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Think you've missed the boat when it comes to certain healthy habits? Karen Fittall's got some good news
Flossing you know you should do it regularly, but it's never been on your list of must-do health behaviours, so what's the point in starting now? In fact, the same goes for meditation, exercising regularly and switching from coffee to black tea you know they're all good in theory, but surely you should have put them into practice years ago in order to reap the rewards healthwise?
Wrong. In fact, some healthy habits and lifestyle changes are powerful enough to produce results in just a matter of weeks (and in some cases, hours). Try these ideas on for size
It's never too late to: start drinking black tea
To: lower your cholesterol
You'll see results: in about three weeks.
That's according to US researchers who found that after 21 days of drinking five cups of black tea a day, people's levels of LDL or
'bad' cholesterol, had dropped by 11 per cent. What's so good about black tea? Like the green variety, it's packed full of flavonoids, a powerful antioxidant
It's never too late to: take up yoga
To: generate a more positive outlook
You'll see results: in two months.
Iranian researchers say that partaking in 90-minute yoga classes twice a week over an eight-week period was enough to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by 13 percent in the women who took part in the study. According to another group of researchers, the effect isn't purely thanks to yoga's ability to change a person's emotional or psychological state of mind the ancient practice also has a tangible biological effect.
It's never too late to: become internet savvy
To: improve your memory and decision-making skills
You'll see results: after just a week's worth of 'surfing'.
A 2009 study discovered how, for middle-aged people who haven't spent much time online before, performing internet searches for about an hour a day, for a total of seven days over a two-week period could fire up relatively dormant areas in their brains.
The result? Potentially, a better ability to recall information and becoming more decisive. According to the researchers, using an online search engine is actually a simple form of exercise for the brain, because it has to learn to retain information while extracting relevant bits and pieces from a variety of competing sources and graphics.
It's never too late to: start taking the stairs
To: decrease your risk of dying prematurely
You'll see results: in about 12 weeks, which isn't bad considering it's a small change to make.
A European study found that when hospital employees, who typically did less than two hours of exercise per week, started using the stairs
every day, their health improved remarkably in just three months.
On average waist circumferences dropped by 1.8 percent, body fat fell by 1.7 percent, LDL cholesterol levels fell by 3.9 percent and lung capacity rose by 8.6 percent. All up, the researchers said the combined results meant a 15 percent reduction in the chances of dying prematurely from any cause.
It's never too late to: adopt the 'apple a day' mentality
To: give your immune system a boost
You'll see results: in about six weeks.
The key is eating plenty of soluble fibre, the type found in apples, but also foods like oats, lentils, soy products and nuts. A 2010 study from the University of Illinois found that after six weeks on a soluble fibre-rich diet, subjects became only half as sick as the control group when exposed to a bacterial infection, and recovered 50 per cent sooner.
For the complete story, see the June 2010 issue of Good Health.
Interview with Good Health editor Catherine Marshall
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