We live in a time of quick fixes, and it's easy to want immediate results and solutions. However, the important things, like staying healthy, require a little extra effort, long-term planning, and dedication on your part – but it's all worth it!
Here are 6 simple ways you can improve your health:
1. Stay hydrated
There are plenty of tempting beverages out there, from soda, juices, and more, but plain old water is simply the best! Most drinks contain calories, sugar, and processed chemicals that can lead to unwanted side effects. Do your body a favor and drink 8 oz (or more!) of water daily. Getting enough water can increase energy levels, maintain bowel regularity, flush out toxins, promote clear and smooth skin, boost metabolism, promote repair of cells, and more!
2. Get more rest
You've heard it since you were little: getting enough sleep matters. It's recommended that you snooze at least 6-8 hours per night. Not enough sleep can lead to issues like poor memory, increased likelihood of car accidents, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, low libido, obesity, depression, and it even wrinkles! Having a hard time getting your brain to shut down at night? Consider turning off your screens including cell phones, computers, and TVs about an hour before bed.
3. Hit the gym
The recommended “dose” of exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity). That's about 35 minutes of exercise a day for 5 days a week. Hiking, biking, swimming, running, walking, pickle ball, and dancing are all great options. Get creative! Do things that you enjoy, and mix up your routine to prevent boredom. Exercise helps improve our mood, lessen health problems, promote better sleep, strengthen your muscles and bones, encourage weight loss, and improve your immune function.
4. Change your diet
The old saying that “you are what you eat” is true! We tend to eat more processed and fast foods than is good for us. Making diet changes is always tricky, but start with small changes and track your eating with a food journal... you'll be off to a great start! Here are a few steps you can take to develop healthier eating habits:
- Get plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet each day
- Increase your fiber intake through whole grains, fruits, and legumes
- Consider adding supplements such as probiotics, vitamin D3, and Omega 3’s
- Start off your morning with a good breakfast to help maintain your metabolism through out the day
Check out www.choosemyplate.gov for tools and tips to help guide you in making better food choices. There is no diet that will do what healthy eating does!
5. Reduce stress
Stress can increase chronic disease and inflammation. Just taking 5-minute breaks throughout the day to reduce your stress can result in improved mood, weight loss, cancer protection, better focus and memory, reduction of headaches, improved digestion, and more. A few ways to lower your stress throughout the day:
- Explore nature
- Start a hobby
- Relax with family or friends
- Get a massage
- Take a hot, candle-lit bath
- Use a stress-reduction app (my favorites are Headspace and Calm)
- Simply do something you enjoy!
Schedule small breaks in your day to try some of these stress relievers. Your whole body and mind will thank you!
6. Ditch the bad habits
Now is the perfect time to quit smoking or cut back on alcohol intake. The long term benefits are worth it! As soon as you quit smoking, your body starts to repair smoking-caused damage:
- 20 minutes after quitting: heart rate drops to normal
- 12 hours after quitting: carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to normal
- 2 weeks - 3 months after quitting: heart attack risk decreases and lung functions begin to improve
- 10 years after quitting: risk of dying from lung cancer cut in half
Decreasing the amount of alcohol can also have great health benefits, including: improved communication between the neurons in the brain, growth of new brain cells, younger looking skin, extra money in your pocket, social stability, weight loss, reduced risk of heart attack, healthy liver, and better sleep!
There is never a better time than now to start making the small changes that will have a BIG impact on your life. So get out there & stay healthy!