Special needs

4 easy ways to take care of you

Amy learns just how important it is to take care of yourself

By Amy Baskin
4 easy ways to take care of you

Most of us don't eat enough fruit and veggies. Photo: Amy Baskin

Hey gang — feeling a wee bit overloaded? No worries — I’ve got the latest advice about taking care of YOU. Recently I went to Sex, Aging & Memory — Canada's First Women's Brain Health Conference. Sadly, there was little talk about sex. But I learned about some easy, quick ways to stay healthy.
I know — who’s got time? But here’s a sobering thought: Many of our kids need care, advocacy and support throughout their lives. So we need to work at staying strong, sane and connected.
In one conference session, Dr. Marla Shapiro mentioned a study involving mothers caring for chronically ill children (with conditions such as muscular dystrophy.) Researchers found that the cellular material in these moms was like that in someone 10 years older. The moms had aged on a cellular level. Scary.
Bottom line — to care for our kids we need to care for ourselves. Here are some hot tips I learned at the conference:
Eat, sweetie
There’s no magic bullet food that’s going to keep your body and brain healthy, says Dr. Carol Greenwood, a scientist at Baycrest and professor of nutritional science at University of Toronto. Most of us don't eat enough fruits and veggies for health, she says. Strategy: Increase your fruits/veggies and servings of fish. Hey — that’s doable.
Move it
Aim for 30 minutes a day of moderate to intense exercise (ie: brisk walking). It’s OK to accumulate this in 10-minute bursts. Ie. Walk your kid to school, walk at lunch and run up and down your stairs — voila — 30 minutes. 
See your doc
Yeah — I know — I put it off too. Depending on your age, there’s a smorgasbord of fun stuff to get done: pap test, bloodwork, cholesterol and blood pressure measurements — even a cool stool test, where you mail a sample away in an envelope. "Remember to mail it back," Shapiro says.
See your friends

Healthy food, exercise, not smoking, social connections, seeing your doc etc are all important. But of all the factors that promote health, brain health and longevity, one is THE MOST IMPORTANT, says Shapiro. You guessed it: social connectedness. Connecting with others is crucial to our health in the long run. 
Guess that’s a good thing to remember while heading out to (or hosting) yet another holiday get-together.

So, I've decided to try one EASY way to rev up my (and my family's) health:

Today, I’m slicing up a whack of veggies — red and orange peppers, carrots, cucumber and celery. Maybe even jicama!  Then, I'll store them in the fridge for easy, frequent munching. (Talia loves them dipped in Ranch dressing.) 
Your turn. What's one easy way you take care of your own health when time is tight?

This article was originally published on Dec 07, 2011

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