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Listen

Listen
Terry Doyle

Listening to relaxing music before surgery was more effective at reducing anxiety than a sedative medication, a French study showed.

Grip

Grip
Reader's Digest

Grip strength was the best predictor of how well a group of more than 6000 men aged 45 to 68 would avoid being incapacitated later in life, a 25-year study found. The weakest-gripping men suffered twice the disabilities of men with hands of steel. In another study of nearly 140,000 men and women, poor grip strength correlated with a higher incidence of death, especially from cardiovascular disease.

Dance

Dance
Terry Doyle

Dancing reduces the risk of dementia more than any other type of physical activity, according to a study by New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Why? Learning new steps improves intellectual fitness, and if you dance with a group or a partner, you’re being social.

Breakfast

Breakfast
Reader's Digest

Harvard University scientists tracked more than 367,000 older adults for an average of 14 years and found that those who ate the most cereal fibre had a 19 per cent lower risk of death from any cause than those who ate the least. Most notably, people who ate the most cereal fibre were 34 per cent less likely to die from diabetes. Cereal fibre is found in cereal, wholegrain bread, barley and bran.

Surf

Surf
Reader's Digest

Those who carried out a series of web searches showed increased activity in regions of the brain that control reading, language, memory and visual ability, a small study of people aged 55 to 76 revealed. Regular web surfers showed a significant boost in the areas that deal with decision making and complex reasoning.

Read

Read
Reader's Digest

Researchers in Britain asked participants who were feeling stressed to engage in various activities, including reading, listening to music, having a cup of tea and taking a walk. Reading reduced stress levels and heart rates by 68 per cent, the highest score of any item on the list. The least effective was playing video games.

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Adapt

Adapt
Reader's Digest

One lesson from Hamlet: learn to weather “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” if you want to live to a ripe old age. A Harvard study came to the same conclusion: fewer than two per cent of men who were observed exhibiting ‘psychological hardiness’ – mental resilience in the face of stress, anxiety and depression – died before they were 53. In the less resilient group, 37 per cent died by that age.

Socialise

Socialise
Reader's Digest

Lonely people have a 14 per cent greater risk of dying than the average person, and twice the death risk associated with obesity. A University of North Carolina study specifically found that social isolation increases hypertension even more than diabetes does. Related research links loneliness to a weakened immune system and higher risk of heart attack, stroke and depression.

Onions

Onions
Reader's Digest

Older women who ate onions every day had five per cent greater bone density than those who ate them once a month or less, according to researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina. They also decreased their risk of a hip fracture by more than 20 per cent.

Belt

Belt
Reader's Digest

It may sound illogical, but if you have a less-than-flat tummy, your best tactic is to have a belt cut across it – not too high (looks old), not too low (sloppy), but smack through the middle. “It creates a shorter torso and a longer leg line,” explains Stacy London, who co-hosted US make-over show What Not to Wear, “which makes you look taller and leaner.”

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