We all want to live long, healthy lives. These days, life-expectancy is at an all-time high. Thanks to research into health, investments into medicines and medical research, people are living longer and enjoying a healthier life overall. But habits are easily formed, and it’s very easy to fall into bad ones such as over-eating, choosing the wrong sorts of foods and not getting enough exercise. So, here are our five tips to start living a healthier life.
Tip 1: Eat Well
It seems like the obvious place to start, but it is probably also the easiest part of our lives to neglect. With so many fast and easy options to choose from, convenience and cost is often our first consideration when it comes to food. But sticking to a diet of microwave meals, crisps and bread may not be the best option for your health. One way to do your diet a favour is to dedicate part of your week to planning. Let’s say you choose Sunday afternoon, for example. Take an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to plan out your meals for the week. Not only will this help you focus more on what you’re putting into your body, it will help you organise your food shopping and your budget. Make sure that at least 75% of your meals contain a rich mixture of fruits, vegetables, salad items and carbohydrates such as potatoes and pasta. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick to wholegrains, brown rice and sweet potatoes which are lower in carbs. If you are a meat-eater, try to cut down on your meat consumption. Meat-heavy diets are higher in saturated fat and cholesterol.
Tip 2: Exercise
Yep – the ‘E’ word. Exercise seems to bring with it two camps of people, those who live, eat and breathe it, and those who will do anything to avoid it. With our busy lifestyles and need to spend time with family and friends, exercise often takes a back seat. In fact, in a recent sports survey, while 37% of people say they get some form of exercise on an intermittent basis, only 13% said they exercise regularly. It’s not easy, we know – but it doesn’t have to be intensive either. We recommend choosing an activity you enjoy: whether that’s a jog in the park, walking your dog, going for a swim, even playing a game of darts or going for a walk with some friends – moving is better for you than not. You don’t have to have a rigorous workout routine in order to increase your health – even a 20-30 minute walk 4-7 days a week could see improvements in your health and wellbeing. The best thing is to not push yourself or take on too many new habits at once. If you try too much too fast, you are likely to give up. Start with three short walks per week for a couple of weekd, then increase to 5 walks, and go from there.
Tip 3: Look after Your Mind
Don’t neglect your wellbeing. The health of your mind is just as important as (if not more than) your physical health. So, look after your mind. Ways in which to do this can include: keeping a diary; meditation; yoga; counselling and talking therapies; reading, and in fact – exercise. They go hand-in-hand. But ensure you allow yourself the ‘you-time’ to look after your mental wellbeing, however you choose to do so. Even if it means a nice soak in the bath a couple of times a week or listening to a meditation track every morning before work. Trust us, it will make a huge difference. In line with your wellbeing also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. This is essential. Lack of sleep will have a negative impact on all other aspects of your life, including: appetite, energy levels, concentration, mood and diet.
Tip 4: Nature is Good for the Soul
This one is a simple one – spend time outdoors and around nature. Even if it’s a short walk once a week – getting some vitamin D and fresh air can do wonders for your health.
Tip 5: Spend time with Friends
Studies have shown that spending time with the people we love and who care about us is an essential part of our survival. We know it’s often tricky to find the time, but it could be worth it to schedule those much-needed catch up in advance and make them as regular as you can. Being around the people who know us best and have a genuine interest in our wellbeing can dramatically improve our mood and therefore our tendency to want to make positive decisions for our own wellbeing.