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AARP Bulletin

Smart Tips for Staying Healthy in 2014

12 ways to focus on your health, from January to December


Fitness trackers for logging information about summer workouts are getting smarter — and cheaper — all the time. The typical tracker now costs less than a month's fee at a fitness club. One model about to hit the market not only measures how many steps you take and how well you sleep but also recognizes more than 100 different exercises; it also measures your heart rate and blood oxygen level and tabulates how many calories you burn.


For National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, we remind men that mindlessly popping omega-3 fish oil pills may not be a good idea. Studies show that men with high levels of fish oils in their blood — either from pills or from eating fatty fish more than twice a week — are at increased risk for the type of prostate tumors most likely to be fatal. New research suggests that yoga is a good way to lower your risk of a fall. Falls send more than 2 million older Americans to the emergency room each year. By promoting balance and muscle strength, yoga not only helps prevent falls but also lowers injury rates. Another study found that waltzing around your living room three times a week can also reduce your risk of a fall.


This is Depression Awareness Month. Although coffee certainly isn't a cure for serious depression, a recent Harvard study, based on 16 years of data from more than 200,000 adults, found that drinking two to four cups of java a day may lower suicide risk — by half. Researchers believe that caffeine, a mild stimulant, may be a mood booster. If the onset of shorter days fills you with dread, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that comes and goes as the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters — which are sensitive to light — fluctuate throughout the seasons. How to beat the "winter blues"? Get more Vitamin D. Exercise. Get outside every day. Get enough sleep. And consider light therapy — sitting next to a type of bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.


It's easy to overeat during the holidays, so why not go into the season with a plan? Here are some suggestions: Stick to smaller plates and smaller servings. Split an entrée — or a big portion of anything — with someone else. And say no to seconds. Drink lots of water. When it comes to dessert, go for fresh fruit. And if you're eating out, take home half of your meal to enjoy later. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. There will never be a better time to quit smoking. If you are age 55 to 79 and smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a day, or have within the past 15 years, you should ask your doctor if he recommends a CT scan, which can catch lung cancer early.


With flu season at its peak, these seven foods may help keep you healthy: almonds (antioxidant vitamin E); black-eyed peas (a good source of zinc); carrots (vitamin A helps fight respiratory infections); mushrooms (selenium wards off flu); tea (green or black has powerful antioxidants); tomatoes (vitamin C); yogurt (probiotics).

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