The cast of the hit TV show, The Doctors, offer real-world tips on sneaking in fitness, eating healthily, boosting energy and improving your mood.
From Left to Right: James Sears, M.D.; Drew Ordon, M.D.; Lisa Masterson, M.D.; Travis Stork, M.D.
If the arrival of spring makes you want to get moving, you're in good company. Recent studies show that people exercise more when warm weather returns. "Everything is primed for us to get more active and excited about being healthy," says E.R. doctor Travis Stork, M.D., host of the Emmy-winning TV show The Doctors. Here, Dr. Stork and company share their best get-healthy advice.
Fitness Tips from TV's The Doctors
Walk while you talk
When you're on the phone, get on the move. You'll burn about 54 calories during a 20-minute call.
Stand up more
Sitting for six hours a day increases your risk of being overweight by 68 percent, says recent research. Another reason to get up: "The change in posture helps keep your joints healthy and your muscles strong," says Dr. Stork.
Find some fun
"Exercise doesn't always have to be long, boring sessions in the gym," says James Sears, M.D., who takes salsa dancing lessons at the junior college near his home. Diverse studies of everyone from teens to seniors confirm that if exercise is fun, people stick with it and reap more benefits.
Lean muscle revs up your metabolism, says Lisa Masterson, M.D., burning calories even when you're not exercising. A Netherlands study found that subjects who lifted weights for 18 weeks boosted their metabolism by 9 percent. You don't need dumbbells; a pair of soup cans, one-liter water bottles or plastic laundry detergent bottles will do.
Energy Tips from TV's The Doctors
Get some fresh air
According to a University of Rochester study, people who spent 20 minutes or more outdoors felt as if they had significantly more mental and physical stamina than those who opted to stay inside.
Chew sugarless gum
It may help you feel more alert. A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience found that people given fruit-flavored or minty gum felt sharper and happier, and had faster reaction times on mental challenges.
Avoid (or limit) alcohol and caffeine
"Both cause dehydration and obstruct your sleep," says Drew Ordon, M.D.
Healthy Eating Tips from TV's The Doctors
Learn to graze
"Instead of eating large meals, I have smaller ones more frequently," says Dr. Sears. Be sure to include fruit in your mini-meals: A recent University of California, Los Angeles, study found that normal-weight people eat two fruit servings a day; the overweight average only one.
Buy your food with cash
A Cornell University study suggests that people who pay for restaurant meals with cash make healthier menu choices than those who pay with a credit card.
Take time to transition
Switching from less-healthy foods, like white pasta, to healthier ones, like whole-grain pasta, works best if you take it slow. Introduce a half-and-half mixture and let your family get used to the new taste and texture. "I used to only eat white bread, but over time I learned to prefer whole-grain," says Dr. Stork.
Embrace the right fats
Healthy fats, especially the essential fatty acids in fish such as salmon and mackerel and the monounsaturated fats in olive and canola oils, can help your heart and brain. But be moderate; all fats contain about 45 calories per teaspoon.
Drink milk with salty food
Salt zaps calcium from your bones, and research suggests that every extra 1,000 mg of salt women eat each day leads to an additional 1 percent of bone loss each year. Combat this by getting four servings of low- or no-fat dairy each day.
Butter your toast
If you're eating starchy carbs like bread, a bit of protein or fat can help keep your blood sugar stable, which is good for your heart and helps reduce diabetes risks. So, smear your toast with ½ teaspoon of butter.
Mood-lifting Tips from TV's The Doctors
Count on kindness
Toting up the number of kind acts you perform can increase your own positive feelings.
Get another hour of sleep
Depriving yourself of sufficient sleep on a regular basis makes it harder for your brain to use the feel-good chemical serotonin. "There isn't an absolute number that is right for everyone, but between six and eight hours is enough for most adults," says Dr. Ordon.
Ease PMS with a smoothie
"There are a lot of medications for PMS, but it's great to try something natural," says Dr. Masterson. A decade-long study from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that diets high in calcium and vitamin D may keep PMS symptoms in check. The Doctors' recipe: Blend 1 cup each plain low-fat yogurt and orange juice, 1 banana and 1 tablespoon of molasses.
Flip on your iPod
Listening to music can relax you, relieve stress and even help lift a dark mood, says Dr. Sears. Some research has shown that music can reduce arthritis pain and improve memory in stroke sufferers.
Chat up a friendly neighbor
Research from Harvard University and the University of California, San Diego, shows optimism can be contagious. Happiness seems to spread most strongly among those who are geographically close. In other words, next-door neighbors and friends living within a mile will cheer you up most.
Speak from the heart
According to research published in the journal Psychological Science, people who reported feeling happiest spent twice as much time talking about topics that really mattered to them and half as much on superficial subjects.
Intercourse releases the hormone oxytocin, which sparks the formation of feel-good body chemicals called endorphins. "And we know that endorphins in your body naturally help with pain," says Dr. Ordon.