22 Live-Long Tricks
By Nancy Rones
It only takes a few minutes a day to dramatically improve your health.
And with our list of fun and easy good-for-you habits, you'll want to get
started right away.
Yeah, yeah — you know that exercising and eating right should be at the top
of your daily to-do list. But let's face it: Some days there's barely enough
time to sprint from the car to the pizza parlor to grab a pie to go. We're in
no way suggesting you abandon those bigger long-term health goals, but we would
like to help you by giving you these 22 simple, science-backed steps that you
can take today— and every day — to live a longer, healthier, happier
life. And don't let the small nature of these lifestyle tweaks fool you:
They're proven to have a major impact on your health.
Buy a bouquet.
Looking at flowers can put you in a brighter mood, research from Rutgers
suggests. In three different studies, receiving flowers was shown to have both
immediate and long-term positive effects on emotional outlook.
Go overboard on sunscreen.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in this country, but it is
largely preventable. While you definitely want to use a broad-spectrum
sunscreen (which blocks both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 15 or higher,
slathering on enough sunscreen is actually the most important factor for
determining how effectively a lotion works, according to a study published in
The Lancet. If you're spending a full day on the beach, aim to go
through a whole small 3- to 5-oz tube. In winter months when UV rays are
weaker, applying an SPF moisturizer to your face and other exposed skin in the
morning or before you head outdoors is probably enough. But know that there's
no hard evidence that sunscreen protects against malignant melanoma, which is
the deadliest form of skin cancer, so your best protection is to minimize
direct sun exposure and wear protective clothing in addition to lubing up.
Have oatmeal for breakfast.
Why? For starters, it may help you shed unwanted pounds: In one study,
participants who had oatmeal for breakfast ate 30 percent fewer calories at
lunch compared to those who had cornflakes. Oats are complex carbs, so they
digest slowly and keep blood sugar steady, which fends off hunger and may help
control type 2 diabetes. Oatmeal also acts like a sponge during digestion by
soaking up excess cholesterol for faster excretion, which can lower risk of
heart disease, says Dee Sandquist, R.D., an American Dietetic Association
Play some head games.
Keeping your mind stimulated boosts memory and brainpower and slashes your
risk of developing dementia nearly in half, according to a study conducted at
the University of New South Wales in Australia. Look for fun ways to challenge
your brain: Try to memorize the phone numbers programmed into your mobile phone
and make calls without using speed dial; brush your teeth or try using
chopsticks with your nondominant hand; mentally tally the total cost of your
groceries as you put each item in the shopping cart; or start a monthly trivia
game night with friends.