Published on July 31st, 2012 | by Kristian Arfman
5 easy ways to get healthier today
Many people these days want to live a healthier lifestyle, which is a great goal to have regardless of how busy you are or your fitness level. However, it’s hard to know where to start if you’re just beginning; all the information can seem overwhelming and contradicting. Starting down the road of a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be hard or fast. It’s not about drastically changing your routine for a day, a week or a month. It’s about taking that first step; it’s about slowly instilling new healthy habits into your lifestyle that will give you long lasting results. Just a few easy changes each week can get you moving in the right direction of a longer and healthier life.
Here are five easy things you can do today for a healthier tomorrow.
The human body is made up of 55-75% water and every system and function depends on it. You lose water every day by exhalation, bathroom breaks, and sweating (noticeable or not) and all that water needs replenishing. Being fully hydrated helps you avoid fatigue, headaches and dizziness. It can also quell hunger (often our body’s thirst cues get misunderstood for hunger), aid in proper digestion and promote healthy skin and teeth. Not to mention you can drink as much as you want without consuming excess calories. The benefits are really limitless and it can only make you feel better, so what are you waiting for? Go to the kitchen, pour yourself a big glass.
Research has shown over and over the benefits of exercise. Not only does it strengthen your muscles, bones and connective tissue, but it improves your mood, memory and learning ability, not to mention decreasing your risk for nearly every chronic disease and improving overall immune function (2,3). Only ten minutes of activity a day is enough to start feeling and seeing positive changes. So take the dog for a walk, go bike riding with your kids or spouse, play a game with family or friends in the backyard, take the stairs instead of the elevator, go hiking, biking, canoeing, anything! Physical activity doesn’t have to be sweating it out for hours at the gym. Find something active that you love to do and do it!
You need sleep to recharge your body. Getting adequate shut-eye improves cognitive ability, memory, and mood (1). Developing healthy sleeping habits helps regulate hunger hormones, lowers stress and reduces risk of depression. Research has even shown that getting enough sleep can decrease inflammation, which decreases your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis a host of other chronic diseases (6). This short list only scratches the surface of possible benefits. Aim to get seven to nine hours each night whenever possible.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that nutrition is vitally important. Like water, the foods we put into our bodies affect every system we have. Think of your body as a finely tuned machine that needs the right fuel to function properly. By eating more whole vegetables and fruits and choosing less processed foods, you give your body what it needs to run on all cylinders. Research has shown that regularly eating fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke among a variety of other ailments (4). An easy rule of thumb: aim for a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits on your plate at each meal.
We have seen that happiness can influence health and vice versa (5). You’ve heard the saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” You can’t control many things that happen in life but you can control how events affect, or don’t affect, you. So relax, enjoy your surroundings. Try making the conscious decision to look at the glass as half full; there’s always a silver lining to every situation. Only you can control your internal happiness so choose to be happy! Choose to be thankful for the ones you love and enjoy every day you get to participate in life.
As you can see, taking the first steps toward a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be overly difficult or scary. Working toward a healthier future starts with the first decision. Once you make that decision, it can only go up from there.