Got a thing for salty foods? Besides upping your blood pressure, here’s another reason to kick salt out of your diet: it could be making you age faster, outside and in. Eating too much salt essentially dehydrates your internal organs, causing them to “steal” water from your skin. As your skin becomes more dehydrated, fine lines become visible and your facial color dulls.
Salt also ages you on the inside. Telomeres are the protective ends on your chromosomes, and although they naturally shorten with age, a sodium-rich diet can make them shorten faster.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommend limiting sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg a day, although you’ll do better going under 1,000 mg a day. One teaspoon of salt, by the way, contains 2,325 mg.
While you should stop salting foods, it’s also important to watch out for high-salt processed and prepared foods. A whopping 40 percent of your daily sodium intake probably comes from only ten foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and white bread of any sort is a big culprit. Here’s the full list: bread and rolls, pizza, sandwiches, cold cuts and cured meats, soups, burritos and tacos, savory snacks (like chips, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes, and crackers), chicken, cheese, and eggs and omelets. Select low-sodium versions of your favorite foods, remove the salt shaker from your table, and use herbs and spices in lieu of salt to flavor foods.
It’s no secret that stair climbing is a cardio activity. Anybody who’s traipsed to the top row of bleachers in a stadium knows this. Now add intensity to that stair climbing, do it for ten minutes straight (which includes warm-up and cool-down), and you’ve just improved your cardiorespiratory fitness, according to research from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. It’s a perfect exercise if you’re short on time or lack access to a bona fide gym. Bonus? You can even do this on your lunch break.
Stair climbing after a meal could even help you lower blood sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. In one study from BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, older adults who climbed stairs for three minutes at a time one hour and then two hours after a meal had lower post-meal blood sugar levels. It’s also been shown to boost energy, maybe even more than coffee, and can build strength in the lower body.
Plus, climbing stairs now will help you avoid not being able to climb them in the future, since you’ll not only keep your muscles strong, but you’ll also keep your heart in shape. So shift some of your workout time to the stairs—climb them quickly to get a cardio boost or take two at a time to build muscle strength—and of course, always take the stairs whenever possible. One other trick? Adopt a no-elevator policy when traveling and use stairs whenever you’re on a cruise ship or at a hotel.