Eight Ways to Age Gracefully (and Live Well Now)

Sometimes we can get caught up in the day-to-day, stressed about midterms or what our plans are for next Friday. We can forget that part of growing up is learning how to stay healthy and form good habits for years to come. Here are eight tips from experts on how to stay healthier, stronger and happier.

1. Stay Limber

You wouldn’t think that a morning cat stretch would be helpful for your health, however, daily stretching is very important. Your muscles shorten and stiffen when you aren’t active. Different stretching activities, such as yoga, will improve your flexibility. More flexibility can help relieve the discomfort of chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis, researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found.

For yoga classes offered right here at BC check: http://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/offices/rec/forms/gffall9.5.14.pdf

2. Volunteer

Men and Women for Others”? Check! In a retrospective study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan on high schools, graduates from the class of 1957 found that those who volunteered out of a desire to help others had lower mortality rates than people who volunteered for selfish reasons or did not volunteer at all. Volunteering has also been linked to lower rates of heart disease, stress and depression. Another study found that just thinking about doing something altruistic releases the glee-inducing chemicals serotonin and dopamine. BC is unique for the large number of hours that students put into volunteering on and off campus. In addition participating in the wide array of clubs centered around volunteering, visit the Volunteer and Service Learning Center in Mac 114 for more information on how to get involved or check out there website: http://www.bc.edu/offices/service/

3. Unplug

This is hard to hear. Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that people who spent five or more hours of free time each day working on the computer, watching TV or playing video games exercised 11 fewer minutes a day than people who didn't. Having a smartphone on all day can easily add up to multiple hours spent aimlessly scanning Instagram, Twitter and Yik Yak. Try to nix the bad habit by reducing the amount of time you check the social media updates, or choose certain times and set time limits on how long you are allowed to swipe through. You are at a school with thousands of amazing people. Meet someone new, or just enjoy some good time (unplugged) with your best friends! It will actually benefit your health.

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

4. Munch on wet snacks, not dry ones

Think twice before you go for that extra bag of chips. Water-rich, fiber-packed foods such as fresh fruit, veggie sticks, broth-based soup or baked potatoes pack fewer calories into bigger servings that make you feel full on less, with a lot more necessary vitamins. On the other hand, dry foods like chips, crackers, candy, bagels, pretzels and granola bars cram a lot of calories into small servings, not allowing you to get nice and full. You can find sliced veggie sticks in any salad bar in Mac, Lower or Stewart. Grab a container with the vegetables and some hummus to top them off. Delish!

5. Swallow those vitamins

One cannot live on food alone. While national surveys have shown that up to 80% of Americans think that they eat well, only 1% of Americans actually meets minimum standards for a balanced diet. That’s where multivitamins come in. Choose a multivitamin that contains at least 100% of the daily value of vitamins A, C , E and folic acid. If swallowing vitamins isn’t your thing, there are plenty of “gummy vites” out there as well (even for big adults like us).

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

6. Eat produce at every meal

Late night French fries don’t count. A new report from the CDC suggests that less than a third of Americans are actually getting their Recommended Daily Allowances of fruits and vegetables. Your parents were definitely right raising you to finish your peas before dessert. Have some fun with your produce too! Put strawberries and whipped cream on your waffles, pancakes or even ice cream. Pack your pasta dishes with lots of different vegetables and some marinara sauce. Or, just grab a banana, apple or grapefruit before class.

7. Get help if you need to

College and life in general can be very taxing, not only physically, but mentally as well. It’s OK if you can’t deal on your own- it’s more common than you think to reach out for help. In any given year, as many as 14 million adults experience clinical depression, yet only one in three seek treatment. BC has a great program to help anyone struggling with mental health. For free (part of tuition) you can easily schedule an appointment and seek individual counseling, psychotherapy, crisis response, group counseling and consultation.

Find out more information here: http://www.bc.edu/offices/counseling

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

Photo courtesy of Tumblr

8. Have a laugh (or two)

Even a little giggle goes a long way. After hard hours of studying, reward yourself with a good laugh. The amount of mood-stabilizing endorphins released from one minute of laughing is the same as the amount released with 10 minutes of strenuous rowing. Make sure you save some time in your busy schedule to have a daily, hearty laugh.

For now, here is Jimmy Fallon dressed as a teenage girl:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOK4aBYNh3s

 

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