Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Whew. It's been quite a year, hasn't it?
While things like money issues, work-life balance, health and health care, sex in the workplace (or out of it), aging parents, children, siblings and other significant others have always been concerns for us in this so-called midlife, this year trumps all others (pardon the pun).
That's why it's especially important to pay attention to our health, now more than ever. With all this stress, health often is neglected or suffers.
While it's true that our bodies change as we age, growing older and dealing with issues doesn't have to mean giving in.
Admittedly, there is stuff that can happen as you age, but with a little effort, we can all be proactive and stay on top of—or avoid—these changes.
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that we want to remain healthy, vital and fit.
- If you're active, stay active. That might mean tweaking or turning down the dial on your exercise habits so you don't get injured. And if you're not already doing it, it's never too late to start exercising and benefiting from it. Here's how to reset your exercise mojo.
- Concentrate on healthy eating. Incorporate fresh, whole, fiber-rich and less processed foods into your everyday diet as often as possible. Eat lots of fruits and veggies and keep your kitchen stocked with healthy options. Remember to watch your portions, and learn the cues that lead to overeating. Learn more about the best fruits for weight loss.
- Get enough sleep. For most people, that means between seven and nine hours of good quality sleep each night. If you're not getting it, examine the reasons why. Exhausted? Here are five easy ways to boost your energy.
- Practice optimism. Research finds that optimists are healthier and live longer than pessimists. They have better coping skills, more friends and handle stress better. Identify your negative self-talk: Replace the "I can't do that … I'm not good enough" with positive affirmations.
- Laugh more. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cell activity so your body can fight disease. And face it, we don't do enough of it. When we laugh, doesn't it feel so, so good? Find out how to get more laughter in your life.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Skin cancer, wrinkles, premature aging and cataracts. Enough said. Use your sunscreen wisely.
- Stay up to date on your screening tests and medical exams. They can detect disease before you have symptoms. Depending on your age, screenings should include breast and cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol and osteoporosis.
- Don't smoke! This one is obvious. If you smoke, quit—it can lower your blood pressure and heart rate almost immediately. Within two weeks of quitting, your lung function will improve, too.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight not only increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, but also puts excess strain on your joints. What's getting in the way of your weight loss?
- Sit less. Exercise won't undo the ill effects of sitting (sorry!). Sitting for extended periods raises your risk of weight gain, varicose veins, heart disease, diabetes, deep vein thrombosis, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Stand up and stretch every half hour; reach down to touch your toes; use a standing desk for some of the time.
Perhaps the most important tip of all is this: Don't expect to change your habits all at once. Make a few simple changes each day. They'll add up over time and soon enough will become lifelong habits. Share your tips and simple changes in the comments below.
Wishing a happy and healthy new year to each of you. I appreciate you being here!
This post originally appeared on mysocalledmidlife.net.