With 2018 just beginning, many of us will look to the New Year as a way to improve our health, feel good about ourselves and have more energy. To that end, I have put together some simple steps to get you (and me) going for a great 2018.
Move more: Most of us do not get enough physical activity to keep us healthy and protect us from disease. This doesn’t need to mean you have to hit the gym every day but it does mean getting up and moving around. The recommendation is for 30 or more minutes per day of activity on most days. If you’re already doing this, great. Doing more activity than this will lead to even better health. Some simple ways to get activity in your day: take a walk on your lunch break (it will also refresh you for the afternoon), park further from your destination, if you take the bus, get off one stop earlier, use the stairs instead of the elevator, be active with family and friends.
Avoid sitting or standing for long periods: Sitting for extended periods of time increases one’s chances of getting diabetes, heart disease and premature death, even in people who are active. If you sit most of the time either at home or work, set a timer to remind you to get up every 20 minutes and go for a 2-3 minute walk. Even this short amount of time is helpful. If you can, try to have walking meetings instead of sitting in the office. Getting a standing desk isn’t the solution as all it does is get you to stand still, it doesn’t help you move and just like sitting for long periods, standing in one place can lead to back pain and other problems. It is moving your muscles that helps.
Don’t smoke: Smoking is a risk factor for cancer, heart disease, stroke and lung disease, among others. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do. If you don’t smoke, minimize your exposure to second hand smoke.
Be social: People who have active social lives tend to be healthier and happier. Having this support system helps to relieve stress, smile and laugh- all good things. It also helps a person if/when things go wrong.
Make time for yourself: No, this isn’t a contrast to number 4. We rarely make time for ourselves during our day as we are always ‘on’ whether for work or family life. Taking 20-30 minutes each day for yourself is a good way to clear our thoughts, refresh and concentrate more effectively. Use this time to do something for yourself like read a book or go for a walk.
Eat breakfast: When we wake up, we haven’t eaten for 10-12 hours and our body is starving. Eating breakfast can help increase your energy throughout the day leading to more activity. However, it’s also important what you eat. A breakfast high in sugar is unlikely to help. One with fibre and protein is ideal.
Eat protein with each meal: Most of us do not get enough protein in our diets. Protein helps us feel full, is needed for our body’s metabolism and may help in weight maintenance. Simple protein sources include eggs, nuts, lean meats, yoghurt (Greek yoghurt especially) and peanut butter.
Sing and listen to music: We’re all singers at heart. You don’t need to get on stage in front of hundreds of people to benefit from singing. Many of us sing in the shower or while we’re getting ready for the day. It doesn’t even matter how good you are (no one needs to know). Singing has a number of benefits that make us feel good about ourselves and can help with our health. Even listening to music can make us feel better.
Get a good sleep: We need a good night’s sleep to recharge both our body and mind. There’s nothing better than the feeling of waking up refreshed and ready to start the day. Poor sleep can lead to difficulties concentrating, over-eating, being irritable and poor health. Aim to get between7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
Making a change in lifestyle isn’t easy. If you’re looking to make a change, having a plan will help. This includes setting goals that are realistic. Trying to change 3 or more things in our lives at one time is very challenging and usually doesn’t work leaving us with a feeling of failure, which is not helpful for a healthy lifestyle. Of the above 9 tips, maybe you just want to start with one of them first before moving on to another one.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!