The saying ‘Health is Wealth’ is very true. Being healthy is priceless. The good news is that taking care of your body is not that difficult. Implementing some healthy long term strategies and keeping to them will ensure you give yourself the best chance of safeguarding yourself against illness and even life threatening afflictions such as cancer and heart disease. Adapting healthy habits may seem daunting at first if you have not been taking care of yourself but when you start looking after your body the positive results of your endeavours will be well worth the effort.
8 Steps to a healthier version of yourself
- Do some form of exercise every day
In today’s modern world where we spend so much time sitting as compared to our ancestors who were always on the move in their hunt for food the tendency to move our bodies on a regular basis has greatly diminished. Exercise not only keeps your body healthy it also helps to keep your mind clear and has numerous other health benefits. Aerobic exercise releases good feel endorphins that help to fight depression, anxiety and general mood disorders. It is often prescribed by doctors as a front line treatment to treat symptoms before medication is prescribed. Yoga is also beneficial for stress relief, increasing flexibility and strength and improving balance which helps to counter falls which can increasingly occur as we age. It is important to mix your exercise routine up and remember that walking is also a great form of movement. It is not necessary to indulge in vigorous forms of movement every day but it is important to try and ‘break a sweat’ when you move at least three times a week to help strengthen your heart and muscles. Exercise will help to keep you younger and fitter for longer and no matter what your age it is not too late to start. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start off slow and build up. The most important thing is consistency to keep your mind and body in good shape.
- Healthy eating habits are a must to maintain health
This seems quite obvious and the majority of people understand how important it is to eat healthily but not everyone does. Once a regular exercise routine is part of your daily routine, following a healthy eating plan will come naturally. When you exercise you will feel better and you won’t be so inclined to fill your body with dead calories that can harm your health. It is not necessary to go on a rigid diet to become healthy, in fact it is not recommended. What is necessary is to incorporate the ‘healthy eating way’ into your life. This means cutting out or down on red meat and processed meats that have been attributed to the development of cancers particularly colorectal cancer and swapping them for fish and vegetable based proteins. Cutting out sugary snacks and replacing them with fresh fruit and nuts. Eating more vegetables and swapping white bread and rice to brown. These are simple easy to follow healthy habits which are easily incorporated into your life without being so strict as with many diets that are not sustainable. Stop eating before you are full. The tendency is to eat until we are satiated. Studies have concluded that people who actually stop eating before they are full live longer and have more energy. It takes a lot of effort for our bodies to digest our food (much more with highly processed meats and fatty foods) . This process can make us sluggish which is why you can crave a nap after a big meal. Our bodies do not require us to eat until we feel stuffed. Gradually cut down on the amounts you are consuming to gain more energy. Start eating this way and graduate into a better healthier version of yourself.
- Good quality sleep is imperative for health
When we sleep our bodies repair themselves. It is vital to get enough sleep every night so we have the energy and mental clarity to fulfill all the duties we need to get through during the day. Unfortunately for many sleep deprivation is quite common and can greatly impact our health and standard of living. Incorporating daily exercise and good healthy eating habits will however be a great start in improving the standard of sleep you will achieve. Exercise will tire your body and make it more inclined to relax into slumber and when you cut out the hard to digest fatty foods especially at night your general digestion will approve which will aid sleep. If anyone has had a large amount of food especially anything lardaceous before bed they can generally attest that their sleep was detrimentally affected, this is why it is also important not to consume anything a few hours before bedtime so that your body is not working to digest food which can hinder falling and staying asleep. Mindful meditation can also be successful in achieving a good night’s sleep which for adults is considered to be between 7 to 9 hours. Regular meditation helps to quieten your mind and clear stressful thoughts from your head which can stop you from sleeping. It helps you to view seemingly difficult situations in your life from a distance and accept that it is only another situation as we all have situations and that it will pass. A dark, quiet room, suitable temperature and appropriate bedding so you are not too cold or too warm will also improve sleep quality. If you still have trouble falling asleep try drinking a cup of herbal tea such as chamomile to help calm your body down and induce a natural night’s sleep.
- Think positively to improve your overall mind and body health
It has been proven that thinking positively improves and strengthens our immune systems. Our immune system is what helps to keep us healthy. Our minds are extremely powerful. What we think we become. It is very important, despite what we are going through in life to persist in maintaining a positive outlook and practice gratitude for the good things in life we have. Negative thinking is a habit. We can easily fall into this dark cycle of complaining about everything going on which is very unattractive for other people to be around as well. The more we complain about things generally the worse things will get for us. We actually start to expect bad things to happen or for situations to worsen and we begin to attract it into our lives. Start changing any negative thoughts and words to positive ones. This can take a while to get used to if you have been on a negative spiral for a while but like anything the more you practice it the easier it becomes. We become what we think and say and the more we concentrate on the positive aspects of our lives and give gratitude for the good things we have the more our lives will begin to reflect this.
- Regularly wash your hands and avoid people that are sick
Washing your hands is something that many of our mothers used to instill in us. Now more than ever it is a sensible first line measure in removing germs from our hands that can easily move to our faces if we touch them and potentially infect us and make us sick. Avoiding those that are ill is also the best method in safeguarding your health. Try to avoid people with coughs and flu symptoms to avoid contracting them yourself. Keep your distance from people who are exhibiting such symptoms and if you have to be in close contact with someone who is ill, wear a facemask to protect yourself.
- Cut out or cut down on alcohol
Alcohol, although it can initially put us to sleep, generally invokes waking us up after a few hours and hindering slumber for the rest of the night. It is best to avoid drinking before sleep and to maintain health and vigour it is best for our bodies to either cut out alcohol altogether or to cut down on consumption by implementing alcohol free days during the week. Alcohol is full of dead calories and sugar that can plough on the weight. Excessive alcohol consumption is also associated with the development of many cancers, dementia and other chronic illnesses. To improve health and stay healthy try partaking in non alcoholic beverages and gradually wean yourself of alcohol to avoid any negative side effects that alcohol can wreak on your body.
- Don’t smoke
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Smoking causes cancer and is responsible for 70% of all confirmed lung cancers diagnosed. It also ages you with saggy, wrinkled skin and also damages your teeth causing gum disease which has been linked to heart disease and the development of diabetes 2. Smoking damages your wellbeing in numerous ways. Do your body a favour and if you do smoke make the decision to quit. Smoking is a very addictive habit but with determination you can break it and become a healthier you, potentially avoiding chronic diseases and an accelerated aging body in the process.
8 Limit your time in the sun.
Sun exposure is the biggest contributor to aging skin. Accumulative, excessive sun exposure can also lead to skin cancer. Make sure you guard your health and protect your skin from the sun by covering up when outside and wearing a good sunscreen and a hat. Not only will your skin benefit from not being burned in the sun, you will exponentially decrease your chances of contracting skin cancer.
Implement the above steps into your lifestyle now and reap the benefits of a healthier, more vital you. Our bodies are our houses and it is important that we aim to keep them functioning at their optimal level for as long as possible. In order for this to happen we need to incorporate the necessary healthy strategies to safeguard them and make this possible.