Great Ways To Start The Day!

Great Ways To Start The Day!

Welcome back to Age Wise, exploring the science of improving physical health and mental wellness at every stage of life. This week, some good news for morning people:

Older people who consistently rise early, embrace routines and are also active throughout the day do better on tests measuring cognitive skills, and they have fewer symptoms of depression, suggesting they are happier, new research finds.

“There’s something about getting going early, staying active all day and following the same routine each day that seems to be protecting older adults,” said the study’s lead author, Stephen Smagula, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the ​​University of Pittsburgh. “What’s exciting about these findings is that activity patterns are under voluntary control, which means that making intentional changes to one’s daily routine could improve health and wellness.”

You can read the study details inmy story on Medium. But here’s the upshot:

“Many older adults had robust patterns: They get up before 7 a.m. on average, and they keep going; they stay active for 15 hours or so each day,” Smagula said. “They also tend to follow the same pattern day in, day out. Lo and behold, those same adults were happier, less depressed and had better cognitive function than other participants.”

Healthy routinesreduce stress, lift moods, fuel happiness and improve physical health. Maintaining aconsistent bedtimeand wake time promotes longer and sounder sleep, and people who sleep better tend to exercise more, eat better, andeat less, helping themcontrol their weight. “Routines can be powerful tools. They can support cognitive function, boost health and provide meaningful activities and social opportunities,”writesMegan Edgelow, an assistant professor in health sciences at Queen’s University in Canada. “Regular routines can also help people feel like they have control over their daily lives and that they can take positive steps in managing their health.”

While we’re on the subject of rising early: Make sure you go to bed at a regular time, too. That’s been shown to be a cornerstone for good sleep. Oh, and between those two routine behaviors, allow for seven to eight hours of sleep. Because…

Lack of sleep alters the DNA inside stem cells that create your body’s white blood cells, key to the immune system,another new studyfinds. 

The research helps explain why poor sleep is linked to so many diseases. The study was done on humans, who kindly volunteered to sleep 90 minutes less then normal every night for six weeks. What people won’t do for science! A similar companion experiment on mice, by the same researchers, yielded the same results but went further:

So how can you get more sleep and settle into healthy routines? Physical activity is among the keys. You know that, I imagine, but since readers often comment about how their lack of time, old age, chronic pain or other limitations keep them from exercising, I put together aNo-Excuses Guide to Physical Activity. Its theme: If you are able to move, then don’t let time, age, pain, or ability get in your way. Several suggestions aim to eliminate all your excuses. :)

I hope you found this newsletter useful. Your support makes my health reporting and writing possible, so please consider forwarding this to a friend, and I won’t complain if youbuy me a cup of coffee. Meanwhile, I’m busy finishing up my new book, “Make Sleep Your Superpower,” due out coming Nov. 1 (Learn more onmy website).

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