5 Tips to Improve Health
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but there are several other ways to improve your health. Prioritizing good nutrition, sleep and exercise can help you thrive during this pandemic.
Avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. Eat a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
1. Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep is essential for healthy thinking and functioning. While you’re asleep, your body and brain are working hard to perform important tasks, including repairing cells and storing memories. However, many people don’t get enough quality sleep. This can affect their mood, memory, and mental health.
A good night’s sleep can improve your mood and boost your immune system. It can also help you manage stress and make healthier decisions. If you’re not getting enough sleep, you may be at risk of developing certain health problems, such as heart disease and obesity.
Some things may interfere with your ability to sleep well, such as an irregular schedule or stressful events. But, there are some simple things you can do to get better sleep, such as going to bed at the same time each night and avoiding caffeinated beverages or heavy meals late in the day. If you still can’t fall asleep or feel tired during the day, see your doctor. They can help you figure out what’s preventing you from sleeping well and prescribe treatments, if necessary.
2. Eat a healthy diet
The foods you eat provide the energy your body needs to function. Eating a healthy diet helps prevent diseases, maintain a healthy weight, and boost mood.
The key is to eat a variety of foods from each of the five food groups. Make smart choices from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, and dairy to limit sugar, fat, and salt.
Swap processed fats (like fried chicken or potato chips) for lean proteins and unsaturated fats. Add beans and nuts to your meals. Use salad dressings made with olive oil or other low-fat oils. Opt for lower-fat, unsweetened milk and yogurt.
Be aware of the calorie count in alcoholic beverages and sodas. Having too many calories can lead to weight gain. Eat smaller portions and eat more frequent meals to help manage hunger. Avoid skipping meals as this can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. Use a reusable water bottle to reduce bottled waste and keep hydrated. Avoid foods high in sodium (like table salt) and added sugars, such as syrups and ice cream. Try adding herbs and spices to foods to boost flavor.
3. Exercise regularly
Achieving a regular exercise routine may require some initial commitment, but most people find that once it becomes part of their lifestyle, the benefits are immediate and lasting. Regular exercise can reduce the risk of many health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. It can also help to relieve stress, improve sleep, and give you more energy.
Researchers and health professionals recommend that adults participate in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. Ideally, exercise should be done in 10- to 15-minute chunks throughout the day rather than one long bout of intense activity.
To increase your chances of sticking with an exercise program, choose activities that you enjoy and can fit into your schedule. For example, instead of jogging, try cycling, swimming or taking group exercise classes. Consider changing up your routine to keep it interesting and challenging. Try adding new elements of fitness like yoga or a new hiking trail. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
4. Stay hydrated
Hydration is important for every cell in your body. It helps regulate body temperature, removes waste, and lubricates joints. Water is also critical during exercise, as it replaces fluids lost through sweating. Drinking adequate amounts of water can help prevent muscle cramps and reduce the risk of heat stroke.
A good general guide is to drink eight glasses of water daily. If you have trouble meeting this goal, try adding fruits and vegetables that contain high amounts of water (such as watermelon), low-sugar fruit juices, or iced tea to your diet. Also, try consuming water with a meal and skipping sugary drinks.
Certain situations may require you to drink more water, such as physical activity or exercise, hot or humid weather, and times when you’re sick with fever, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you have a health condition, such as heart disease or diabetes, consult your doctor for personalized recommendations. Getting enough fluids is easy, but it’s important to stick with the habit and not let it slip. Set a goal to have a glass of water when you wake up, drink while your coffee is brewing, and make it part of every snack and meal.
5. Reduce stress
Stress can be bad for you. It can cause heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and even depression. Some stress is inevitable — like working a full-time job, raising a family, or caring for aging parents. But most of the time, stress is within our control.
The key is to manage stress in a healthy way. There are many ways to do that, including getting enough sleep and exercising regularly. It’s also important to eat a healthy diet and avoid substances that can increase stress, such as tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine. Taking time to relax by reading, listening to music, or chatting with friends can help.
Try to recognize what situations or people trigger stress in you and find ways to improve them. For instance, if a co-worker consistently irritates you, think about how the situation could be different and see if you can change it by limiting your interactions with that person or setting boundaries. Also, remember that not everything is worth stressing over — ask yourself if the situation will matter in a year or if it’s really a big deal.