Staying Mobile Into Old Age

Mobility is something you need to maintain as you age. Failing to focus on your mobility and to take action to sustain it means increasing discomfort and limiting independence. While regaining mobility after significant losses is challenging, you can do it, and focusing on healthy habits before losing mobility can mean you reduce the amount of decline you experience.

Staying Active To Maintain Mobility

While there is little to be done to negate natural decline, there is a lot you can do to minimize the effects. Human biology is not designed for prolonged athleticism. Your body takes on a use-it-or-lose-it approach to function as you age, meaning you need to use it to prolong mobility.

One thing many seniors overestimate is how much physical activity is necessary to repair mobility or maintain it. Experts suggest that seniors receive at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, including walking. Additionally, you do not have to perform that 30 minutes consecutively. You can do 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 in the afternoon or evening.

The best way to fight decline is to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Get outside and walk. Go to the grocery store. If you can, take a yoga class. Stay active to stay healthy.

Visiting Your Doctor Shouldn’t Become Optional

Many people hate going to the doctor; the feeling can stem from a fear or anxiety issue. Visiting your doctor is one of those things that you should want to do. Granted, many people have bad memories about hospitals and doctors’ offices, but in the grand scheme, a physician is there to help improve your health and prevent future problems.

People who routinely visit with their doctors experience less preventable health disorders because these problems are typically caught early. Additionally, from a mobility standpoint, your doctor can address mobility issues early, potentially slowing or preventing significant decline.

Additionally, if you have been living a sedentary life for many years, you should speak to your physician before starting any program. Getting into a fitness regimen that your body is not ready for can do more damage than good. So, talk to a professional about where you should be starting.

Balancing and Bodyweight Exercises Might Be the Best Options

As people age, their balance tends to fade. Many seniors get into life-threatening situations because they become off-balance and fall. While medical alert devices can help and do provide life-saving services, it is best to avoid falling altogether.

Balancing and bodyweight exercises can help seniors maintain mobility, control, and confidence in their movements. Yoga, Pilates, and other activities are excellent forms of low-impact exercises that help older individuals maintain flexibility and mobility.

Finding Support and Motivation

Exercise is a challenge for anyone at any age. The primary difficulty is committing to the activity, so finding support through groups, family, or friends is often the best motivation. If you do not have family close by to support your newfound life goals, consider looking into senior centers in your area, many will offer exercise classes and groups.

Maintaining your mobility as you age should be a priority, and it essentially comes down to remaining active and healthy. Keep in touch with your doctor, find local groups, and focus on mental and physical wellness.

What are your best tips for maintaining mobility as you age? Leave a comment below.

Overcoming Your Fear of the Weight Section at the Gym for a Healthier Stronger You

Walking into a gym is often intimidating, especially for a newb. To a beginner, there is nothing more frightening than the weight section, the place where all the muscled-up bods are flexing and grunting away, showing off their skill and physique. While this section of the gym can seem intimidating, it is also where you get lean and build muscle mass. In other words, it is the area of the gym that provides the most advantage to getting in the shape you want.

The weights section is not reserved for people with 0% body fat or who could win a Mr. or Ms. Universe pageant. It is an area for all gym members. Instead of fearing the section, embrace its potential. To embrace it, though, you need to understand where the fear comes from. For most people, the fear stems from believing they don’t belong or will make a mistake.

First, you absolutely belong; a gym is a space for all genders and body types. Second, you will probably do something wrong, but nothing bad is going to happen. You can’t expect to get everything right when trying something new. However, to help you minimize risks and optimize your odds of success, follow the straightforward four-step plan for overcoming your fear of the weight room.

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The key to squashing your fear is to remember that everyone started where you are now. Sure, they might look like professionals now, but think about where they were years ago. Additionally, despite the intimidating physiques, most people at the gym are friendly and willing to lend a hand to a fellow member in need.

If you are unsure how to do an exercise or which exercise is best for legs, chest, back, or whatever, ask someone in the weights area. Most people will happily offer advice. However, even if the first person you ask is not that friendly, try the next. No harm will come to you, promise.

