6 Weeks to a Younger You

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Week 3

BODY

Work up a sweat.

You can't just go for a stroll around the block and expect your heart to get healthier. But you don't have to run a marathon, either. The key is interval training, which means alternating between short bursts of intense activity and longer periods at a more comfortable pace. Not only will you burn more calories, but by increasing your heart rate you improve your stamina and cardiovascular health.

How to start:

Walk, run, swim, or cycle as fast as you can for two minutes, then switch to a steady pace for four minutes. Try to build up to a 30-minute workout.

DIET

Step away from the sugar.

Too much sugar turns into belly fat, which makes your bad cholesterol rise and your good cholesterol fall -- and that can lead to heart disease. Eating a little sweet stuff only makes you want more, says New York City cardiologist Holly S. Andersen, MD, a member of the LHJ Medical Advisory Board. "As your sugar levels start to plummet, your insulin levels rise and your body says, Feed me, feed me! That's why you get the carb craving." Weaning yourself off simple carbs like cookies, candy, and white flour can be tough but is a worthy goal.

How to start:

Do it at breakfast. Replace your cereal or doughnut with foods low in sugar and carbs -- egg whites, a mozzarella stick, walnuts, or almonds -- and you'll feel full longer, have more energy, and be less likely to dig into the candy jar at 11 a.m.

BRAIN

Play mind games.

"The brain is like a muscle -- you can make it stronger by stimulating it," Dr. Fotuhi says. But you can't just do a crossword puzzle every day; you need to seek new challenges.

How to start:

If something at home is broken, tinker with it to try to fix it. Or take a completely different route on your commute. "Even if you get lost you're teasing your brain in a good way," he says. People who challenge their brain all the time keep it in top condition -- and may lower their risk of Alzheimer's.

SPIRIT

Push yourself.

Robert L. Leahy, PhD, author of Beat the Blues Before They Beat You, says that "constructive discomfort" is the ability to do what is uncomfortable to accomplish your goals. You may initially avoid aerobic exercise because you don't like getting sweaty. That discomfort is inevitable when you're getting started, but work through it.

How to start:

Pledge to do one thing that's uncomfortable each day, whether it's knocking off five push-ups or replacing the fries you love with the green veggies you don't. "Think of it as an investment to get what you really want," Dr. Leahy says. "It's like building mental muscle -- it's called self-discipline."

Continued on page 4:  Week 4

 

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