Health & Fitness

Turn your everyday acts into exercise

Here's one question people never ask us: Can we spend more time exercising? We know your schedule is already packed tighter than Cowboys Stadium during the Super Bowl. So try turning everyday activities into exercise. Like a perfect martini, you'll just do what you do, with a healthy twist.

1. Build abs while you wait. Don't fritter away time in line or watching your computer re-boot. Stand tall, clench your butt and suck in your belly to tighten the abs. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat till your wait's over.

2. Move the stationary bike (yoga mat, balance ball) in front of the TV. Drag the couch far, far away. That way you have to work out while you watch.

3. Don't just stand there brushing your teeth. Get gorgeous glutes. Place your free hand on the sink for balance, tighten your butt, and stretch your right leg straight behind you so your foot is 6 to 9 inches off the ground (no leaning forward). Rise up and down on the toes of your left leg, pumping your heel toward the ceiling. Try to do it 30 times; reverse legs and repeat until your teeth and tush both sparkle.

4. Pick up the pace. Whether vacuuming or outdoor chores are on your to-do list, grab your iPod, find some fast music and get a move on. It's a two-fer: You'll burn more calories and finish in less time.

Money woes and weight

Are you gaining weight? Having trouble losing? We have an unusual diet tip to get you on the fast track to a slimmer you: Quit worrying about money.

Yep, financial uncertainties can make you overeat and spark serious cravings for diet-busting sweets. We're not surprised that you might reach for the wrong foods in hopes of boosting your mood or soothing your way to sleep.

We have a better way. These steps will trim your finances and your figure:

1. Cut the fat. In your budget, that is. Track your spending for a month, and we're confident you'll find ways to cut 10 percent. Just that first step toward financial control can cut your stress in half.

2. Don't fret if you can't retire. If you have to work longer than you thought you would, count yourself lucky. It could save your life. Every five years you put off retirement cuts your chances of dying in the next two years by 10 percent.

3. Get expert advice. You may be able to save big by consolidating credit-card debt or refinancing your mortgage.

4. Set aside time to worry. If haunting coulda-woulda-shouldas are keeping you awake, take 15 minutes before bed to face them down. Draw a line down the middle of a page, put your worries on the left and your solutions — even temporary ones — on the right. Don't confuse net worth with self-worth. That should help you sleep.

Boycott fried fish

From salmon and sushi to trout, finned food is brain food — as long as you steer clear of the deep fryer (and bottom eaters like swordfish and tuna, with too much mercury). Three servings of non-fried fish a week can slash your risk of a stroke by as much as 30 percent. But dig into fast-food fish sandwiches and greasy baskets of fried seafood at your local diner, and you'll not only erase that stroke protection, you'll make your stroke risk even higher.

We've got new proof of this: People in America's "stroke belt" — a swath of seven Southeastern states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas) —are 34 percent more likely to have a fatal stroke than folks in other states. They're also 32 percent more likely to eat fried fish. Coincidence? Nope. Turns out that frying seems to "leach" stroke-fighting omega-3 fatty acids out of fish. Plus, the types of fish that are typically fried often are lower in omega-3s to begin with.

Omega-3s (especially DHA) guard your brain (and many, many other vital areas, like your heart, skin and sex organs) four ways: They work to (1) lower your blood pressure; (2) keep lousy LDL cholesterol down and healthy HDL up; (3) put the chill on inflammation; and (4) discourage blood clotting.

So order your seafood broiled, baked or poached. Choose the tasty types that are higher in omega-3s: salmon and trout. Repeat three times a week. Nothing fishy about how young and brainy you'll feel.

Helping teens live longer

Some things you think you know, but do you really? Take salt, for instance. Sure, you know we all consume more than we need, mostly via snacks, and processed and fast foods. But do you know how really out of whack the numbers are?

This is especially true for teenagers. The average teenager consumes more salt than any other age group: at least 3,800 milligrams of sodium a day. That's way more than twice the ideal 1,500 milligrams.

Now for the good news. If teens cut their salt by just one-half tablespoon a day, the number of young adults ages 12 to 24 who already have high blood pressure would drop as much as 63 percent. That translates to a 9 percent reduction in deaths by the time these kids turn 50.

But how do you get teens, who think they're invincible, to make changes when the repercussions feel light years away? Here are a few sneaky ideas.

Take them shopping: At the grocery store, give them a sodium allowance, then let them get as many fave foods as they can without busting their budget. Healthy choices almost inevitably fill up the cart.

Eat together more often: Family dinners (low-salt, healthy ones, of course) have a good influence on children's weight, waists and overall health. Ditto for salt.

Appoint them chef for a day: Let them get creative. The only rule is no processed foods and no added salt. Instead, use pepper, coriander, garlic, basil, etc. Learning how to flavor foods is a great "living life young" asset.

Bon appetit.

Feed your hair

Of course you care how your hair looks. Who doesn't? But did you know that what you feed your body also feeds each of the 150,000 hair follicles on your head? Try these foods for glossy locks.

1. Green tea, walnuts and salmon. The polyphenols and omega-3s in these foods are good for more than your heart and brain. They help make your hair shiny. (And if you're fighting dandruff, try rinsing with green tea. It helps kill off dandruff-causing fungus.)

2. Fruits. Brightly colored ones are rich in vitamin C, essential for making collagen, which gives structure to hair (and firms skin, too).

3. Beans, whole grains and other healthy vitamin B-rich foods. No mystery here: B vitamins (especially B-6 and folic acid) ensure a good supply of blood and oxygen to your hair follicles, encouraging growth and maybe slowing loss.

4. Dark-green veggies. Think spinach, broccoli and Swiss chard. They're great sources of vitamins A and C, which help produce sebum, the scalp oil that's a natural hair conditioner.

5. Dark sesame seeds. The Chinese swear this keeps a man's hair darker longer.

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