Health Hacks 6/14/17


Mind

Learn a new skill – chess, a musical instrument, some language you have always wanted to master. If you have kids, get them lessons and learn alongside. Or use it as an opportunity to join a group, or connect with a friend. Maintaining an active mind keeps us youthful and helps to ward off a variety of age related mental diseases. Plus it’s fun!

Nutrition

Pay attention to the quality of your foods. Having a salad? Opt for kale or spinach rather than iceberg lettuce. Yogurt? Forgo that sugar laden Starbucks version and get a nonfat plain Greek yogurt instead (and add some blueberries if you want to sweeten it up, or protein powder if you are in a muscle building mode). A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. The quality of the food we put in our bodies makes a big difference in terms of our weight, energy, and overall health.

Weight Training

Rather than doing a total body workout each time you hit the gym, break down your weight routines into smaller sets of body parts. The major ones are: back, shoulders, triceps, biceps, core, chest, and legs (which can be broken down further to quads, hamstrings, and calves, although I think of legs as one muscle group). A great way to get more out of your weight training is to pick one ‘push’ (chest, shoulders, triceps), and one ‘pull’ (back, biceps) muscle group for a given workout. For example, you might do chest and back during one workout. You would pick 3 – 4 exercises per muscle group, and do 1 chest exercise immediately followed by one back exercise, then rest for a minute (or better yet do core or jump rope), then repeat. Once you have done 3 – 4 sets, pick another set of exercises. Keep doing this until your time is up – 30, 45, 60 minutes – whatever time you have dedicated to your weight workout. You can get in a lot of lifting in a short period of time with this approach.

Cardio

It’s summer time – go find a beach. After warming up, sprint from one lifeguard tower (or tree or trash can or any other object) to the next, then walk for 30 – 45 seconds, then sprint to some other object 100 – 200 meters away. Do this for a while until you are really tired. Then go body surfing. This workout will beat an hour on the elliptical every day of the week, and be a ton more fun. To add to the joy, do it with bare feet and run right along the shore line, doing some of the sprinting with water splashing between your feet.

Spiritual

Practice Tonglen. This is a Buddhist breathing/meditation technique where you receive the suffering of others in order to offer them relief. It can be an individual you know, or a group at large that you have read about but never met. This practice may seem ‘out there’ but ultimately, if you really take a step back and look at the big picture, we are all made of the same energy. Who is to say that if you exert or receive certain energy, it cannot have an impact (good or bad) for another human being?

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