aging. I love it because it makes me feel like I can kick ass, even at age 58.  I hope to be able to exercise until just before I kick the bucket. 

Benefits of Exercise:

Studies Show Exercise Can Improve Your Sex Life

The Hidden Benefits of Exercise

Resistance Training Health Benefits

It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor. (Marcus Tullius Cicero)

 

Easy Ways to Protect your Bones (No Cow’s Milk Needed)

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 66 – 6/15/15

c382081_m

1. At breakfast, eat calcium and vitamin D fortified bread and cereals, along with fortified orange juice.  Top your cereal with almond, rice, or soy milk.  Silk almond milk comes in a nice variety of flavors and offers more calcium than cow’s milk. 

2. Don’t forget your greens! Dark greens, such as broccoli, kale, collard greens and bok choy are all good food options to boost your calcium levels.  

3.   Love fish?  Try salmon for a calcium boost.  A mere 3 ounces of salmon provides 181 milligrams of calcium.* (The recommended daily allowance is 1000 milligrams of calcium each day, along with 600 IUs of vitamin D for those of us over 50) 

4.  Nuts, especially almonds, brazil nuts and peanuts.  Nuts rank high in other nutrients as well.  

5. Don’t forget to move that body!  Walk, climb stairs, lift weights – We need 30 minutes of some type of weight-bearing exercise at least five days every week to keep those bones strong.  Regular physical activity helps us in too many ways to count.  

Calcium Thieves to Avoid: 

  • Cola products – The phosphoric acid may prevent proper calcium absorption.* 
  • Processed, canned and fast foods, as well as other salt laden foods.

Source: 

*AARP, the Magazine. March 2015. Boost Your Bone Health in Your 50s

For further reading:

Exercise for your Bone Health 

The Importance of Calcium – How to get Enough without Dairy 

Advice from the Blue Zones: Avoid the Sitting Disease

c161695_s

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 65– 6/8/15

Yes, I know I’ve talked about the sitting disease before, but it bears repeating! 

In Sardinia, Italy, walking is a regular part of people’s lives.  In Okinawa, most people are not only avid walkers, but gardeners as well.  In the Nicoya Peninsula, people take pleasure in physical labor throughout their lives.  In the Greek Island of Ikaria, even the elderly walk, bicycle, or work daily in their gardens.  These are some of the “blue zones” of the world, where people regularly live to be 100+, as well as avoiding age-related illnesses and dementia.  These people are natural movers.  Their living environment encourages this regular physical activity.

What a stark contrast to our sedentary lifestyles in most of the United States!  The “sitting disease” is alive and well here; too much sitting causes obesity, along with higher risks for heart attacks, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, (all of which can lead to an earlier death).

Additionally, according to research discussed in this article from Medical News Today, exercise alone may not be able to counteract the effects of the sitting disease.  Along with a regular exercise routine, we also need to get up off our butts, stand up and walk around periodically. All it takes is from one to three minutes of standing up and moving around every 30 minutes.  Check out this Harvard Health article to find out more about the sitting disease, along with related posts about exercise and fitness.  

Take a stand against the sitting disease at the Just Stand website! 

4 Ways to Combat Sitting Disease 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2015

Living to be 100 – the Blue Zones

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 61– 5/25/15 

 

sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

Sunset on Saronic Gulf of Aegean Sea near Athens, Greece

I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about centenarians lately. Recently in my workplace, employees had the opportunity to watch a Ted Talk video by Dan Buettner (How to Live to be 100). Beuttner pointed out that while it’s certainly not “easy” to live to 100, there are areas of the world where it is more common to do so.  He described the blue zones – places where people commonly live to a ripe old age.  And in my current class through Ed2Go (Healthy Aging), I read that centenarians are the fastest growing demographic group in the world.

One thing that struck me as I watched the video was that in these blue zone communities, there was a sense of respect for the elders (family came first, and that meant keeping parents and grandparents close, not casting them off in nursing homes) and a strong sense of community. The centenarians in these communities had a sense of belonging and of purpose.  

Lovely grandmother with her family outside their house

After all, what’s the point of a long life if you’re stuck in a nursing home or in your own home, vulnerable and isolated?  Our American society would do itself a favor by treating their elderly with respect and compassion. As individuals, we can also enhance our aging by having a “take charge” attitude toward our health and not letting those old age stereotypes govern our lives   According to health and aging researchers, we can add over a decade of to our lives, unhindered by age-related diseases,  simply by taking the measures followed by people in the “blue zones.” 

You can read more about aging in the blue zones in the March/April 2015 edition of the Positive Aging Newsletter from the Taos Institute. 

The Taos Institute 

You can get the newsletter sent directly to your inbox 

For further reading:

7 Cultures that Celebrate Aging and Respect their Elders. 

Places that you don’t live as an older person (scary and sad) 

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009 – 2015

Secrets of Centenarians

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 52  

bea

5/1/15 Bea’s Buzz for Friday

Want to live to be 100?  You may want to take some advice from the centenarians who were polled (along with 65-year-old baby boomers) who were polled last year in UnitedHealth Group’s 9th annual 100@100 SurveyThe survey examined their health “secrets,” along with their attitudes about aging and their lifestyles. 

