Body & Fitness

How to improve your wellbeing

**Deal with stress: Learn to meditate

**oeditation is a useful way to deal with stress and may help to ease or prevent associated conditions such as panic attacks, depression, PoS, ulcers, insomnia, high blood pressure, psoriasis, irritable bowel syndrome and tension headaches. It may also help you deal with pain. oeditation is basically any activity that helps to calm the mind. It usually involves focusing on one particular thing, often a sound or phrase that is repeated. oany methods of meditation can be learned from experienced practitioners, or you could try simply sitting in a quiet place, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. Let your thoughts come and go, and if you are thinking too much about one thing, focus on the sound of your breath until the thoughts slip away and you feel completely relaxed.

Eat a healthier diet: **Snack on celery

**It’s great to nibble between meals, as it’s low in fat and high in fibre. But celery has even more going for it:

  • It’s a good source of vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and several B vitamins.

  • It stimulates the urinary system and helps the kidneys to work efficiently

  • It may help to lower both blood pressure and cholesterol.

  • It may help to fight some cancers thanks to compounds it contains which help prevent damage to cells which may lead to cancer.

  • It contains an anti-inflammatory agent that can help ease the painful symptoms of gout.

**Hot tip!

**Celery is low-fat, a great source of vitamins and may even fight cancer!

Exercise regularly: Take dancing lessons

Dancing can:

  • Help your heart and lungs to work better

  • Strengthen and tone muscles

  • Improve fitness and endurance

  • Help control your weight

  • Help build strong bones

  • Improve co-ordination and flexibility

It can also be good for your mental and emotional health. Research has shown dancing reduces stress and boosts levels of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. And a US study found that frequent dancing sessions may help to ward off Alzheimer’s disease. When you learn and remember new dance moves, new pathways are created in the wiring of the brain, which helps to improve memory. Even cranking up the stereo and making up routines that leave you puffed can help.

Avoid illness: Find out about your family history

If there is a tendency among your relatives to develop a particular condition, it’s useful to know about it so you can take steps to prevent it. Diseases that tend to run in families include heart disease, diabetes and some cancers, and some families may seem to have a high incidence of mental illness, osteoporosis, asthma, allergies and endometriosis.

Your chance of getting one of these diseases may increase if a “first degree” relative such as a parent or sibling had it. The age at which they were diagnosed and when they died also has a bearing. If there is a history of an illness like heart disease, you can reduce your chances of getting it by quitting smoking, exercising regularly, eating healthily and losing weight. Also, see your GP for regular checks, such as blood pressure and cholesterol tests. If the tests show you have other risk factors, you may be put on preventive medication.

Lose weight: **Keep a food diary

**Keeping track of everything going in your stomach may put you off scoffing that bar of chocolate if you know you’ve got to write it down. A diary can also reveal eating patterns you may not have realised you had. If you make a point of writing down how you were feeling when you ate, you may notice that you eat more when you’re bored or stressed, and you can then develop strategies to do something other than eat when you feel this way.

Add extra years to your life: **Get rid of your gut!

**If your waist measures more than 90cm, you’re twice as likely to die of heart disease than a woman whose waist is less than 70cm, according to a US study. When you pile on weight around your abdomen and waist, it tends to be a type of fat called visceral fat. It’s dangerous because visceral fat cells produce hormones and other chemicals that can disrupt our body’s normal functioning, leading to an increased risk of health problems like diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It has also been associated with some cancers. The good news is that diet and exercise can help to shift visceral fat.

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