Experts reveal the everyday health must-dos that they embrace to keep their well-being humming – and we’re sure they’ll help you, too!
1 Stay Strong
Physiotherapist Sammy Margo is no slouch when it comes to walking the talk. “As a physio, I am aware of how important maintaining a strong body is, but it can be difficult to squeeze in exercise to help keep on top of ‘sarcopenia’ – the usual decline of muscle mass as we age,” says Sammy. “So aside from making sure I get in 10 000 steps a day, I wear leg weights for some of the time while I’m at work to get a bit of lower-limb training in, without having to go to the gym. It helps maintain muscle mass and prevents falls later on in life. I call this ‘future-proofing’.”
Sammy wears 2kg weights on each ankle, but suggests newbies start with 1kg weights for 10 minutes a day while on your feet, gradually increasing to 2kg for two hours daily.
2 Bulk Up
Stress hits us all – even experts like trichologist Anabel Kingsley get the downside of the problem. “After a really stressful period in my life, my hair wasn’t in the best shape,” says Anabel. “The body sees the hair as a nonessential tissue, so often it needs help – especially when you’re run-down. I started taking a vitamin formula for hair and added 10 000mg of biotin – a great nutrient for hair and nails – every day.”
Anabel found that three months on… “They’ve done wonders for the thickness of my hair and strength of my nails. I also eat two eggs every morning – they’re the perfect protein, essential for great hair!”
3 Exhale Stress
We all breathe, but do it right and it can help ease stress, fatigue and more. Breathwork coach Rebecca Dennis says: “We can’t always control what is happening around us, but we can control how it affects us physically and emotionally. Breathwork keeps me energised, inspired, centred and calm – and it’s so simple.” Try Rebecca’s breathing exercise: Conscious connected breathing…
- Prop yourself up with pillows on the bed, with your chest higher than your legs. Make sure you’re comfy and your head is supported.
- Place your hands on your lower stomach – just below the navel. Relax your jaw, open your mouth wide and take a deep breath in (the belly should rise) and exhale with a quick sigh.
- Stay present with your breathing. The inhale should be twice as long as the exhale, and is quiet and relaxed. Keep the breath connected, with no pauses, coming in and out like a wave.
- Repeat for one to two minutes, noticing any physical sensations in the body. Rest for one minute while returning to normal breathing.
4 Speed Up
Any experts hedge their bets when it comes to giving advice, but not research herbalist Monica Wilde. “Basically, I couldn’t live without taking seaweed!” says Monica. “It keeps the old batteries charged.” It’s the iodine in seaweed that’s key. “Iodine insufficiency has a huge knock-on effect on our metabolic rate – the speed at which our body’s chemistry runs. That rate affects all our body’s processes, from how quickly we burn kilojoules to how fast sperm swims,” explains Monica. “If I forget my daily dose for a while, everything slows down, then I remember to take it and it all speeds up!”
Monica takes: ½tsp powdered seaweed a day. “I notice it most in my energy levels, ability to control my weight and keep warm, skin and hair dryness, and mood.” Try Nature’s Choice Kelp Powder, R29 for 120g; or Viridian Kelp 600mg, R340 for 90 capsules, both Faithful to Nature.
5 Stay Balanced
The smartest stay-younger move you can make is to retain your balance. “Balance makes all the difference in life,” says physiotherapist Sally Roberts. “I want my body to have such a well-trained memory that I can easily maintain my balance into my nineties!”
Sally slots in a balancing exercise every day: “Usually, while I’m cleaning my teeth or on the phone.” Try this…
- Stand up straight and lift one foot off the floor. See how long you can retain your balance without toppling over. Remember the time and switch legs.
- Try balancing for 90 seconds on each leg. Don’t stress if you can’t do it at first, or if one leg is stronger than the other.
- Repeat daily and reap the benefits!
Challenge yourself further by doing this exercise on a Bosu/Dynaso Ball, R1100, MiFitness.
6 Look Younger
Don’t you love it when people think you’re younger than you are? Homeopath Margo Marrone has an uber-easy move for younger-looking skin. “Recently, a friend asked me why my hands looked so good,” says Margo. “Easy! My secret is skin brushing – it’s simple, but makes a big difference. It detoxes, exfoliates, moisturises, and gives the skin an incredible glow.”
Margo uses a soft brush to work the magic. “Towel dry after a bath or shower, then add a few drops of body oil to your skin brush. Start at the feet and brush upwards in a circular motion towards the heart.” Find good-quality body massagers at Clicks; Bamboo Body Massager, R59,99, Clicks.
7 Calm Your Stomach
Phew! Gut-soothers get cult status fast. Currently, it’s fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi, and nutritionist Nina Sabat has found her must-take. “My digestion and elimination has always been slow,” says Nina. “It’s why kefir grabbed my attention – a 2014 Turkey-based study linked daily intake with a faster transit time and less reliance on laxatives. I started by trying cow’s-milk kefir at breakfast and a side of sauerkraut at lunch. Too much, too soon! For days I had a painfully bloated stomach. So I cut the sauerkraut and gave kefir a second chance. I felt more comfortable at once.”
Nina says: “I drink 125ml of kefir a day. My digestion has improved and my stomach feels calmer.” Try Crafty Cultures Make Your Own Milk Kefir at Home, R250.
8 Find Energy
We’re still in love with all things superfood, and well-being experts love the way they give a big energy kick!
Herbalist Tipper Lewis has a blend she uses to fight fatigue. “I love my job, but it’s nonstop and energy can drain away,” she explains. “My trick is a daily breakfast smoothie based on superfoods.” Tipper blends: 1tsp each maca and ashwagandha powders, 250ml oat milk, 1tbsp oats, a handful of berries and 1 banana.
Try Good Life Organic Ashwagandha Root Powder, R131,95 for 200g; and Nutri Life Raw Maca Powder, R384,95 for 200g, both Wellness Warehouse.
9 Beat the Bugs
We’re taking vitamins of all kinds to hike up our immunity, but aromatherapist Glenda Taylor has a great move for free!
“For about a year now, I’ve been turning my shower to cold before I get out,” says Glenda. “At first, I used to sit on the bed shivering. Now, it makes me feel stronger and more awake, plus it seems to regulate my temperature. It’s said to keep aches, pains and viruses at bay and, indeed, I haven’t had any colds or flu this year!”
Glenda stands under the cold for 30 seconds after every shower: “No thinking, just do it! It’s fantastic!”
Words Lynn Cardy. Additional words Jade Crocket