Feel younger and smarter — start walking

Are you thinking that taking up exercising at your age would be like trying to sign up with NASA for the first moonwalk: just a little too late? Get your head out of the clouds! No matter what your age, within three months of doing a little walking on Earth, your brain and your body will be younger.

We YOU Docs have good science to back us up here. Even if you’re over 60 and your favorite workout has been watching “Dancing With the Stars,” just 90 days of no-sweat walking will boost the blood flow to your brain by 15 percent. (Can you say, “smarter”?) It also will lower your blood pressure and heart rate about 5 percent. (Can you say, “Goodbye, heart disease”?)

Yep, no panting needed. Just cruise at a moderate pace, 30 to 50 minutes a day, at least three to four times a week (we’d say seven), and you’ll remember where you stashed your new walking shoes in a snap! Bonus: Increasing blood flow also helps flush your brain’s blood vessels clean of the yucky waste (amyloid-beta protein) that’s linked to Alzheimer’s.

Ready to take that first small step (do it for mankind, do it for you)? Here’s how to get the maximum brain-boosting, calorie-burning benefits:

• Stand tall when you walk; eyes ahead, not cast down.

• Pump your arms back and forth to give them a workout, too.

• Land on your heel, then roll forward and push off with your toes; you’ll walk faster and burn more calories.

• Buy a pedometer (invest in a good one) and track your steps —they’ll mysteriously increase.

DON’T FALL FOR THESE FAKE MEDICINES

We YOU Docs love to share good news. Everyone could use more of it, even if you’re on a streak hotter than Lady Gaga’s! But some bad news is too important not to pass on.

Here’s the deal: At least 15 nonprescription pills and liquids are being sold that claim to either prevent or cure sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Don’t fall for ’em. There’s only one thing that helps to prevent STDs: a condom. As for cures, only prescription drugs can kick back or control genital herpes, chlamydia, genital warts, HIV infections and other trouble down there.

If you’re sexually active and haven’t been as careful as you should be — whether you’re in your 20s or your 70s — watch for these common STD symptoms: a burning sensation when you pee, pelvic pain and/or genital discharge, blisters, sores.

No problems? Great, but don’t relax yet. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all; it’s one reason
19 million people a year contract an STD. If you’ve had unprotected sex, your partner (or you) easily could be one of them without knowing it. See your doc and get tested.

SNEEZE LESS, ENJOY SPRING MORE

Ah, spring, the season of chirping birds, lawn mowers and, if you’ve got hay fever, sneezing, congestion, dripping and itchy, watery eyes. But if you steer clear of these three surprising allergy aggravators, you can cut down on those wheezy-sneezy symptoms.

1. Secondhand smoke. Breathing in nasty cigarette or cigar “exhaust” during pollen season can make your immune system pump out three times more histamines, the compounds responsible for those miserable allergy symptoms.

2. Air pollution. High levels of lung-irritating ozone (aka smog) and microscopic particles in the air boost odds for hay-fever-related sneezing in kids by 25 percent and increase your risk, too.

3. Cats, dogs and dust mites. If you’re sensitive to cat or dog dander or have a dust mite allergy, exposure to ’em can “prime” your immune system so that hay fever comes on earlier and with a vengeance!

The YOU Docs, Mehmet Oz and Mike Roizen, are authors of “YOU: On a Diet.” Want more? See “The Dr. Oz Show” on TV. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com.

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