Nine Ways Get Healthier

This recent MPR News article talks about getting healthier without trying very hard and offers some of their best wellness tips from year 2023. Yep, this is January, and we will come across many such health-related habit-building tips or guides.

Below are the latest research tips from MPR’s Health Team from 2023 on how to stay well without stressing out about it, which I have adopted verbatim, just like other such tips and ideas posts:

  • Get healthier without even going to a gym. “Scientists now say you can get a lot of the health benefits associated with exercise just by increasing how active you are in your daily life. Think of low-effort movements like sweeping the floor, strolling through the grocery aisle, climbing the stairs, bobbing your leg up and down at your desk or stirring the pot while you cook. Learn how NEAT can keep you healthier and how to get more of it.
  • Flip hunger into satisfaction with this cheap superfood. “yes, you can increase satiety hormones by eating more foods with fiber — especially what’s known as fermentable fiber, which is found in foods such as oats, rye, whole wheat and many legumes. Read the full story on your body’s satiety hormones. Plus, there’s a host of other reasons to eat more fiber — it helps control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol and inflammation.
  • Little acts of joy can have a big payoff: “From chatting up a stranger, to taking time to reframe a bad day and find the silver lining, to noticing the beauty of nature, science shows that moments like these make a difference to your well-being. Even petting other people’s dogs can give you a boost.
  • Outsmart dopamine and screens. “Over the past few years, neuroscientists have started to better understand what’s going on in our brains when we can’t stop scrolling through social media or stop shopping online, eating junk food or playing video games. These types of activities trigger surges of the neurotransmitter dopamine. And it’s now becoming clear that rather than giving us pleasure, dopamine drives craving, the urge for more. It has a strong, though short-term, hold on our willpower. Understanding how this works can help shift how you manage your own or your kids’ behavior.
  • Learn from the Japanese way of life. “Japanese cities are designed for walkability and most people take public transport and walk wherever they need to go. And that’s not all: Fresh food is highly prized there, so even convenience store meals to-go are nutritious and not packed with additives. The country has a “default design” that supports wellness, making healthy choices automatic. Walk whenever you can, choose fresh over packaged — and live more like the Japanese.
  • Combat loneliness through creativity. “Loneliness is linked to all kinds of health problems, including increased risk of heart attacks and dementia. And forging new social connections — even with casual acquaintances — can counter that.
  • Find a therapist you can afford. “You could compare finding a therapist to apartment hunting in a crowded housing market. Demand is high; availability is limited. It requires persistence, flexibility and the knowledge that you may not be able to check every one of your boxes.
  • Cut back on the ultraprocessed foods in your diet. “Read the ingredients list of your favorite packaged snack, and you’ll find some things you’ve surely never stocked in your kitchen pantry, like additives that thicken, emulsify, stabilize or preserve. And that’s not to mention high levels of sugar, fat and sodium. Eating a lot of ultraprocessed foods like sodas, TV dinners and packaged sweets is linked to health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • Manage back and neck pain. “If you suffer from back or neck pain, you probably know that hunching over screens isn’t helping. When the brain senses physical or emotional stress, the body releases hormones that trigger muscles to become guarded and tight. Movement breaks counter that stress response by increasing blood flow to muscles, tendons and ligaments and sending nutrients to the spine.

Get artsy. Research shows that making art or even viewing it reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases levels of the feel-good hormones, like endorphins and oxytocin. In other words, it can put you in a relaxed mood, which can help create an inviting vibe to connect.

Jeremy Nobel, a primary care physicianand author (source: NPR News)

Here are five exercises to prevent pain, developed by fitness specialists at NASA, an agency where people work in high-stress seated positions.