There is no magic elixir, balm or voodoo treatment that will help you look and
feel younger instantly.
Now, the good news: There are plenty of simple steps you can take that will
improve your health, and your appearance.
We talked to four experts in four areas of health _ exercise, nutrition, sleep
and skin care _ to get practical advice for people who want to make changes
without reinventing the wheel. And here's what they told us:
Brooke Leys-Campeau, who teaches Zumba Gold classes at the Tustin (Calif.) Area
Senior Center, said when she started with the class in September 2011, she took
it easy on her pupils. For many dancers of a certain age, Zumba is a purely
sit-down affair. But Leys-Campeau quickly found that her students were ready to
"They were ready for more," she says.
In her Tuesday morning class, there are 25 or so people of varying ages. One
woman is in her 80s and recovering from a stroke. A man, 65, has lost more than
100 pounds over the past few years, through various activities. Somewhere along
the line, it occurred to Leys-Campeau that the key to exercising is to find
something you like.
"People feel like, 'Oh my gosh, I can't keep the rhythm, I feel like such a
dork.' It's not an audition; it's not a competition. Some people have zero
rhythm and don't dance on beat the entire class, and yet they're smiling and
moving and having a great time."
Leys-Campeau says people should remember their favorite activities from
childhood when considering what kind of fitness activities to pursue: If you
loved to run, join a running group; if you loved baseball or softball, join a
slowpitch or fastpitch league.
There are all kinds of gyms, fitness centers and studios (with varying price
points) you could join, but you should check them out thoroughly, read the fine
print, and if you want to join, wait until the end of the month to get the
maximum best deal.
If you don't like feeling herded into a gym, try a home workout. Leys-Campeau
says resistance tubes and bands can provide just as good a workout as machines
at the gym. "All the exercises you can do with free weights, you can do with
tubes and bands," she says. Most come with instructional DVDs or booklets. It's
important to use them with correct technique to avoid injury.
If you need further help, some personal trainers will come to your home, and you
don't have to purchase a big block of sessions at once. Leys-Campeau has clients
she works with at their homes, where she'll show them a set of exercises, then
come back in a month for a follow-up.
"There are so many different options," she says. "The most important thing is
for people to find something they enjoy, and start out small. The biggest
mistake people make is they go too far too fast, and either injure themselves or
get too sore, and give up."
The bottom line: Your body wants to move, and every little bit helps, so do
something you enjoy.
The American Psychological Association says at least 40 million Americans suffer
from some type of sleep disorder, and surveys show 60 percent of us report
having trouble falling asleep a few nights a week or more.
If you're not getting your seven-to-eight hours a night, you're not alone.
"We think the reasons for that are multiple: It can either be related to the
fact that people are working longer hours, or people are trying to make ends
meet in these difficult economic times," says Dr. Alon Avidan, an associate
professor of neurology at UCLA and director of the school's Sleep Disorders
Whatever the reasons, our own behaviors are responsible for our sleeplessness:
We watch too much TV, play video games or check our phones right before bed.
"All of this makes it often difficult for people to get an appropriate period of
sleep, and therefore the population is sleep-deprived," Avidan says. The result
can be as simple as cognitive or memory problems, or as serious as an increased
long-term risk of weight gain, depression and diabetes.
Avidan's advice: Go to bed about the same time each night; don't nap for more
than 15 to 20 minutes a day; and avoid alcohol and caffeine at night.
Also, if you get too little sleep one night, you can't make up for it by
doubling up the next night; it doesn't work that way. For every one hour of
sleep deprivation, get a full night's sleep. Pull an all-nighter, and you need
several days of regular sleep, Avidan says.
If you're sleepy during the day and snore at night, you probably have
obstructive sleep apnea, in which the airway becomes blocked and the sleeper
wakes up repeatedly. This is a dangerous health condition, and a sleep
specialist should be consulted.
The gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea, Avidan says, remains the CPAP
(continuous positive airway pressure), a machine that pumps a light flow of air
into one's mouth and/or nose to prevent interruption. Many apnea sufferers don't
wear their CPAPs because of discomfort or claustrophobia, but Avidan says
machines are getting lighter, quieter and less intrusive all the time. People
who use them regularly can notice a dramatic improvement in alertness and energy
from getting the proper amount of sleep.
The bottom line: Burning the midnight oil is bad for your health.
