Today, President Barack Obama will celebrate being sworn in for his second term, bringing about four more years of -- among many, many things -- healthy habits at the White House. Obama and First Lady Michelle are two of the greatest healthy lifestyle advocates Washington D.C. has ever known and they do so by modeling good behavior at home.
We've compiled some of the best lessons we can learn from the First Couple. So on Inauguration Day, get your health on with some inspiring examples. And if you're looking to try a few of these at home, the First Lady's health behavior initiative, Let's Move provides tracking tools, tips and tricks to help.
Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments!
Grow Your Own Food
Sam Kass, the Obamas' head chef and Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, is also the Gardener-in-Chief, having produced <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/author/Sam%20Kass">more than 3,000 pounds of produce</a> in the White House's kitchen garden. Studies show that gardening is <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/08/why.gardening.good/index.html">good for your health by just about every measure</a> -- from mental health and fitness level to nutrition and cognitive function. The act of gardening is a healthy behavior -- studies of seniors found that those who garden have a 36 to 47 percent reduced risk of dementia than non-gardeners. And one Dutch study found that participants reported being in a better mood after gardening and had lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Meanwhile, growing veggies and herbs can only mean a diet higher in these healthful foods -- a major benefit.
Stressed? Shoot Some Hoops
Obama has <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Why-Obama-Plays-Basketball-on-Election-Day-177504501.html">famously played basketball each time he's awaited election results</a>. And according to the research, that's a great way to handle the stress of such a big day. Physically active people generally<a href="http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/exercise-stress.aspx"> report lower levels of stress and depression</a>, reports the American Psychological Association. And that could be because exercise increases the brain concentration of a neuromodulator called norepinephrine, which makes the brain's stress response more efficient, the APA explains.
Do The Dougie
When Michelle Obama graciously displayed her ability to dougie, she wasn't just having fun and getting some cardio -- she was also helping to prevent cognitive decline. Research shows that <a href="http://www.aarp.org/health/fitness/info-2005/dance_to_health.html">learning and remembering dance sequences</a> is a great way to boost memory. As AARP reports, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who danced at least twice a week (in this case, ballroom dancing) were less likely than their non-dancing counterparts to develop dementia. But dancing is also great because it can burn about 300 calories per hour, is easy on joints (low-impact) and weight bearing -- which promotes bone density.
Have A Happy Marriage
Many admire the respectful, loving partnership the Obamas seem to have. Not only do they get to enjoy their close bond, but it also makes them healthier. Research consistently shows that married people are more likely to have it better, health wise. A 2011 BMJ editorial, for example, reported that <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-01/bmj-mig012611.php">both partners enjoy longer lives</a>, while married women enjoy improved mental health and married men enjoy, on average, better physical conditions.
Find Time To Play
The photo seen around the world of Obama captured by a tiny spiderman wasn't just heartwarming -- it might have been brain-boosting as well. Finding time to play is a crucial way to reduce stress and <a href="http://www.webmd.com/balance/features/everyday-playtime-for-adults?page=2">get a boost of neurochemicals associated with happiness and well-being</a>, like dopamine and serotonin, reports WebMD.
Make Workouts A Priority
Every morning, the Obamas fit a workout in before the start of their days. "Barack and I work out every day," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/michelle-obama-workout-routine-fitness-exercise_n_1817879.html">Michelle told iVillage</a>. "I usually get to the gym before he does. But he is usually there either in the middle of my workout or right at the end. And we're watching `SportsCenter' and we're catching up." That's good for their cardiovascular health, and it helps to prevent early aging, cancer and dementia -- but it also is helpful for their demanding jobs, which require superhuman focus and multitasking. One survey of office workers who were told to exercise at 30 or 60 minute intervals found that <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8160459/ns/health-fitness/t/exercise-may-make-you-better-worker/">working out on the job improved time management</a>, overall performance and ability to meet deadlines.
Enforce Mandatory Family Dinners
The Obamas have dinner together every night when they are in town and that's a healthful practice for everyone, but particularly for daughters Sasha and Malia. Eating dinner at least three times per week is <a href="http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20339151,00.html">associated with higher grades and school performance</a>, according to a report from Health.com. And eating together at the table -- away from distractions like TV -- encourages mindful eating practices that teach kids to listen to their bodies for signs of satiety. It also encourages them to try new things (including new <em>healthy</em> things).
Have A 'Cheat' Day
"This is the time when I throw ‘Let's Move’ out the window for a moment, and get that mac and cheese. Everybody deserves their mac and cheese," the First Lady <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/21/white-house-christmas-dinner-2012-first-family-menu_n_2346478.html">told reporters of her Christmas menu</a>. Can we make that an executive order? In seriousness, cheat days are seen by many nutritionists as a stop gap against diet failures.
Get A Pet
Studies show that having a pet can lower blood pressure and reduce stress and symptoms of depression. Thankfully, Bo the Portuguese Water Dog is on hand to offer some canine therapy.
This is an obvious one, but even the Leader of the Free World <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8601-250_162-3886962-1.html?assetTypeId=41&blogId=">needed an ultimatum</a> to get it done before the start of his first term. Quitting smoking is associated with immediate results: within just 20 minutes, blood pressure begins to go down, <a href="http://www.everydayhealth.com/smoking-cessation/immediate-and-long-term-benefits.aspx">reports Everyday Health</a>.