2. YouTube Is Good for More Than Cat Videos

If you want to get serious about lifting weights, check out YouTube for instructional videos. Many channels are dedicated to beginners, showing the proper form and techniques of several popular free-weight exercises. Many YouTube instructors will even talk about variations of specific exercises so you can focus on building the fundamentals before getting into heavyweights. However, make sure you check out the person’s qualifications to avoid bad advice.

3. Work With a Trainer

A personal trainer is an investment. Some people cannot afford a trainer right away, or they can’t justify the expense. However, when you can afford one, it is money well-spent. A trainer or teacher can help you develop a comfort level with the weight room. They will also help you design a routine for your body and capabilities. Remember, you do not have to keep a trainer forever; it is a temporary expense.

4. Remember, Your Experience Is a Shared Experience

Every bodybuilder, weightlifter, or average lean Joe started where you are starting. You cannot build muscle and a healthy exercise habit without embracing the weight room. Instead of shying away from the weights, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you belong. Sometimes, a bit of self-motivation can go a long way.

The weight room is an intimidating place for most newbies, but you can get over your fear with practice, preparation, and knowledge. How did you overcome your fear of the weight room? Leave a comment.

The Health Benefits of Speed-walking: Why You Should Try It

Speed-walking or racewalking is an Olympic sport. This year, it is gaining some attention as Mexico continues to show its power as a competitor and champion in the endurance activity. While you might not follow the Olympics and might not care who is the reigning speed-walking champion, you might be interested in the health benefits from the activity. Speed-walking is a low-impact, moderate aerobic activity that can improve overall health and mobility. Additionally, it can benefit weight loss goals.

Why Speed-Walking Is Healthy

Although the activity is associated with intense cardio, speed-walking is likely more related to moderate levels of oxygen and blood flow. That means it can help with circulation, allowing your heart to beat at a slower pace and helping you avoid the shortness of breath that can be common with vigorous cardio workouts.

As opposed to high-intensity cardio workouts, speed-walking offers lower levels of oxygen intake that help the heart and blood vessels do their jobs. The low intensity of the exercise means you can sustain the activity for a longer period without becoming winded or fatigued. Therefore, speed-walking ultimately provides a longer duration exercise at sustained levels, which is beneficial to weight loss, balance, and mobility.

How Does Speed-Walking Compare to Other Exercises?

Categorized in the same class of low-impact aerobic activities like walking, jogging, and running, speed-walking is an interval-type workout that can help you build strength and endurance in your muscles, work on your balance, improve your mood, and improve your sleep. In addition, it can help you burn calories and reduce stress.

While speed-walking is an easy and enjoyable exercise for any age and fitness level, you should still be cautious and do the proper research, ensuring you are physically ready for the activity. Like a long-distance run, speed-walking can help build stamina and endurance but can also lead to injuries if you are not properly trained and are not mindful of your body. Before starting any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor to determine if it is a good fit.

The Benefits of Speed-Walking

There are many benefits to this physical activity, and it does not need to take up a lot of time to reap the rewards: 30 minutes per day or 150 minutes per week. While the exercise is an endurance workout, it has several benefits beyond stamina. Researchers have found that speed-walking can reduce the risks associated with osteoarthritis and osteoporosis by strengthening the bones and muscles in the legs. Additionally, walking has been shown to boost heart rate and increase blood flow to muscles, aiding in cardiovascular fitness. Walking can also improve insulin sensitivity and aid weight loss efforts.

Speed-walking might be experiencing some added interest from Olympic coverage, but it will always be an efficient form of exercise. The simple truth is that walking is more accessible than running, and it is less dreaded than other forms of aerobic activity. If you are interested in burning calories and improving cardiovascular health while increasing your stamina, speed-walking is for you.

What are some other unique exercises you have heard of and want to try? Leave a comment below.

Exercise Your Way to a Healthier Immune System!

