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General Articles

How to keep a SPRING in your step

By Judy Churchill

March heralds the arrival of Spring, warmer weather, nature bursting into life, an increase in outdoor pursuits and an all-round more positive outlook on life as the days get longer and lighter. People start to think about new beginnings and spring cleaning their lives as well as their homes. As most people are interested in how to improve their health and well-being so that they can enjoy the life they have ahead of them, I thought we’d take a look this month at how we can stay sprightlier for longer. There is much talk about healthy aging and it’s true that there’s not much point in living to a ripe old age if that means living through years of pain and discomfort. So how can we live longer and healthier?

I’ve been taking a look at the recent global research in this area and this month I’m sharing my findings with you. Here is what the experts say:

  • Having a positive attitude towards aging counts: According to a Yale University study just published, if you carry a gene variant linked to dementia and have a positive attitude towards aging, you are 50% less likely to develop the disorder than pessimistic, fearful people who carry the same gene.

  • Where you live counts: major cities come out top in the ranking – they have good health systems, opportunities for keeping your brain active with learning opportunities, good public transport systems, art and culture and opportunities for networking and socialising; all major factors in keeping people living longer, healthier lives. Monaco certainly ticks all the boxes.

  • Personal relationships count: strong friendships carry the highest positive health link, even more so than strong family ties. Friends are associated with happiness and better health and there are more opportunities for creating friendships in towns, where you can ‘bump into’ people, than in isolated, rural communities.

  • Passion and engagement counts: if you are passionate about whatever it is you do and are truly engaged in your activities, you will increase your chances of a healthy life over those who are lethargic, and apathetic.

  • Exercise really counts: regular exercise is best, alternating between rigorous and softer activities with the most positive benefits accumulating with outdoor exercise. Even adding a small amount to your daily routine will be beneficial. Doctors say that that increasing your physical activity will improve your endurance, increase your muscle strength and balance and help prevent serious falls. And as all athletes know, exercise provides huge, positive, psychological added value with the release of endorphins, giving you a natural high, improving concentration and productivity and keeping you cheerful. Statistics show that with just 15 minutes exercise per day (a brisk walk) you can lower your chances of an early death by 20%. Even exercise just twice a week can lower the risk of premature death. In our region there’s really no excuse with hiking figuring high on doctors’ recommended activities (see below).

  • Healthy eating counts: moderation is the key. Don’t skip breakfast! Those people who eat a good hearty breakfast live longer and better. Fluctuating diets are high on the list of dangerous habits and the recommendation is to simply stay within a healthy weight range for your size. Research suggests that a Mediterranean diet full of fruits and vegetables is the best combination and can reduce inflammation in the body and brain. The Riviera therefore is the perfect place to live for this.

  • Moderate consumption of alcohol is ok: Studies now show that moderate and light alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of death compared to people who don’t drink at all.

  • Sex counts: staying sexually active is linked to both life satisfaction and longer life. Studies show that that men with a higher frequency of orgasm had a 50% reduced risk of mortality. Figures are lower for women but encouraging all the same and for older women sex appears to have a cardiovascular protective effect. Intimacy is just as important in older adults with the focus being more on pleasure.

  • Ice cold water counts: Rejoice with the recent snow and drop in temperature! Ice baths are becoming all the rage and are increasingly popular as a way of curing all sorts of aches and pains and kick starting the immune system. Swimming has always been one of the best body workouts but research shows than swimming in cold water has incredible effects on the body with people reporting cures from back pain, improved blood circulation, healing of broken bones, relief from chronic nerve pain and depression. Athletes and dancers have used ice baths for years to cure fatigue, prevent inflammation and injuries and speed recovery. As a beauty treatment for skin it’s priceless - ask Daniele de Winter, she takes an icy plunge in the sea every morning and swears by it. However, Doctors recommend doing this activity very progressively to acclimatise the body day by day to avoid any negative side effects such as hypothermia.

  • Learning a foreign language counts: research shows that one of the best ways of keeping your mind alert and active and delaying the on-set of dementia is to take up the challenge of learning a foreign language. This will not only keep your memory in top shape but will exercise all parts of your brain – a full brain workout akin to a full body workout.

  • The Blue zones count: the longest and healthiest living people in the world come from what are known as the blue zones. So, if you’re looking to relocate then consider:

Sardinia, Italy; Okinawa, Japan; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Loma Linda, California, USA; and Ikaria, Greece. If you’d rather stay put and are looking for ways to ‘spring’ into action, then take a look at my Happy Hiker series in for where to go hiking on the Riviera. Doctors in Monaco are recommending hiking as the number one activity for leading a happier, healthier life for longer!

Judy is based in Monaco and specialises in transformational coaching working with both individuals and companies. 

Judy is also a qualified language teacher/trainer for adults and children in French, English and Spanish.

If you would like to receive coaching, communication skills training, language tutoring or certified translating from Judy, you can contact her or via Facebook messenger and

Wednesday, 28 February 2018    Section: General Articles
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