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May 15, 2018 | Patricia Wuest

Researchers: Older adults benefit from healthy lifestyle changes to a greater degree than other age group

Older adults benefit from healthy lifestyle changes to a greater degree than any other age group, according to the Diabetes Prevention Program study. “The lifestyle change program can help you lose weight through eating better and being more physically active,” reports the Centers for Disease Control. “You will also learn how to reduce stress. All of these things will help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and of having a heart attack or stroke.” 

Where to begin? You may give up if the changes are too drastic, challenging or not fun. Try these nine things to get started on a path to a healthier you! 

Start the day right by eating protein. Try eating a two-egg omelet. No time to cook eggs? Eat Greek yogurt with nuts. 

Move every hour. Whether you’re sitting at a desk at work or on the couch at home, make sure you get up once every hour during the day. At work, try the 3-minute plan: Go outside to take a small break and walk for 3 minutes, get up and stretch for about 3 minutes, clean up things around your desk while standing for 3 minutes. At home, use your breaks to get a few things done: Walk outside to get the mail, water your potted plants, vacuum your rugs, organize your bookshelf. It may not seem like much, but by moving every hour for a small amount of time, you’re recharging both your body and brain — and you may end up accomplishing something you’ve been putting off, like straightening up a small space! 

When ordering a salad, always ask for the dressing on the side. When eating a salad at home, make your own dressing. A lot of store bought-salad dressings are 4:1 oil to vinegar. When you make your own, you can make the ratio 2:1 vinegar to oil. One of my favorites: Combine 1 cup good-quality balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 minced small garlic clove, 2 tsp. organic honey and 1 tsp. good quality-brown mustard. 

Find a walking buddy, and go for a walk every day. The social aspect of walking with someone means you’ll hardly notice the miles, and if you agree to walk with a spouse, friend or neighbor, you’ll be less likely to skip it. Even a 15-minute walk has benefits, but aim for 30 to 60 minutes of walking every day. 

Wait 20 minutes before deciding to get seconds. It takes that long for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full. If you are still hungry after 20 minutes, get a second helping, but try to make it veggies. They are low in calories but loaded with fiber, antioxidants and nutrients. 

Always take a water bottle with you. Make your own “spa water” by adding mint and cucumber or strawberries and lemon wedges. And say goodbye to soda.Even one diet soft drink a day could increase your risk of being overweight by 65 percent, according to a study by the American Dietetic Association. Replace your soda habit with green tea, which contains catechins that may boost your metabolism. 

Exercise even when you’re tired. Chances are, you’ll feel better after exercising. Set a small goal when you’re feeling especially exhausted — walk around the block while breathing deeply. Often, even if you’ve set one lap as a goal, you’ll find yourself doing more. Deep breathing will help induce “exercise euphoria,” making you feel energized. And even if you don’t do more, the old adage is true: Every little bit helps.  

Buy vegetables you like and then prep them and keep them handy in the fridge. This way, you’re more likely to reach for them when you want a snack. 

Reward yourself. Experts say that making behavior changes is hard, and rewards help to motivate. You can try both short-term and long-term goals and rewards So decide on a goal and a reward, and work toward it. For example, a short-term goal is to walk 5,000 steps a day for one week, and the reward is to buy something for the house, yard or yourself. A long-term goal could be to lose 20 pounds over 12 months, and the reward is taking a trip to someplace you’ve always wanted to visit. Do whatever works for you and write it down so you truly commit to it. 

Source for the Diabetes Prevention Study: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/prediabetes-type2/preventing.html

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