Dr. Nancy Silverberg has seen the fads come and go during her 28 years as a
dermatologist in Newport Beach, Calif. But one truth is as certain as the rising
and setting of the sun: That big old golden orb can wreak havoc on your skin,
"A lot of what you talk about as skin aging actually is sun damage," Silverberg
People in sun-blanched climates should wear sunscreen 365 days a year,
Silverberg says. Something with a sun-protection factor (SPF) of 30 should do
for most people. But don't look at only SPF, which covers just ultraviolet B
(UVB) rays, the shorter-wavelength rays that cause sunburn. Longer rays (UVA)
penetrate deeper into the skin and can cause long-term damage; both types of
rays can cause skin cancer.
Buy sunscreen that says "broad spectrum," meaning it protects against UVB and
"I tell patients, 'Unless you're gonna be inside all day and not step a pinkie
toe outside the door, you should have sunscreen.' And the best way to do it is
right in your bathroom, as part of your normal daily routine," Silverberg said.
Any unusual bumps or discolorations that appear and don't go away should be
checked by a dermatologist.
"We recommend people come in at least once a year, especially those fair-skinned
Caucasians who live in sunny areas, and get a skin check," Silverberg said.
Also, as the American Academy of Dermatologists recommends, "check your birthday
suit on your birthday."
If you want to treat age spots, wrinkles or other skin damage, Silverberg says,
there are several treatment options. Her practice, Silverberg Surgical & Medical
Group, does a lot of Botox. Her group also offers wrinkle fillers like Juvederm
There are laser procedures. A common one is fractional CO2 resurfacing. "It
really changes the look of the face," Silverberg says of the carbon-dioxide
laser system that smoothes out wrinkles. "We have husbands who give it to their
wives. Husbands will say, 'What do you want, a nice piece of jewelry?' 'No, this
is what I want.'"
You get the idea that this stuff isn't cheap. The full fractional CO2 treatment
runs $3,500 to $4,000.
Botox treatment can range from $300 to $600, and fillers are about $600 per
syringe. There's also a cheaper laser treatment called Fraxel, which costs about
$900 per session; most patients do three to five, Silverberg said.
Insurance doesn't pay for these treatments, unless something is done to treat a
potentially cancerous area. If a suspicious mole is biopsied, for instance,
insurance or Medicare will pay for it, even if it turns out to be benign,
The bottom line: Caring for your skin isn't just for the well-to-do.
For years we've been told that fat was the enemy of a good diet. But awareness
of high fat and cholesterol intake has been rising steadily, and still obesity
and diabetes remain at alarming levels.
"That doesn't mean bacon is a health food," says Irvine, Calif.-based
nutritionist Denise Canellos. "But what we've found is when people remove
saturated fat from their diets, it really depends on what they replace it with."
If you cut down on meat and eat a bagel instead, you're still getting starch,
which the body breaks down into sugar.
"If you can replace some of that saturated fat with healthy fats, like olive
oils, nuts, avocado, fish and vegetables, you're going to see an incredible
benefit to your health."
Canellos likes cooking with olive and sunflower seed oil, which aren't as
processed as canola oil.
The other big piece of advice Canellos has: Eat more vegetables. "People don't
eat as many vegetables as they think they're eating.
It's very common for people to get to dinner and not having eaten one vegetable
all day, and maybe limited amounts of fruits."
We should also eat more leafy greens, like baby spinach, and less of our beloved
iceberg lettuce, which is much lower in nutritional content. And it's OK to
dollop on some dressing. Same goes for the kids: Any way you can get veggies
down the gullets of kids is OK, even if ranch dressing or cheese are
piggybacking on top.
"If your kids eat only broccoli with cheese on it, give them broccoli with
cheese," Canellos says. "Then slowly cut back."
More advice: Eat more beans, like lentils or black beans, in soups and salads,
because they're a great source of protein and fiber; substitute hummus for onion
dip or mayonnaise on sandwiches; if you want a healthy snack at the office, try
edamame (soybeans), which you can buy pre-cooked and shelled. "And we forget
about the lowly baby carrot," Canellos says. "When they're dipped in hummus, you
get that creaminess of a dip, and the crunchy of the veggies, and that can be
Another great snack is nuts _ especially peanuts, almonds, pistachios, walnuts,
pecans and hazelnuts/filberts. They have good fat in them, which elevates levels
of HDL (or "healthy" cholesterol). Same goes for nut butter: Slather it on
apples, pears or bananas, but if you can buy the reduced-sugar variety, do it.
Not only does it have that good fat, but "it also keeps us full and slows our
digestion," Canellos said.
The bottom line: Eat more vegetables. Fresh are best, but frozen are good, too.
(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
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