Not surprisingly, both the 65-year-old group and the 100 year olds feel younger than their chronological age.  While this fact may surprise younger people (you know, the ones who think 30 is like, beyond ancient), it’s certainly not news to Bea, who is a couple years this side of 60 and feels about 35! 

The “secrets” that the centenarians and baby boomers revealed aren’t too surprising, either. According to those polled:  

  • A positive attitude, and an ability to laugh at life, are key factors to good health in old age. (This has been proven again and again in scientific research – see below for additional reading)
  • Taking a pro-active approach to health by getting annual physicals, along with annual eye exams is another key to maintaining health and wellness. 
  • Finally:  Exercise, exercise, exercise! Good for both brain and body.  Both the 65-year-old group and the centenarians got regular exercise – which included strength training, walking, biking, even running. 

Then again, longevity could just be a matter of plain old luck.

Take a look at this year’s 100@100 survey, which polled centenarians and 10 year olds! 

Bea says:  Add Years to your Life, and Life to your Years

For further reading:http://beaboomerswellness.com/?p=98

Older People Become What They Think 

Attitudes about Aging Affect Longevity, Study Says

Sources:

Advisor/Source newspaper, (May 25, 2014). Centenarians reveal their secrets to a long, happy life. 

UnitedHealthcare website 

 

 

 

Why Take Charge of your Health?

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 51 – 4/29/15

Senior Woman Relaxing After Exercise

One day I was talking to one of my sisters about health changes as we grow older and she said “Yea, my health was good up until I turned fifty, then it was downhill after that.”  My sister has the same mindset my mom had:  the “oh well, bad health is inevitable when I get old.”  

Yegads, what an outlook!

My thinking is just the opposite!  I believe that we can and should be proactive about our health, not reactive.  After seeing the health problems my mom lived with, which included heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis, I was determined not to age that way. So far, I haven’t.  At almost 59 years old, I don’t have any of the conditions my mom suffered with, except for high cholesterol, which is controlled by my diet, exercise and a statin drug.  

We have a wealth of healthy aging resources at our fingertips nowadays; not only on the Internet, but in public libraries, bookstores, and television channels such as Discovery Health.  Why not use it to our advantage?  We’re living longer these days – don’t know about you, but I also want to live healthier, physically and mentally.  

Here are just a few of those resources that help us take charge of our health: 

 

 

 

7 Mini Health Habits

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 44 – 4/13/15 

Woman lying in bed sleeping

Get a good sleep to enhance your memory banks and other brain functions.

Woman relaxing on a sofa

Want to enhance your sleep? Turn off the television or computer before bedtime and relax with soothing music or meditation CDs. 

Eat a handful of almonds a day to help reduce your cholesterol.  

Senior Woman With Adult Daughter Relaxing On Sofa At Home

A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. Well, maybe not, but laughter is a great prescription for emotional and physical health.  

Wear sunscreen to avoid looking like an alligator purse as you age and to protect yourself from skin cancer.

Senior Woman Power Walking In The Park

Find time to take a daily walk. Too cold or rainy or hot to walk outside? Try a fitness walk in front of your television.  Brisk walking for 30 minutes a day is good for your heart, and can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. 

Drink green tea for a great anti-oxidant boost. This beverage helps protect our cardiovascular and immune systems. Green tea may even help protect us against several types of cancers. 

How about you, readers?  What actions do you take to enhance your health and wellness? 

7 Mini Heart Healthy Eating Swaps

Bea Boomer’s Vital Aging Project – Day 42 – 4/8/15

Print

  • Enjoying a bowl of tomato soup?  Add black beans for added fiber.
  • For a tasty salad, skip the iceberg lettuce and use a colorful blend of greens – add chickpeas and a variety of veggies.  You can also use the chickpeas to make hummus.  Enjoy it with baby carrots, cucumber slices, celery, zucchini sticks, red or   orange peppers . . . 
  • Love crusty bread? Instead of buttering it, blend olive oil with dried Italian seasoning and minced garlic (or garlic powder) and dip your bread in this mixture. 
  • For a heart-healthy breakfast, try regular or steel-cut oatmeal instead of the instant options.  Add blueberries (or other types of berries), walnuts or almonds, apples with  a tablespoonful of honey. Top with soymilk.  
  • When eating out, choose broiled salmon, lake trout, or whitefish instead of a steak.  The omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish can help us reduce heart attacks and other heart conditions. 
  • For a quick snack, choose a handful of almonds to help lower your cholesterol levels.  
  • To healthify your tacos, skip the ground beef.  Try a soft taco made with whole grain tortillas, ground turkey, brown rice, and seasoned black beans.  Top with avocado slices.

Bea would love to hear about your own heart-healthy food swap ideas.  Drop me a line!

For further reading:

Heart Disease and Young Women

Quick heart-healthy meal recipes

©Bea Boomers Wellness 2009-2015