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Feature Story


All it takes is a few minutes to revolutionize your health.

by Joan Teotico


Is it impossible for you to be healthy because you’re always strapped for time? HealthToday asked experts for five-minute tricks that you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Prevent pre-diabetes

Citing data from the 2008 National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS), Cecilia Jimeno, M.D., vice president of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, says, “[A]pproximately one out of every 10 adult women has pre-diabetes or is at risk of diabetes.” Exercise, diet and stress management are vital in pre-diabetes and diabetes prevention and management. Follow Dr. Jimeno’s food and fitness tips:

Five-minute fixes:

• Do short bursts of vigorous exercise. “It has been proven that [these] short bursts of high-intensity exercise burn calories and improve fitness,” Dr. Jimeno shares. If you don’t have time for a single 30-minute session, she suggests breaking up your routine into five- or 10-minute bursts—cardiovascular, strength training, or a combination of both—spread throughout the day. Better yet, add five minutes to your existing exercise regimen, to clock in the 150 minutes of exercise per week that can prevent or delay diabetes. But if you’re already diabetic or hypertensive, make sure to get clearance from your doctor, cautions Dr. Jimeno.

• Select balanced meals. Dr. Jimeno says every meal should be balanced. Take five minutes to check and select one to two servings of starchy food such as rice, noodles or pasta, and bread; plenty of green leafy vegetables; a serving of fruit; and milk taken either in the morning or evening. Steer clear from fat sources such as meat, cookies and cakes.

• Eat slowly. “Chew food well. If you eat fast, add five or more minutes to your usual time,” suggests Dr. Jimeno. “Eat too quickly, and you’re likely to … overeat.” Slow down and pause between bites. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the satiety signal to reach our brain, she says, adding, “Eating fast has been known to lead to obesity.”

Protect skin from aging

“As we age, our skin's firmness diminishes. So does elasticity. This is due to degradation of collagen and elastin. This happens because of several factors like genetics, stress factor, hormonal imbalance, free radicals and unhealthy lifestyle,” says Evangeline Handog, M.D., F.P.D.S., Chair of the Department of Dermatology at the Asian Hospital and Medical Center.

Five-minute fixes:

• Add five minutes to your morning makeup routine to apply sunscreen, “ideally, 2 mg/cm2, which translates to about a teaspoon of the cream,” says Dr. Handog. She recommends using a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and putting it on at least 30 minutes before heading outdoors.

• Fill up your cup. Drink about 10 glasses of water a day to keep hydrated.

• Slice up some fruit—they’re loaded with antioxidants.

Beat back pain

“High heels will really be one of the most common cause of back pain,” says Reynaldo Rey-Matias, P.T.R.P., M.D., M.S.H.M.S., diplomate of the Philippine Board of Rehabilitation Medicine and Pain Medicine. Long-term consequences of wearing high heels may lead to slipped discs and pinched nerves.

Five-minute fixes:

Dr. Rey-Matias recommends taking a few minutes a day to stretch and strengthen the back with these Williams flexion exercises:

• Single knee to chest. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly pull your right knee toward your shoulder and hold 5 to 10 seconds. Lower the knee and repeat with the other knee.

• Hamstring stretch. Start in long sitting with toes directed toward the ceiling and knees fully extended. Slowly lower the trunk forward over the legs, keeping knees extended, arms outstretched over the legs, and eyes focused ahead.

• Squat. Stand with both feet parallel, about shoulder's width apart. Attempt to maintain the trunk as perpendicular as possible to the floor, eyes focused ahead, and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lower your body by flexing your knees.

Read more on small changes with huge impact in the holiday issue of HealthToday magazine, available at bookstores and newsstands.

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