Cheryl Keaney: Sleep, exercise, diet can help slow sands of time - Port Huron Times Herald

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How old do you feel?

Do you feel much older than your actual age?

We're all aging. Like the sand in an hourglass, we only have so much time. Our sand is trickling down bit by bit.

How you live your life not only will determine how fast you use up your sand, but how you feel on a daily basis.

For the most part, we're all given a fairly equal amount of sand at birth. But a lot of people are using their sand up much more quickly than others, cutting years off of their lives and aging their bodies and minds.

With a healthy lifestyle, you can increase your longevity and -- in a sense -- add sand to your hourglass.


The average person is made up of 70% water. The survival time without water is 48 hours, compared to two weeks without food.

Drinking water is the most important and easiest thing someone can do, but most people fail at getting the necessary amounts for their bodies to function optimally.

The recommended amount is at least 64 ounces a day, or half of your weight in ounces.
So a 180-pound person would need to drink 90 ounces.  

Water is necessary for life and all body functions.

It's needed for energy metabolism, detoxification, digestion, blood pressure, muscle strength and endurance, immune system and kidney function.


They call it the silent

Stress robs you of muscle, sleep and health and ages your body.

Reducing stress and keeping it to a minimum is vital to keeping your body and mind young -- and to you living longer.

One of the best ways to reduce stress is exercise, whether it's weight training, running or yoga.

All are great in their
own way, and all are helpful in reducing stress --keeping your mind and body young.


Studies have shown if you sleep better, it can slow the effects of aging.

This is because your body produces human growth hormone during sleep.

Lack of sleep and decreased levels of this hormone can lead to weight gain, loss of muscle mass, decreased immune function, decreased memory function and insulin resistance (diabetes).

Get some Z-z-z-z's, and put some sand put in your hourglass!


As you age, it becomes more important than ever to give your body the nutrients it needs.

You need protein to build muscles and keep up your metabolism, and fruits
and vegetables for the vitamins and minerals they contain.

Antioxidants also are found in fruits and vegetables (the richer the color, the better), and are helpful in defending our bodies against cellular damage and the aging process.

Essential fats found in nuts and fish also are important for hormone production, metabolism and heart and brain function.


You need to exercise your mind and body. It's true: If you fail to use it, you lose it.

You must strength train to build and maintain muscle and to keep your bones strong.

Keep your heart strong with cardiovascular exercise --walking, running or biking. All that matters is you do something to get your heart pumping and get it stronger.

A strong heart means it beats less, therefore you'll get more miles out of it.

Exercise your mind by playing cards, doing puzzles and reading.

Did you know doing balance exercises, such as those practiced in yoga, help to increase brain function and slow the aging process?

Think about this scenario: A stressed person probably doesn't sleep much.

Because of that, he or she tend to drink an excess of coffee (which dehydrates you).

When someone's tired, they lack the motivation to exercise.

Also, stress and lack of sleep can lead to overindulging in comfort foods that are high in fat and sugar.

So a person isn't exercising, sleeping well, eating healthy or exercising.
It's possible he or she also might be overindulging in alcohol and smoking cigarettes to deal with the stress (very toxic to the body and accelerates aging).

This type of behavior leads to an hourglass with sand emptying out pretty darn quickly. Your hourglass figure probably isn't looking too hot, either.

So, do all you can to help yourself live a longer, happier and healthier life. Keep that sand trickling down as slow as you can.

Cheryl Keaney is a personal trainer and fitness nutrition specialist. Contact her at

18 Sep, 2011

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