Study Buddy (Explorer): How to be healthier – physically and mentally – in 2022

  • Each week, Study Buddy Explorer presents an interesting story that we have adjusted to be more accessible for all English learners
  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] Working on your resolutions for the upcoming year? Add these seven to the list, and you may reduce your risk of heart disease, experience less stress, and even extend your life.

[2] Eat mushrooms to lower your depression risk
Mushrooms are inexpensive and easy to prepare – plus they have anticancer effects. But here is another reason to enjoy them: they can lower your risk of developing depression. Mushrooms are the highest dietary source of ergothioneine which can reduce symptoms of depression and protect against cell and tissue damage.

[3] Take naps, but short ones
Daytime napping is considered healthy, but long naps were associated with a higher risk of death in people who slept more than six hours per night. It is unclear why long naps have this effect. Studies suggest that they are linked with higher levels of inflammation, high blood pressure and diabetes.

[4] “Napping recharges the body and mind, but keep your naps to 20 minutes,” said Dr Tony Wong from The London Medical Clinic in Hong Kong. “Anything longer puts you in that deep-sleep phase, and you may feel drowsy when you wake up.”

[5] Regular health screenings could save your life
Health screenings helped in early detection of diseases, Wong said. “It’s worth getting blood work done annually to check your liver and kidney function and cholesterol levels,” Wong said. Mental health checks are just as important. Some physical symptoms could point to psychological issues, Wong added.

[6] Want less stress? Eat more fruits and vegetables
Chronic stress raises your risk of problems like anxiety, depression, digestive issues, cardiovascular disease, sleep issues, weight gain and muscle pain. But eating at least 470g of fruit and vegetables daily may help with stress. Besides being high in fibre, fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. All of these can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress – problems that are thought to lead to increased stress and anxiety.

[7] Sleep at this time every night for better heart health
Falling asleep between 10pm and 11pm might be most ideal for heart health, found a British study. People who fell asleep between 11pm and 11.59pm had a 12 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease, and those who fell asleep at midnight or later had a 25 per cent greater risk. The results suggest that early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock, with harmful effects on cardiovascular health.

[8] Stay hydrated to lower your risk of heart failure
Keeping hydrated throughout your life was recently found to reduce the risk of heart failure 25 years on. How much fluid is enough? The recommended daily amount varies, from 1.6 litres to 2.1 litres for women, and from 2 litres to 3 litres for men. However, many people do not meet even the lower ends of these ranges.

[9] Avoid sitting for long periods – it is bad for your mental health
Pandemic-related lockdowns made most people’s lifestyles more sedentary. Being sedentary made many of us more depressed, anxious, stressed and lonely, according to two American studies. The studies suggest taking breaks when sitting for long periods and to find other ways to build physical activity into your day.

Source: South China Morning Post, December 7


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What does the “list” in paragraph 1 refer to?
A. stress-related activities
B. New Year’s resolutions
C. medical conditions
D. New Year’s celebrations

2. List two health benefits of eating mushrooms mentioned in paragraph 2. (2 marks)

3. Read paragraphs 3 and 4, and decide whether the following statements are True, False or Not Given. (4 marks)
(i) Taking short naps during the day can be good for health.
(ii) Long naps are recommended because they have more benefits for your body.
(iii) The optimum length of time for a nap is 20 minutes.
(iv) Those above the age of 21 tend to feel drowsy after waking up from a long nap.

4. What medical conditions are linked to long naps according to paragraphs 3 and 4?
A. heart failure
B. stroke
C. low blood pressure
D. none of the above

5. According to paragraph 5, what is just as important as a physical check-up?

6. What do fruits and vegetables contain that help reduce stress and anxiety?

7. What does the study in paragraph 7 reveal about people who sleep after 11.59pm?

8. What is the minimum amount of water an adult man should drink every day?

9. Which word could be replaced by “inactive” in paragraph 10?
A. sedentary
B. lockdowns
C. lifestyles
D. break

Eating more fruits and vegetables could help reduce your stress. Photo: Shutterstock


1. B
2. They have anticancer effects. / They can lower one’s risk of developing depression. / They can protect against cell and tissue damage. (any two)
3. (i) T; (ii) F; (iii) T; (iv) NG
4. D
5. mental health checks
6. They are high in fibre and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
7. They had a 25 per cent greater risk of developing heart disease.
8. two litres
9. A

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