Spend a day in a hospital, or even an hour in your local GP’s waiting room and you will quickly realise how lucky you are to have your health. But simply deciding to live a healthier life is much easier to say than do, which is why we’ve compiled these 9 actionable steps to help get you live a healthier life.
Get your running shoes on. Walk even. Just move! The human body is not designed to sit for long periods of time. Sitting only makes an already unhealthy situation worse.
Enjoy the experience! There is no point jogging if you hate doing it. How can you maintain your motivation if you don’t enjoy it? Try something new like yoga, swimming, cycling, rowing, or going to the gym. There are literally a thousand different physical activities you can do to increase your fitness and improve your health and wellbeing.
It’s also important not to be put off by the discipline of sticking to a regular exercise routine – remember all the incidental stuff counts too. Take the stairs rather than the lift, park your car a little bit further away than you would normally, walk to the next bus stop rather than the closest one – it all counts towards a healthier you.
Yes, just like your Mum used to say, you must eat your fruit and vegetables! The official recommendation from health experts is to eat between 6 and 9 servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Most people struggle to eat 3! Make a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables, and try to go for as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as you can. Bright coloured fruit contains more antioxidants.
We know that snacking can be our undoing – so try to always have healthy snacks around – nuts and fresh fruit (cut it up each day to have in a container if that helps). Hopefully just having them handy will help you start reaching for the healthier stuff rather than going straight to the bad stuff for that short term energy fix.
Avoid processed food – snack healthier. An apple a day really does keep the doctor away… and the shrink, and the Dentist. The better and more often we eat, the better our bodies cope with stress and the better we feel.
There is no reason to be consuming more than 1 or 2 drinks per day. Too much carbonated or flavoured drinks have been proven to decrease not only physical health, but also mental health as well. Alcohol is also one of the biggest killers of all so it goes without saying that this needs to be taken in moderation.
It is recommended that the average person should be drinking around 2 litres of water per day . Most people fail to drink even a 500mL bottle per day. Not drinking enough water will have a lasting impression on your long term health.
Interestingly, often we think we are hungry when in fact it is really our bodies telling us we are thirsty. Try drinking a large glass of water first and then have a healthy snack.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep! One of the biggest impacts on your mental health is the patterns you fall into due to lack of sleep. Ideally you should aim to have at least 6 hours of good sleep each night and follow-up with a healthy breakfast.
Stay positive and be happy! Easier said than done, granted – but it’s quite literally a case of mind over matter, and the more something matters, the more important a role the mind plays. Think positively about yourself, write down some positive and achievable short and long term goals – make sure you have some ‘health’ goals in there, and remember to be grateful for the little as well as the big things. E ven saying ‘thank you’ for something when you wake up every morning can put you in a positive frame of mind to face the day.
Cancer is a frightening and very real part of many people’s lives. It makes sense that if you want to live longer, you need to stay healthy and avoid cancer-causing products and habits wherever possible. Some of the biggest carcinogens in society today include smoking and the sun. Do yourself a favour and slip, slop, slap – wear sunscreen, a hat and skin protection at all times when outside even when it is cloudy. And as for the other thing – TODAY is the best time to quit!
Enjoy life – it’s about the journey not the destination… Get busy living or get busy dying… There are a million more clichés I can share, but I think you get the message. It’s important to find a balance between work and life that suits you and allows yourself time for you. Allowing yourself this time is important for your mental health and physical health. And the best things in life worth doing are the ones that make you feel good – so make sure you’re leaving room for some fun.
No, Facebook does NOT count. It makes sense that people who spend more time with other people are more likely to live longer. People who are alone tend to be more depressed, more anxious and are less physically active. Social connections and being around others can be a way of de-stressing, engaging and actively participating – whether physically, mentally, or both.
I hope these 9 steps give you a clear and actionable path to a healthier and happier you. Just remember, it’s never too late to start doing something new, to start moving more or start eating better. It’s always a good idea to change any bad habits before hindsight shows up looking for a place to stay.
Let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth – I heard it was fattening anyway!