Everyone wants to be healthy… but what does that mean, exactly? The way we eat, sleep, exercise, and our outlook on life are key ingredients for how to get healthy. Follow these pointers to help achieve the long-term wellness you’re looking for.
What You Eat
Making healthy food choices can get overwhelming, so start with some simple tips:
- Aim for five servings of vegetables a day, especially those rich in phytonutrients – broccoli, carrots, and leafy greens, for example.
- Avoid processed foods because they’re higher in calories and lower in nutrients than fresh whole foods.
- Limit saturated and trans fats contained in baked sweets and other processed foods.
- Include whole grains, legumes, healthy fats and lean proteins into your diet.
- Look for foods high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon, trout, ground flaxseed, and grass-fed meats and dairy products.
- Eat often – think five small meals a day versus three – to keep your metabolism pumping along.
The many benefits of exercise include lower blood pressure, improved muscle strength and bone density, and so much more. Exercising is a must for heart health and avoiding obesity, and it provides stress relief and endorphins you need for your mental health. You don’t have to hit the gym for hours a day, but you should exercise daily for at least ten minutes, and three or four times a week for at least 30 or 45 minutes. Some ideas:
- Walk or run with your dog
- Play tennis or golf
- Take a dance or Zumba class
- Join a gym for weight training and cardio
- Swim at your local YMCA
- Go mountain biking with friends
- Plan weekly hikes at new trails
- Sign up for an event, such as a 5K or a mud run
Plan your workouts so that they vary each day and include rest days so you don’t plateau. And, choose things you truly enjoy, and it will never seem like work.
Your body needs sleep for the restorative effects of cell repair and detoxification, and most of us don’t get enough. If sleep doesn’t come easily to you, try establishing a regular bedtime and nighttime routine, which might include a small bedtime snack of milk or oatmeal with caffeine-free tea. Stay off your smartphone, and darken your room completely. If you can’t turn off anxiety or stress-inducing thoughts, try writing in a journal before bed every night to “put those thoughts away.”
Thinking is Believing
Maintaining a positive attitude is easier said than done sometimes, but it actually helps support a healthy immune system. Some helpful tools include yoga, meditation, learning new coping skills, and surrounding yourself with people who have a healthy lifestyle. If your job or a relationship is causing severe stress, take steps to address the problem.
Accomplishments don’t just happen. If you want to change something in your life to improve your overall health, set a goal to do it. Next, write down the achievable baby steps that will get you there. Lose weight. Spend more time with your family. Get more sleep. Run a half-marathon. You can get healthier, starting today.