Exercising is good for your heart, your muscles and your mood. Did you know it’s also amazing for your immune system? Recently, scientists discovered that working out boosts your defenses against infections.

Why Is Exercise Important for a Strong Immune System?

There are several reasons why exercise is good for your immune system. When you put them all together, you feel happy, healthy and energized.

1. Physical Activity Reduces Stress Levels

Anxiety weakens your immune system. When you’re not sleeping at night and you feel stressed all day, your body is vulnerable to illness. Exercise to the rescue! Any kind of physical activity can lower stress hormones and get your immune system back on track. Even something as simple as getting some fresh air and going for a walk helps!

2. Exercise Strengthens Your White Blood Cells

White blood cells are the most important part of a healthy immune system. They detect and destroy viruses, bacteria and toxins. When you exercise, your body produces more white blood cells and it speeds up your blood circulation so these defenders act quickly. When your immune system catches harmful invaders right away, you don’t get sick.

3. Working Out Gives You a Mini Fever

Viruses don’t like it hot. That’s why your body triggers a fever when you have an infection: it kills off the invaders. Exercise has a similar effect. As your heart rate increases, so does your core body temperature. That may help destroy viruses before they have a chance to attack.

4. Staying Active Alleviates Inflammation

Regular exercise can lower inflammation all around your body — from sore muscles to tender joints. When your body is fighting a war against chronic inflammation, it has to use a lot of “soldiers.” That can leave your body’s defenses wide open for invaders. By reducing inflammation, exercise lets your immune system deploy “troops” to protect you against viruses instead.

The science doesn’t lie! According to one study, people who exercise at least three times a week are 25% less likely to get a cold.

What Are the Best Exercises for Your Immune System?

The goal with exercise is to boost your heart rate and strengthen your muscles. I like to do a blend of cardio workouts and whole-body strength training.

Excellent Cardio Exercises

What I love about cardio is that it gives you a chance to recharge emotionally while you’re increasing your heart rate. If you have the chance, do these exercises outdoors and watch the stress melt away (and fat, too)!

  • Brisk walking

  • Jogging

  • Mountain biking

  • Cycling

  • Swimming

  • Jumping rope

  • Fitness dancing (like Zumba)

My Favorite Strength Training

These are some simple exercises anyone can do at home. Buying a resistance band or free weights isn’t necessary, but they do help with your results. For an extra boost to your strength training exercises, hold each position for a few seconds:

  • Squats

  • Lunges

  • Push-ups

  • Planks (like push-ups but holding the position using your elbows)

  • Arm raises

  • Leg raises

  • Side leg raises

You should feel the burn, but you don’t want pain. If lunges make your knees hurt, for example, do leg raises on your back instead.

How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Any level of physical activity has benefits for your immune system, but you should aim for moderate- or high-intensity exercises. Start by exercising for 15–30 minutes, three to five days a week. This slims your tummy and helps your body feel great at the same time!

The Fitness and Diet Routine of Jennifer Lopez: Motivation for Everyone, Especially Mature Women

Jennifer Lopez is an icon and a natural beauty. It is hard to believe that this mother of two is 52 years old and still rocking a six-pack. How does she find the time to balance her unbelievably busy schedule with exercise and a healthy diet when most people struggle to do one or the other? If you ask her and her trainers, it is a matter of dedication and perseverance — it also doesn’t hurt having access to some of the best personal trainers in the business.

Still, getting healthy and fit is attainable, but it requires discipline. Jennifer's routine and diet plan is something worth examining, but you also need to remember her routine is not your routine. It is an advanced fitness and health regimen designed for a world-class performer and entertainer. Do not beat yourself up if you find her routine unrealistic for your life and current fitness level.

Jennifer’s Exercise Routine

When it comes to exercise, J. Lo works out four to five days per week. Each workout day incorporates about an hour of her time, and it focuses on different body parts each session.

For session one, J. Lo might focus on abs. She’ll perform three sets of a combination of ab workouts:

  • 50 Rope crunches

  • 50 Hanging ab raises

  • 50 incline sit-ups with a 45-pound plate

In sets two and three, J. Lo performs fewer reps. Set two includes 35 reps and set three is 21.

