Many chronic diseases are caused by lifestyle issues. People tend not to exercise as much as they should, they allow themselves to become overweight, and they eat unhealthy foods that lead to things like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and strokes.
The problem with lifestyle issues is that they are difficult to turn around. Many people try to change their lifestyle all at once, which is extremely difficult to accomplish. As a result, they often give up all of their healthy habits and resort to the usual negative health habits that they had been doing before they attempted a healthy lifestyle.
Sometimes it just takes a few days or a few weeks of trying to live healthy before the individual becomes overwhelmed and stops living healthy. They stop exercising and go back to eating processed foods and junk foods.
This is why it is better to change your health habits one habit at a time so that you don’t become overwhelmed and stop trying to be healthy altogether.
Most weight loss programs work if they are done carefully and don’t deprive the individual too much. The same is true of exercise programs. If you choose an exercise that you really enjoy or increase your physical activity more gradually, you can usually stick to the program so that you don’t become discouraged and quit exercising altogether.
The trick to health living is to begin gradually. Don’t try any trendy diet or fitness fad. If you try these things with gusto, you are likely to respond negatively and you won’t stick with the programs.
There are a few simple things you can do to live a happier and healthier life. Start with just these 5 changes in health habits:
1. Try eating one healthy meal a day.
Even if you eat processed foods most of the time, if you try to eat just one healthy food each day, you will feed your body with good nutrition and healthy proteins. Healthy meals consist of mainly fruits and vegetables, supplemented with whole grain products, and lean meats.
It doesn’t matter how much you eat because, if the food is healthy for you, it won’t usually contain a lot of calories and won’t cause weight gain as can be seen when you eat junk foods or highly processed foods. Even so, you should try to watch your portion sizes.
2. Drink a glass of water before each meal.
Water is perhaps the best liquid you can drink. When you decide to drink a glass of water before meals, (an 8-ounce glass is enough), you will feel fuller before eating, and you won’t eat as much at the meal that follows a drink of water.
3. Be active during lunch.
Even if you are given a half-hour to eat, it usually doesn’t take that long to eat your meals. Try eating your meals and then take some time to exercise. You don’t have to work out excessively but you should be able to take a brisk walk. Not only will this energize you but also it will help burn off the calories you just ate and will aid in the digestive process.
It really doesn’t matter what type of exercise you do as long as you choose something reasonable that will help you feel better after eating your lunch. Exercising during lunch also helps decrease the stress of your job and will make the rest of your day go easier.
4. Try a Meal Replacement Bar.
This involves eating a healthy protein bar as a snack instead of junk foods. Most meal replacement bars contain a lot of good nutrition and fiber. They are also not as calorie-rich as you would think. They help stave off hunger pangs that are so typical of the midafternoon time.
Keep a stash of these protein bars in your desk at work or in your purse or brief case so you can grab one whenever you feel hungry. It will keep you from going to the vending machines and eating poor food choices. Try eating a meal replacement bar that is high in fiber and that has at least 10 to 15 grams of protein per bar.
5. Exercise regularly.
If you have a gym membership, try going there at least 3-4 times per week. Choose an activity you enjoy and make the most of it for at least a half hour per session. This will help energize you, may build muscle mass, and will help you lose weight by burning off excess calories.
There are a number of leisure activities that will promote your wellbeing, and you will be delighted to know that they don’t all involve physical activity, though that is vital to your health. Below we address just a few of the leisure activities that you can indulge in in a bid to promote your wellbeing.
The wonderful aspect of gardening is that it provides you with physical activity, while you spend time out in the sunshine to enjoy your day. It might just seem like a hobby, but gardening offers health benefits: exercise, stress relief, nutrition, and even brain health as you’re keeping your mind active as you tend to your garden.
There are a number of studies that prove this to be so. One study in the Netherlands, which had one group of subjects garden after stressful activity, and the other read a book- it was the gardeners that saw their mood improve the most. If you have a community garden within reach, it is ideal as it allows human interaction.
Dancing is a wonderful activity that promotes energy, vitality, physical health and an improved mood to support your overall wellbeing at any age! There are many types of dance styles, from ballroom to hip-hop to square dancing and everything in between. Grab a partner or find one at any of the local dance schools near you and get to stepping!
The American Psychological Association recommends cooking as a leisure activity. When you consider that it not only gets you up and about, but that it requires thinking, thus keeping your mind active, it makes sense that it would be considered an important activity to your overall wellbeing.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health also points to the fact that you are more likely to eat a healthy nutritious diet when you are spending time in the kitchen. If you happen to be cooking with products that you grew in your own garden, then you are in an even healthier position.
