As we begin the new year, everyone wants to be healthy. Good health is a common universal goal. Fortunately, there is a wealth of useful health-related information readily available. has complied a list of eight healthy habits that can benefit everyone. For instance, just standing up could improve your health. “The Mayo Clinic found that too much sitting is linked to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and other conditions. If you’re on your duff most of the day, try standing up every forty-five minutes to stretch or do simple exercises.”


Another recommendation is to cut back on diet soda. “Research shows diet sodas may change the bacteria in your gut and raise your blood sugar. Instead of helping us lose weight, artificial sweeteners may actually be causing weight gain and increasing rates of diabetes.” 


Plus, rest is also important. “While you sleep, your mind and body make much-needed repairs to your systems. Start sleeping more by going to bed ten minutes earlier than usual. Keep adding time until you’re up to seven or eight hours a night.” More at:


For many people, exercise is a path to good health. However, the old axiom “no pain no gain” may no longer apply. “That mindset is an exercise myth. If we consider why medical professionals prescribe exercise in the first place — so that you can be happy and healthy today while thriving well into old age — there’s no reason it shouldn’t be an enjoyable, fulfilling, and welcomed part of our day. That’s exactly what the research is discovering: People who enjoy their exercise routines are more likely to stick with them.  When things got too intense, participants dropped out.” (


Attaining good health can mean different things to different people. In Finland, for example, a hammock activity called “arctic cocooning” is popular. Simply, you  crawl into a hammock tethered between two trees and sleep outdoors in the cold. 

“It’s actually not uncommon in Finland for parents to put their babies outside in cold weather to sleep in sub-zero temps. They say the fresh air helps improve sleep.”  (


This practice fits in with a new trend in the business world – ice bath business meetings. “The trend has reached the business world for a certain cross section of professionals. “In a recent article, executives report preferring to address workplace challenges after spending six minutes in icy cold water, breathing through the pain. Executives even interview job applicants, all while submerged in 40-degree water.” (


Sleeping in sub-zero temps of submerging your body in icy water may be a tad extreme for you. If so, a warmer activity may be more your speed. Again, a list could be appropriate. In short, a clean home is a healthy home. “ Some people are more into household cleaning than others. Though your home doesn’t have to be immaculate, keeping it tidy does have its perks. A clean and well-organized home not only looks good, but it’s also good for you. Regular cleaning can keep you healthy.”


One reason for this is cleaning can prevent germs that make you sick. “Bacteria, viruses, and other germs that cause infection linger on commonly touched surfaces like countertops, doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, and phones.”


Cleaning can also be a stress reliever. “Research finds people who live in cluttered homes have higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Piles of junk everywhere are like little distractions, competing with work and other important tasks for your attention. The feeling they create of having unfinished tasks can put a strain on your senses, and stress you out. When you’re surrounded by clutter, it can reduce your ability to concentrate.” More at:


Another way to limit stress is to have something worthwhile to occupy your free time. You know, something like counting walruses. Really! “The World Wildlife Foundation and British Antarctic Survey are enlisting the help of the public to become walrus detectives. The Walrus From Space project will put citizen scientists to work reviewing thousands of satellite images to create the first-ever population census of Atlantic and Laptev walruses.” 


Here's how it works. “The job will require you to look at satellite images and pinpoint the number of walruses in each image. To participate in the program you'll need at least thirty minutes of your time and a screen large enough to be able to identify walruses from satellite images. Upon registering to be a walrus detective, you'll get a short training to make sure you know how to do the identifications and after identifying a certain number of walruses you can even receive merit badges.” 

You can register for the role at


Finally, when it comes to health and longevity it's wise to pay attention to someone who attained both. Just this week, the world's oldest person, French nun Lucile Randon, died at age 118. She said she looked forward to heaven, but “continued to enjoy earthly pleasures like eating chocolate and drinking a glass of wine every day.” (


She also left us with a valuable piece of wisdom:  "People should help each other and love each other instead of hating. If we shared all that, things would be a lot better."


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and