Session two will include several lower body exercises. Some of the performers favorite go-to exercises include:

  • Supported lunges

  • Weighted leg presses

  • Single dumbbell sumo squats

  • Weighted hip thrusts into calf raises

  • Single leg extensions into weighted leg curls

  • Platypus walk

Finally, session three focuses on arms. Unfortunately, there is not much information on her arm workout, but her trainer has explained that Spiderman push-ups have been a part of her routine in the past.

J. Lo’s Diet

While J. Lo’s workout routine might seem overwhelming, her diet is also fairly strict. Her diet is built on high protein and fresh, whole foods. Her diet is nutrient-dense and does not leave a lot of room for treats. However, she does allow herself a cheat day once per week.

There are times when the star’s diet is hyper-regimented. When she is being super strict, she does not allow herself to eat sugar. She also avoids caffeine and alcohol, choosing to drink lots and lots of water instead.

Should You Try Jennifer Lopez’s Diet?

While everyone should strive to be as committed to health and fitness as J. Lo, her specific routine is not for everyone. If you are just starting your fitness journey, focus on the basics before diving into rigorous and demanding exercises.

One of the problems with jumping right into a celebrity routine is that you might not be ready for such a commitment, which can be counterproductive. Part of getting fit and staying healthy is staying motivated. If you try to join a routine that is too advanced, you might become discouraged.

Instead of focusing on celebrity routines, consider focusing on the basics of nutrition and making small life changes. By building habits over time, you are more likely to stay committed to healthy changes.

With all that said, if you feel up to a challenge and your doctor believes it is safe, go ahead and give J. Lo’s routine a shot. Keep in mind that J. Lo’s body is a result of years of dedication, and it will take time for you to see positive results from a similar workout.

What do you think? Will you give Jennifer Lopez’s routine a try, or will you start with something more manageable? Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.

6 Amazing Places on Your Body That Can Relieve Stress

According to traditional Chinese medicine, certain pressure points help restore balance to the body's natural energy flow. In the West, health professionals think that these points may alleviate muscle tension and tell your brain to release endorphins, natural feel-good hormones that help with pain and stress. Here's how to find them.

1. Your Temples (Taiyang)

Many people automatically massage their temples when their head throbs. This point is also used in alternative medicine for helping with anxiety and relieving tension headaches.

Press your index and middle finger gently against one of your temples. Slowly breathe in and out while rubbing this point in a circular direction for 10–15 seconds. At the end, hold your fingers in the center of the temples for a minute and slowly release.

2. The Middle of Your Chest (Shanzhong)

This stress-relieving point is in the middle of your sternum, or breastbone. Both men and women can find it by tracing a line directly from the nipples to the center of the chest.

Use three fingers to press and hold this point. Use firm-but-gentle pressure, taking care not to bruise. Hold this point for three minutes and breathe deeply the whole time.

3. Your Foot Arch (Yong Quan)

In traditional Chinese medicine, this point is called Bubbling Spring. It’s in the middle of the sole of your foot, near the base of your big toe. Put your thumb right where the foot arch begins, about one-third down from the toes and two-thirds of the way up from your heel.

Apply firm pressure and gently move your thumb in a circular motion. This point is believed to provide calming effects and help with blurry vision and dizziness.

4. Between Your Eyebrows (Yintang)

Finding this point is easier if you look in the mirror. It’s located directly between your two eyebrows. Hold this point or massage in a circular motion for 3–5 minutes.

Yintang can calm you down when you’re feeling irritable or worried. It’s also commonly used to help with pain.

5. Your Forearm (Neiguan)

This is one of the most used pressure points for stress. It’s located on your forearm, on the outside of the wrist. Measure about three finger widths from your wrist, tracing a point down from the largest tendon. Neiguan is between the two large tendons.

Gently breathe and hold this pressure point with your thumb for several minutes. Take 10 deep breaths as you move your thumb in a circular motion. This pressure point is easy for anyone to master (it’s one of my favorites), so don’t be surprised if you use it a lot.

