JANUARY doesn’t have to be a time of saying no to things and cutting back – it can be fun, healthy AND involve wine.
Unfortunately, Covid is set to follow us into 2022 . . .
Luckily, Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun’s Jabs Army campaign is helping to get the vital extra vaccines into our arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
So join the club and start your year by getting jabbed.
Fancy testing your self-discipline?
A new American study found that fasting for one day a week could reduce the risk of cardio-vascular disease and diabetes.
One day a week might be just about manageable, especially as the researchers found that the benefits of that one-day fast stuck with participants for the rest of the week.
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It's not just what you eat that can keep your heart healthy, but how you eat.
US research found that women who eat alone have a significantly raised heart disease risk.
Meanwhile, Newcastle University has found that people who cook meals at home have less body fat and a better diet than those who eat out or on the go.
Which means, everyone round for dinner at ours?
Sex can boost your mood, improve your self-esteem, decrease anxiety and burn through calories too.
It’s practically an all-in-one trick for maintaining good physical and mental health.
Sex also triggers the production of endorphins – the body’s chemical messengers that can help to ease chronic pain.
And it’s far more fun than an aspirin . . .
Research by a London health tech firm showed that going to bed between 10pm and 11pm lowers your risk of heart disease.
They found that earlier or later bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock.
Ultra-processed foods such as biscuits, chicken nuggets, instant noodles and shop-bought puddings may taste good, but they raise your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Research in Greece suggests that a diet based on unprocessed whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains and eggs reduces those risks and helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Grin and bear it
Want to live longer? Smile.
A 30-year study published in the US journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences found that optimists live 15 per cent longer than pessimists.
If that’s not something to grin about, we don’t know what is.
A beach break is a real tonic, but just planning a holiday can be good for you too.
Researchers at Washington State University found thinking about an upcoming holiday or break away can boost happiness levels.
Co-author Matthew Killingsworth said: “As humans, we spend a lot of our mental lives living in the future. Our future-mindedness can be a source of joy.”
Loneliness is linked to a 30 per cent increased risk of developing heart disease, and being isolated can be as bad for your health as alcohol abuse and smoking, according to research from Harvard University.
So pick up the phone, meet someone for a drink or just go for a walk – your mates need you, and you need them.
Back to school
Your school days may feel well behind you, but a US study found that middle-aged adults who enrolled at night school significantly improved their memory and gained stronger verbal skills.
Higher education has also been linked to a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
So sign up for that evening class today!
Turn the page
As well as being a great distraction, escaping into a good book can lower stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate, improve brain connectivity, and even protect against cognitive decline as you age.
Reading for the love of it has also been found to boost confidence and self-esteem, and aid sleep.
Hit the library now.
We all know it makes us healthier to take the stairs – and preferably two at a time.
But new research has found tired women who climb stairs actually experience a bigger energy boost than those who use caffeine to pep them up.
It’s cheaper than buying a coffee too.
American author of self-help books and “happiness expert” Dan Buettner says that putting up family pictures connects us to the past and cheers us up.
He said: “We find that in happier cultures around the world, folks feel like part of a continuum.”
So maybe it’s time to get out your grandparents’ wedding pictures and put them up on the wall.
Chores be gone
People who spend money on time-saving services like cleaners have greater satisfaction and happiness than those who spend their cash on stuff they probably don’t need.
If money’s tight and you can’t afford a cleaner, consider swapping tasks with a friend.
Maybe they can hoover for you, and you can spruce up their bathroom – everyone’s a winner.
If you find it hard to eat healthily, your surroundings could be to blame.
A new study has found that when women are surrounded by clutter and chaos, they are more likely to make unhealthy food choices and “unknowingly overeat”.
While all exercise is good for you, the more varied it is, the better, new research claims.
People who do lots of different sports or vary their workouts are more likely to have longer telomeres on the ends of their chromo-somes – a sign that the body is ageing more slowly, and a good indicator of longevity.
Number one fan
We can all be tough on ourselves, but try being your number one fan this year, rather than your harshest critic.
Research from Exeter and Oxford Universities have found that being compassionate towards yourself and opting for self-kindness may reduce heart rate and sweating.
Keen to delay the onset of wrinkles?
Then cancel that appointment for a chemical peel and get your vitamin C levels up with good old oranges instead.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate foods high in vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and less age-related dry skin than those who didn’t.
A warm bath an hour before bed has been found to help people nod off faster and maintain better quality sleep.
Add to the mood by dimming the lights, playing relaxing music and lighting a candle.
Smell is associated with the part of the brain that processes emotion, so it’s worth trying out a few different scents – peppermint can pep you up and vanilla is relaxing.
Watching the latest blockbuster is bound to trigger happy feelings, but engaging in culture can actually lower the risk of depression.
Dr Daisy Fancourt of University College London said: “People know the benefits of exercise for their physical and mental health, but there is very little awareness that cultural activities also have similar benefits.”
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