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February 2005

Happy New You!

Ten ways to improve your life—Bavarian style

Anew year, a new you? For most of us, come February, our annual resolutions to live more healthily, do our bit for society, etc., have long fizzled out. But all is not lost. We’ve come up with ten simple ways to change your life for the better in 2005. They may seem minor, but the long-term effects on your body and mind will be significant. And, what’s more, they are all far easier to achieve than your average New Year’s resolution. 1) See Munich by foot. Experts claim that we can keep fit simply by walking 10,000 steps every day. On average, people walk between 2,000 and 6,000, so it’s not exactly a question of introducing a major alpine hike into your daily routine to up your tally. Instead, a few small changes are all it takes. For example, getting from the S-Bahn platform to the surface at Marienplatz requires some 150 steps, depending of course on the length of your legs. Shopaholics can put their addiction to good use—walking along Theatinerstrasse between Marienplatz and Odeonsplatz is approximately 500 steps one way—and that’s before you’ve set foot in any shops! 2) Discover the joys of teatime. There’s no need to miss out on your daily Kaffee und Kuchen session—but, by swapping coffee for black tea, you’ll be doing yourself a lot of favors. A recent study has found that five cups a day can lower your harmful cholesterol levels by 11 percent in just three weeks. 3) Sleep in. Increase the average of seven hours of sleep a night by 10 percent (that’s 42 minutes) and you’ll not only be less tired, but will be less prone to weight gain, as a lack of sleep can interfere with blood sugar metabolism. 4) Raise a Krug. Yes, Munich’s favorite tipple—beer—has been hailed as having numerous health benefits: it contains lots of magnesium, which helps prevent heart disease, kidney stones and gallstones; it is full of fruit acids, which aid digestion; the polyphenols in beer are effective against cardiovascular disease and cancer and it can even help you lose weight, assuming you don’t succumb to the midnight munchies afterwards—and, of course, assuming that you drink in moderation. In the words of Professor Dr. Anton Piendl, from the Institute for Brewery Technology and Microbiology at Munich’s Weihenstephan University: “One beer is better than no beer. Two beers are better than one beer. But four beers are not twice as good as two beers.” 5) Pop a cork. If you prefer the grape to the grain, Dr. Nosratian, from the International Doctors’ Practice in Munich, is happy to recommend that you enjoy a drop of wine before you go to bed at night. “A quarter of a liter of red wine for men, or an eighth for women, will help protect your heart and blood vessels,” he says. 6) Head for the Viktualienmarkt. With such a splendid array of fruit and vegetables, who could fail to be tempted to introduce more goodness into their diet? Make it a weekly treat to buy lots of fresh produce—ideally 250 g of fruit and 400 g of vegetables a day, according to Dr. Nosratian. 7) Your wurst enemy? There’s no reason to cut out on treats like sausage and Leberkäs altogether, but why not blot them quickly with a paper towel before eating, which can reduce the fat content by as much as 10 percent. 8) The hills are alive…with lots of chilled-out people. Yes, you’ve got the Alps and lakes on your doorstep, so there’s no excuse for not getting out there and making the most of them. Even one short session a week can have an impact on your stress levels and reduce anxiety. 9) Enjoy life. Taking time off from work to do something you enjoy will noticeably improve your psychological well-being, and thus have a positive effect on your physical health. Munich’s Volkshochschule offers a number of courses in English, so there’s no excuse for not taking up the hobby you’ve always fancied. 10) Drink lots of Munich water. Touted by many to be the best in Germany, the stuff that comes out of the city’s taps has endless health benefits. By drinking at least 1 1/2 liters a day, you’ll help your body metabolize fat, flush waste from the cells and improve the quality of your skin. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and you’ll also help maintain your skin’s elasticity. <<<

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