6. Between the Thumb and Index Finger (Hegu)

Another easy pressure point to master, Hegu is one many people have heard of but get wrong. You can find it in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, but to get relief you need to reach a little further down, to the point right in front of where you feel the bones meet. Hold this point for three minutes.

The best way to find out which pressure points help you personally is to try them! It only takes about 10 minutes and you can keep track of the ones that give you the most stress relief. To boost the effect, give these points a gentle massage while listening to calming music or relaxing with positive scents.

Amplify your fitness routine with these 7 free apps

If you're like me, your smartphone serves as your source of news, your morning wake-up call, and your connection to friends and loved ones. With these seven amazing free apps, your device can also become your guide as you embark on your fitness journey.

Strava

Those who jog, swim or bike can find the motivation to push workouts to the next level with this competitive app. Strava uses GPS to track your route, speed and distance and analyzes your performance for each segment of your course. You can compare each workout to your history to see your progress or compete against friends on the app. Strava gets high marks from new users and serious trainers alike.

All-Out Studio App

With this free app, you can access hundreds of exclusive workouts from sources such as Prevention Magazine, Runner's World and Women's Health. All-Out Studio App allows you to sort by skill level with instruction from professional trainers. Learn new strategies and techniques whether you're a novice or simply looking to shake up your routine. 

Map My Run

Despite the name, you don't have to be a runner to take advantage of the features of this highly-rated app. With Map My Run, previously known as Map My Fitness, you can log more than 600 different types of physical exercises from cross-training to cycling and beyond. Robust data import and analysis features connect with more than 400 different devices, so chances are it supports your smartwatch of choice.

My Fitness Pal

If you want to keep track of both diet and physical activity, My Fitness Pal can help you organize your data in one easy-to-use interface. You can stream more than 350 different workouts and log more than 11 million food items, as well as create and track your progress toward custom fitness goals. You can integrate My Fitness Pal with dozens of other apps and devices. It even allows you to log meals at your favorite restaurants! Set a goal to lose, gain or maintain your weight and then take advantage of the available tools for success. You'll see why this choice has more than a million positive reviews on Apple's App Store.

7 Minute Workout

Do you feel like you never have time to squeeze in a workout? This ingenious app by Johnson & Johnson circuit programs that last just seven minutes and range from high to low intensity depending on your preference and goals. The workouts have been developed and tested by exercise physiologists to thoroughly work each of your muscle groups in the allotted time. With clear instructional videos, 7 Minute Workout is a smart choice for exercise beginners

Charity Miles

If you run, walk or bike, you can feel even better about your workouts when you use the Charity Miles app. Every time you log a workout, the app makes a donation to the charitable organization of your choice, with options such as St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the Wounded Warrior Project. You can also create your own pledge drives to raise even more money for a worthy cause. 

MyZone Workout App

Do you want to keep track of your heart rate during your workouts? If so, strap on your heart-rate enabled smartwatch or monitor and download the MyZone Workout App. You can track the percentage of maximum effort you use during your workout, the number of calories you burn, your beats per minute and other statistics. If you're the competitive type, you can also share your workout data with friends on social media. 

Harness the power of technology when you take these top 2021 workout apps for a spin. 

Maintaining Your Fitness Levels While on Vacation

People tend to view vacations as a time of relaxation, meaning limited activity and stress. Unfortunately, depending on the length of your vacation, your fitness levels can quickly degrade if you ignore exercise and most physical activity. Some reports suggest a decline in aerobic power between 5% and 10% in only three weeks. Additionally, most studies imply the fitter you are, the quicker the reductions can occur. While taking a week off to rest and enjoy might not make much of a difference, you should include some form of exercise to maintain your current fitness levels if you plan on vacationing for longer.