C3 Health offers a number of graphs with statistics about obesity across the world, in addition the activities that can help you counter against it. Light walking is sufficient to promote your wellbeing, helping battle against diabetes, not to mention lowering BMI, fighting high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
In fact, let’s put it like this: 6% of deaths across the world can be attributed to physical inactivity, while it is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, globally. That equates to over 3 million deaths annually, with almost 700,000 of them being premature.
Walking is an ideal place to start, you can increase it daily and branch out to other activities like tennis, cycling, or whatever else you may prefer. If you can join a club to get time socializing, then that is wonderful, as human contact is important to your wellbeing.
Yoga & Meditation
Yoga is one of the holistic ancient methods that has been used for thousands of years; it aims to treat the entire body. Not only do you employ breathing techniques, but also the poses allow you to lead your body through stretches, which will keep you flexible.
It reduces aches and pains, and also helps prevent injury, especially in the event of a fall. While you are focused on breathing through your postures, you are shutting everything else out and becoming one with yourself.
Yoga offers incredible physical benefits in addition to mental health benefits, since it is a stress relieving exercise it can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The majority of leisure activities offer the same benefits: reduction of stress, which can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, exercise to improve your physical being, keeping your mind active, and depending on where you can enjoy your activity, it can keep you social.
Social interaction is the other key aspect of a leisure activity, while you can complete any of these activities at home and alone it is beneficial to spend some time socializing with others.
Heart health doesn’t happen by itself and it usually doesn’t happen overnight. There are some decisions you can make today that can start you on a path towards having a healthy heart. Here are six things you can do today to boost your heart health so you don’t fall victim to heart attacks, strokes, or peripheral vascular disease:
1. Look through your pantry.
There are things you can eat that will increase your risk for heart disease, just as there are things you can eat that will reduce your risk of heart disease. Check your pantry for foods that are high in cholesterol, such as meats, high fat dairy products, and certain processed foods. Processed foods are also high in bad fats, such as trans fats, although the US government has made progress in reducing trans fats in the foods you purchase. Look for foods that are high in dietary sugar and replace them with low sugar foods and foods that contain no sugar. Instead of red meat, you can choose fatty fish, which are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are considered heart healthy. Instead of cakes and cookies, you can satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruits, which are high in dietary fiber and antioxidants, which have health benefits you can’t get through eating low fiber, high sugar foods.
2. Start an exercise program.
This means getting off the couch and getting out there to do some form of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is particularly good at increasing your heart rate, increasing your respiratory rate, and lowering your blood pressure. You should aim to exercise in an aerobic exercise about 30 minutes per day on most days of the week. Aerobic exercises you can do include brisk walking, running, jogging, using a stair-stepper, bicycling, and swimming. Swimming is especially good for people who want to exercise but cannot tolerate the wear and tear on the joints. You should also consider doing some kind of weight training about two days per week. Weight training tones muscles and increases your basal metabolic rate so that you can burn calories more effectively, even without exercising. You should make exercise a family affair so you can do things as a group and reduce all of your family’s risks of heart disease.
3. Schedule a blood sugar screening.
You can reduce your risk of heart disease by having your blood sugar checked for the presence of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Both conditions can be detected by doing a fasting blood test. Values of blood glucose that are between 100 and 125 on a fasting basis mean you have pre-diabetes and should follow your blood sugars more closely so you don’t develop diabetes mellitus. Fasting blood sugars of 125 or more mean you have diabetes and must do things like lower your blood glucose levels such as eat a low sugar diet, exercise, and take medications to reduce your blood sugar. Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease but it is a risk factor you can reverse if you follow your doctor’s instructions.
4. Schedule a sleep study.
If you are told that you snore, you may be suffering from sleep apnea, which is a known risk factor for heart disease. When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing during your sleep and wake up suddenly, gasping for air even though you don’t remember it in the morning. Sleep apnea will raise your blood pressure during the day, not to mention that it makes you tired during the daytime. If you are effectively diagnosed with sleep apnea and undergo treatment (which can mean using continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP, or make steps to reduce your weight), you can lessen your risk for heart disease and can have a better quality of life.
5. Reduce your stress level.
Stress will raise your blood pressure and your heart rate, both things that cause you to have an increased risk of stress on your heart. You can reduce stress by avoiding those things that cause you to be stressed and can learn the art of several stress-reducing practices, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qi dong. Some of these practices have more benefit to your body besides reducing stress, such as increasing flexibility, strength, and balance.
6. Schedule a cholesterol check.
Cholesterol in your bloodstream can cause a buildup of cholesterol-containing plaques that increase the risk of blood clots that can cause various types of heart disease. You can lower your cholesterol by eating foods low in cholesterol and saturated fats, or by taking medication that will lower your cholesterol level, keeping heart disease at bay.