As 2016 draws to a close, we asked a wide range of our experts one simple question—what’s something you did this year that went so well for you that you would recommend our readers try it in 2017?
Among their inspiring responses…
I got into electric biking. I love riding bikes—it’s a great way to stay in shape and explore my area. But I’ve reached an age where my leg muscles scream in protest if I climb a few steep hills. Rather than bike less, I’ve started riding an electric-assist bike, or “e-Bike,” on long or hilly trips. Electric bikes are not scooters—they have pedals, and I still pedal and get exercise. The electric motor just provides a little help when I need it. With an e-Bike, I can enjoy long rides again and still get out of bed the next day. I even completed the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail, which stretches about 80 miles from Connecticut up into Massachusetts, doing about 25 miles at a time. My favorite e-Bikes include the A2B Entz Deluxe and Pedego Boomerang—their frames dip low so that I can climb on without having to swing my leg up and over a high bar. They’re pricey—the Pedego, for example, sells for close to $3,000—but very well-built, and they bring the joy back to biking.
Source: Gary Kaye is founder and chief content officer of Tech50+, which covers consumer-electronics topics. Based in Oxford, Connecticut, he has reported on technology for more than 30 years at NBC News, ABC News, CNN, Fox Business Network and other organizations. Tech50Plus.com
I connected with Honor Flights. I was waiting for a flight when I noticed a group of older men wearing hats and military insignia that spoke of service long ago. They were there because of the Honor Flight Network (HonorFlight.org), a nonprofit that flies thousands of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans to DC every year so that they can visit the war memorials…and receive thanks and cheers for their service. I sat and spoke with a Marine who fought in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. As it happens, my grandfather served in Okinawa, too, as a surgeon in a field hospital. He died 20 years ago, but speaking with this Marine made me feel close to him again. Now whenever I see an Honor Flight in the airport, I head over to talk to some vets, and I’m going to officially volunteer with the organization.
Source: Marc E. Agronin, MD, is a psychiatrist who is medical director for mental health and clinical research at Miami Jewish Health Systems. He also is an affiliate associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal experts blog at Blogs. WSJ.com
I became “stupid” again. The most effective defense against age-related cognitive decline is not a drug or a diet plan—it is continuing to learn new things late in life. But learning new skills requires that we set aside our pride and take a chance that we will look foolish. It requires that we be open to becoming “stupid” again. I started transitioning into retirement in 2016, and I knew that if I tried to learn a musical instrument or a foreign language I would soon become frustrated and quit. So instead I bought a used powerboat and a used all-terrain vehicle (ATV), both moderately priced. They force my brain to build new pathways. If you don’t believe that these hobbies provide a mental challenge, try backing up a pickup with a trailer into a 25-foot boat slip. That’s one of the most mentally challenging things I’ve ever done—and I performed microsurgery for 40 years when a two-millimeter error would prove catastrophic.
Source: Steven Z. Kussin, MD, is a gastroenterologist and founder of the Shared Decision Center in Central New York. He has taught at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City. He is author of Doctor, Your Patient Will See You Now: Gaining the Upper Hand in Your Medical Care. He appears on WKTV in Utica, New York, as The Medical Advocate.
I ditched the digital planner apps and started tracking my to-do list in an old-fashioned journal. This is not what people expect to hear from the host of a talk show about technology, but sometimes the high-tech solution is not the best solution. I’ve tried all the major digital organizer apps, and none of them works as well as just jotting down to-do lists and other responsibilities in a simple notepad. (Bullet Journal–brand notepads are a personal favorite, BulletJournal.com.) It’s quick, easy and intuitive—you can see your life laid out for you by simply flipping through the pages. With a digital organizer, you have to fire up an app and then search for the right project or day. And it’s easy to overlook a listing or enter a meeting in the wrong week.
Source: Kim Komando is host of The Kim Komando Show, a call-in talk-radio show about consumer technology that airs on more than 470 radio stations each week. Komando.com
I added high-intensity interval training to my exercise routine. High-intensity interval training is brief periods of intense exercise punctuated by periods of far less strenuous activity. For example, you might pedal a stationary bike very hard for one minute…slow to an easy pace for two minutes…and then repeat this several more times. Research shows that this is far more effective at burning fat and calories and improving aerobic capacity than longer, less intense workouts. After just a few months of high-intensity interval-training spin classes, my health and fitness improved from pretty good to nearly optimal—my body fat percentage now ranks in my target range for men my age.
Source: Richard S. Isaacson, MD, is director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic, Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, New York City, where he is associate professor of clinical neurology and director of the neurology residency training program. He is coauthor of The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet.
I paused to give thanks before meals. I’ve discovered that expressing gratitude for my food, my loved ones and anything else that I am fortunate enough to remember brings me contentment. It reminds me to set aside whatever is on my mind and appreciate the meal and maybe the time spent with my companions. It makes me healthier by encouraging me to eat slowly and mindfully. I find myself looking forward to these moments of serenity. The simple act of saying thanks has transformed the everyday act of eating dinner.
Source: Daniel Post Senning, great-great-grandson of etiquette maven Emily Post, is coauthor of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition. He is cohost of the Awesome Etiquette podcast. EmilyPost.com
I used meditation to conquer mid-day energy lulls. When I start to feel sluggish after lunch, instead of taking a nap, I shut my office door, turn off the lights, stretch out on the floor—Black’s Law Dictionary makes a surprisingly effective pillow—and focus only on my breathing for 20 minutes. When other thoughts come rushing in, I acknowledge them, set them aside and focus on my breathing once again. In the past, I had been somewhat skeptical of the value of meditation, but The Relaxation Response, a book by Harvard Medical School researcher Herbert Benson, MD, convinced me that there is actual science behind this. I am amazed at how well it works—after I meditate, I feel reenergized for the rest of the day.
Source: Steven J. Weisman, Esq., is senior lecturer in the department of law, tax and financial planning at Bentley University, Waltham, Massachusetts. He is founder of the scam-information website Scamicide.com.