Incorporate Aerobic Exercise Into Your Vacation

Exercise does not have to be torture or consist of miles on a treadmill. You can have fun while incorporating aerobic exercise into your vacation; to demonstrate, consider playing beach volleyball, walking along the shoreline, taking a hike, or going on a leisurely bike ride. People tend to overthink exercise, assuming it has to include strict routines and methods. Still, as long as you can maintain moderate aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes a day, you are good.

A Simple Body Weight Exercise for the Hotel Room

If your hotel has a gym, by all means, take 20 to 30 minutes to do your typical workout. However, if you do not feel like venturing through the lobby in your workout gear, consider doing a simple hotel room workout. The activity relies on body weight, balance, endurance, and your luggage. To increase your heart rate, set a timer for 15 to 20 and see how many circuits you can complete.

You want to start with bodyweight squats. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. With your back straight and your arms fully extended in front of you, squat down slowly into a sumo-like pose. To complete the squat, return to a standing position, keeping your arms in front of you. You will want to do 20 reps before moving onto the next exercise.

Without hesitating, transition into an incline pushup position. Place your hands, palms down, on the edge of the bed or a desk, with your feet on the floor. With your body angled out, approximately 45 degrees, push down then up slowly. Perform 15 reps before moving onto the third exercise.

For the third exercise, grab a piece of luggage. You will be performing one-arm luggage rows. Stand with one leg extended behind you and the opposite leg bent slightly in front. Bend slightly at the waist, keeping your back straight. Whatever leg is extended back, you want to use the same side arm to slowly pick up and then lower the bag, keeping your back straight. Perform 10 reps before moving onto the fourth and final exercise.

For the last exercise, lay flat on the floor with your legs bent, forming a pyramid. Keep your arms extended at your sides with palms on the floor. To perform a reverse crunch, you will use your abs to lift your legs, keeping them bent. Bring your knees above your chest and then bring them back down, being sure to engage your core the entire time. Perform 10 reps to complete the circuit. Then, repeat all four exercises and keep repeating until your timer sounds.

While a vacation is a time to relax, there is no reason you can’t maintain your fitness goals. How do you exercise on vacation? Leave a comment to keep the conversation going.

5 Reasons Restrictive Diets Will Never Work

A restrictive diet is one where you lose weight by giving up certain foods. Sometimes, this is a healthy choice, such as avoiding junk food. But most of these diets tell you to cut out entire food groups, such as carbs. Some force you to carefully measure the amount of calories you take in. The big question is, do restrictive diets work?

Why Don't Restrictive Diets Work?

According to expert nutritionists, any diet that is restrictive is practically doomed to fail from the very beginning. Why?

  1. Old habits: As I think most of know from personal experience, restrictive diets tend to be a temporary thing. No one really wants to eat cabbage soup every day or give up on chocolate for good. After 3–6 months, most people go back to eating how they used to, which adds on all those pounds again.

  2. Cheating: Let’s face it, denying yourself things that taste good is hard work. It feels like you’re punishing yourself. That opens up the door to “cheating,” weekend splurges that undo a whole week’s worth of progress.

  3. Unrealistic expectations: Any diet that sets your caloric intake really low is never going to work long term for most people. When you start to experience extreme hunger, nausea, headaches, dizziness and other symptoms, you’re probably going to give in to what your body is telling you: “I need more energy!”

  4. Changes in metabolism: You can try to fight your body with restrictive diets, but it’s a losing battle. Your metabolism starts to work against you. Burning calories takes longer because your energy production slows down. It’s like your body is saying: “You think you can starve me? Think again!”

  5. Band-Aid “fixes”: Restrictive diets don’t work because they’re superficial. They only focus on food, completely overlooking other causes of weight gain: stress, sleep problems and low activity levels. Ignoring these underlying issues makes weight come back sooner rather than later.

Overall, eating tasty, nutritious foods is good for you. It makes you happy, and it should. This healthy feeling goes against the rules of restrictive diets, so it’s always going to be hard to follow this type of diet.

How Can You Lose Weight for Good?

