8 Ways To A Healthier Lifestyle in 2012!
1. Exercise Regularly. There have been thousands upon thousands of studies confirming the positive benefits (both mental and physical) of getting regular exercise. The medical community has concluded that regular cardiovascular exercise is necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise) for heart health. Exercise is proven to help keep body weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure, within normal ranges. Further, I believe it was the former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop who stated that being physically inactive was as detrimental to one’s health as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day.
2. Don’t abuse your body. This one sounds simple, doesn’t it? This refers to things like smoking cigarettes, over indulging in alcohol consumption, eating a poor diet, failing to get the proper amount of sleep on a regular basis, etc. Chances are if you bought a $5,000 thoroughbred horse, you wouldn’t feed it a garbage diet and let it drink booze and smoke cigarettes. A healthy body is priceless, make sure you treat it as such.
3. Get regular check-ups. One of the keys to staying healthy is to get regular check-ups from a qualified physician. A thorough annual physical including blood work and whatever screenings are appropriate based on your age and family medical history are crucial to maintaining optimum health. If you are over 30 years old make your annual check-up a priority. Many medical issues can be successfully treated if they are discovered early – do yourself a favor and get an annual check-up.
4. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. A healthy diet must include generous servings of fruits and vegetables, lean sources of protein, whole grains and minimize fast food and processed foods. Take a multi-vitamin to make sure all your bases are covered, avoid foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, cut back on sodas and caffeinated beverages and avoid any sort of binge eating or drinking. We often talk about the 70 / 30 rule. This rule means that 70% of your meals are healthy and nourishing and 30% are things that you will enjoy in moderation, but provide little benefit to your health. Naturally, one can modify this ratio to 80/20 or 90/10 but the fact is most people do the opposite and eat garbage 70% of the time and healthy foods about 30% of the time.
5. Drink Water : Most people do not drink enough water and this results in chronic dehydration. Symptoms of chronic dehydration include: fatigue, constipation, abnormal blood pressure, digestive disorders, obesity, and even premature aging! The old rule of “drink eight 8 oz. glasses of water a day” is a good guideline – however recent studies indicate men need closer to 12 glasses of water and women need about 9 glasses of water for optimal hydration. Most people fall WAY short of this. Remember, this is plain water – soda, coffee, tea, & "Vitamin Water" drinks do not count toward this total.
6. Take time to relax and de-stress: Stress-influenced medical conditions include: depression, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, ulcers and much more. Take time out to do things you enjoy. Spend time with your family, go for a walk in the park, take a Yoga class, participate in a hobby you enjoy, meditate, take a day off from work – whatever it takes to maintain homeostasis and avoid chronic or extreme stress.
7. Get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there is no magic number here. But most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. A 2005 Harvard University study noted that adults who sleep less than 7 hours per night are more likely to be obese, had an increased risk of certain cancers, heart disease and diabetes. Turn off the television and get some sleep!
8. Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity has been linked to a virtual laundry-list of serious health conditions including, but not limited to: heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, gallbladder disease and gallstones, osteoarthritis, and gout. According to an article on WebMd, “Doctors generally agree that the more obese a person is the more likely he or she is to have health problems. People who are 20% or more overweight can gain significant health benefits from losing weight. Many obesity experts believe that people who are less than 20% above their healthy weight should still try to lose weight...” A good general guideline for the average man or woman is BMI, or Body Mass Index. There are many websites that have BMI calculators.
One more quick word on the subject of living a healthy lifestyle…
Many people are quick to point out that they simply “Don’t have the time” to exercise. According to A.C. Nielsen and a Harris Interactive pole, the average American watches 4 hours of TV each day and spends 13 hours on the Internet each week. That means that most people have more than the equivalent of a full time job (41 hours a week!) wasting their time watching TV and playing on Facebook and YouTube. If the average person disciplined themselves to cut their TV and Internet usage by 10% they would have 4 free hours to get some much needed exercise– think about it.