Bonus Benefits of Being Healthy

Two female joggers on foggy Morro Strand State Beach, seen during a Digital Photo Walk led by Mike Baird,  17 May 2009.

Being at your optimal peak of health is important for longevity and quality of life. You may take all the necessary steps to good health like not smoking, drinking plenty of water or brushing your teeth after each meal. However, you may not know that some of the basic habits you do every day have hidden benefits that can boost your overall health even further. Check out some of the surprising ways your healthy habits work to keep you feeling younger and healthier.

Smoking is damaging for many reasons: they way it can make your skin, teeth and lips look old, the way it can cause lung, throat, mouth and other types of cancer, and the effect it can have on people around a smoker who inhale the secondhand smoke. However, it causes hidden damage, too…to your brain! Smoking may limit the amount of blood that goes to the brain, leaving smokers open for memory problems. Quitting smoking starts to reverse the damage quickly, and people who have quit have seen a measured increase in their memory in studies.

Brushing your teeth is important for many reasons: preventing gum disease, keeping your teeth white and your breath fresh, and . . . preventing heart attacks? Brushing your teeth regularly and seeing the dentist twice a year, especially if you are a woman, have been shown to reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack. Why is this? People who have gum disease are more at risk for cardiovascular issues because the bacteria from the mouth travels to the bloodstream, where it can wreak havoc on arteries. A dentist will be able to monitor your risk during your dental visits, so visiting the dentist might help save your life!

Eat carrots for eye health, right? How about seafood? The omega-3′s in fish, nuts and oil can help save your eyes as you age. We all have heard of people who say they had perfect vision in their 20′s, but needed glasses by the time they were in their 50′s. This is because the muscles in the eyes weaken with age, making it hard for older people to focus. Eating fish can help protect against the decline in the eye as people age, and as a bonus, the omega-3′s in fish like salmon also help your heart and memory.

Working out regularly is beneficial, no matter how you look at it. But certain types of workouts have added benefits. Making sure you have strong core muscles, with a workout such as Pilates, using an exercise ball, or doing strength training exercises that work the back, stomach and surrounding muscles, can actually help you perform other workouts better. Strengthening core muscles gives you better stability and helps keep you from injuring yourself when you engage the wrong muscles to compensate for a weak core. This is particularly important for people who run, and can help runners go faster. Another workout with a side benefit is yoga. The poses you do in your yoga class improve your balance, which is very important as you age and your sense of balance starts to go. In fact, one of the leading causes of death in older adults is falls! That Tree pose can help improve your life in more ways than one!

Sticking to the healthy habits you’ve already put in place in your life is not only important for good health and longevity, it can also provide you with other healthy benefits that can help you prevent disease and increase the quality of your life as you age!

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