If you really want to lose weight, you need to focus on making long-term changes, not following short-term fad diets. It’s absolutely possible to stay slim, love your body and feel happy at the same time.:

  • Choose a balanced diet that you can realistically live with: Make sure you have a wide range of healthy options for meals. Then, stick with this type of eating.

  • Eat food that's naturally good for you: Include more fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, probiotics and lean proteins.

  • Get more physical activity: This is one of the biggest keys to long-term weight loss. It’s better to burn up those 2,000–2,500 calories by exercising for 15 minutes a day than to eat an unrealistic 1,000-calorie diet.

  • Drink plenty of water: Many people feel hungry when they’re actually thirsty. Avoid weight gain by drinking a full eight glasses of water a day. That’s good for your kidneys and heart anyway.

  • Use healthy proteins to calm the munchies: The next time you have the munchies, don’t say "no." Say "yes," but eat filling protein instead of junk food. Grab some almonds, pistachios, Greek yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs or smoked salmon.

One diet did work great long term in studies. The Mediterranean diet. It helps you stay slim because it’s focused on heart-healthy, natural foods.

4 Ways To Maintain Good Colon Health

Let’s cut to the chase: It can be awkward — downright embarrassing even — to talk about colon health. No one enjoys discussing such sophisticated topics as fiber intake, constipation or what it’s like to get a colonoscopy.

The thing is, your colon’s health is crucial to your overall well-being. According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most prevalent cancer in the United States. One in 24 women will face a colorectal cancer diagnosis in her lifetime. That number’s not much better for men, either. One in 22 men is diagnosed with this type of cancer.

If that’s not enough motivation to make you long for the healthiest colon this side of the Mississippi, know that your colon is a major player in your digestive system. The better shape it’s in, the better shape your entire body is in. Here’s how to take good care of your colon.

1. Eat Lots of Fiber

You likely know that a diet that’s high in fiber helps you stay “regular.” What you may not realize is that simply keeping things moving down there is one of the best ways to prevent diseases affecting the colon.

Most people should shoot for 25-35 grams of fiber each day. Some of my favorite fiber-rich foods to nosh on include:

  • Whole grain bread
  • Lentils
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli

These are some of fiber’s heaviest hitters. Generally speaking, however, a diet that’s full of virtually any fruits, vegetables and whole grains is a tremendous way to boost your daily fiber intake. What’s more, individuals who eat a healthy, colorful diet tend to weigh less, which also decreases the risk of colorectal disease.

Still not convinced that it’s time to swap out those potato chips for carrot sticks? The antioxidants and nutrients present in most fruits and veggies have been linked to a lower risk of colorectal illness, too.

2. Exercise Regularly

Another great way to move your bowels is to move your body. Whether you take a fitness class at your local gym or simply take regular walks after dinner, that boost to your blood flow and overall circulation helps your digestive tract become more efficient.

3. Drink Up

Is there no limit to the wonders that drinking enough water can do? When it comes to your colon, quenching your thirst helps flush waste and other toxic materials out of your body, lowering your risk of disease.

If you struggle to squeeze your eight glasses of H2O in each day, consider using a water tracking app on your phone or charting it the old-fashioned way with a pen and paper.


4. Don’t Skip That Colonoscopy

Colorectal cancers may be common, but they’re also very treatable if caught early. That’s why regular colonoscopies are crucial to your health.

What constitutes a “regular” colonoscopy depends on your age and various risk factors, which include not only your personal and family history with colorectal cancer but also other digestive issues such as IBS. The average person, for example, should likely have the procedure done once every 10 years, starting at age 50. (If you have a family history of colon cancer, talk with your doctor about how much earlier you should start.) During the procedure, your doc will not only check for signs of cancer but also remove any polyps or other abnormal growths that may develop into cancer or otherwise cause harm if left unchecked.

Being proactive about your colorectal health is critical to your overall health. Sure, it often means having an indelicate chat with your physician, but remember: It’s his or her job to talk about that stuff! More to the point, your doc talks about bowel movements as often as you do Real Housewives and your grandkids. Don’t let the potential for an awkward moment prevent you from taking the best care of yourself that you can.