I can’t believe it’s been nearly a decade since my first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, at a time when health advocacy was barely a second thought and cellular devices were just big, awkward gadgets, not permanent distractions. Some 10 years later, I love all the pro-wellness messages I see everywhere, but I’m also very aware of the way technology is altering our health — and not always in a good way. Just the other day, for example, I saw two couples out for lunch, all opting out of healthy conversation with each other to bury themselves in their mobile devices.
When I think about what health advice I might share 10 years from now, I can only hope that we’ll figure out a better way to balance the benefits of technology with our overall need for improved health. That said, why wait until 2023 to apply these tips to your life? They’re just as helpful right now.
1. Don’t let robots so all your chores
From high-capacity dishwashers to self-operating vacuums and floor cleaners, appliances now let us get chores done on autopilot. I can only assume this trend will continue, essentially robbing us of the extra exercise and calorie burning that comes with housework — exercise we often don’t even realize we’re getting. I’m all for making chores easier, but in 2023 it’ll be even more important to incorporate movement into our lives. In recent years, scientists have identified “sitting disease,” resulting from our chronic inactivity. Un-sit yourself now by committing to a 10-minute fitness routine. [Psst . . . If you have an iPad, you can download Chatelaine’s new 10-minute-workout fitness app.] Even quick hits of exercise can have profound effects on the body, hours after you finish.
2. Give your eyes a break
Not too long ago each household had one screen: the TV. These days, we’ve got cellphones, laptops, GPS devices, digital alarm clocks — even some remote controls have their own screens. All those screens put added demand on our precious eyes. I recommend the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take your eyes off the screen and look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. And snack on eye-invigorating, lutein-rich foods such as spinach, kale, turnip greens and brussels sprouts.
3. Dig up your grandmother’s recipes
When was the last time you looked at an old cookbook and saw butylated hydroxyanisole, evaporated cane syrup or yellow no. 5 listed in a recipe? Our desire for convenience will continue to fuel the invention of more processed foods, but remember, our ancestors (and when I say that, I’m referring to our grandparents) thrived on whole, natural foods. I can only hope food movements that emphasize eating local, unprocessed and ecologically friendly foods will also expand as our concerns about human-caused environmental impact become more clear. Ten years from now, it will be even more important to cook meals from scratch.’
4. Take pressure off your blood pressure
I hate to say it, but unless more people heed this advice, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure rates will keep skyrocketing. The consequences are frightening, but we can make a difference if we focus on prevention now: Start by eating more foods that are known to lower blood pressure, like gazpacho, beetroot juice and even hibiscus tea. Or heed the advice of U.S. heart health advocates, who recently reported on the power of plyometric hand exercises (squeezing movements) for lowering blood pressure.
5. Seek silence to de-stress your heart
Canada’s population is likely to grow between now and 2023, which translates into more crowds and noise. What alarms me about this is that new studies show noise pollution may contribute to heart-related disease. Chronic loud noise can increase stress hormones, such as cortisol, noradrenaline and adrenaline. But fortunately, in this case you can use technology to your advantage: Play a soothing white noise app on your phone. Or do like our ancestors and seek out silence by finding a quiet place to close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes each day, to help quiet your body’s stress response.
Follow the jump for more health tips from Dr. Oz.