Healthy Habits to Start Today To Impact Your Health and Quality of Life
It’s no secret that making healthy choices can help us feel better and live longer. Maybe you’ve already tried to get more exercise or sleep, eat better, quit smoking, or reduce stress. It’s not easy and it can be downright frustrating. The good news is that decades of research show that change is possible.
Many of the things you do impact your health and quality of life, now and in the future. You can reduce your risk for the most common, costly, and preventable health problems—such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, and type 2 diabetes—by making healthy choices.
Here are some strategies you can use to set you up for success:
- Start your day with a large glass of lemon water. Your body is 70% water, so it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day, particularly filtered water. It keeps our cells healthy, whisking vital nutrients to where we need them and flushing out toxins that we don’t need. Starting the day with lemon water helps to alkalize your body, keep your cells healthy, energize your mood, replenish your skin and so much more.
- Move every day! Keep moving throughout the day. Add in time for exercise such as strength training, aerobic activity and stress relieving activities such as yoga and pilates. Short on time? Take a walk, climb the stairs at work or take each pile of laundry up the stairs one at a time, do some gardening or house cleaning, play basketball or Frisbee with your kids. It all adds up. Exercise boosts your mood and gives your body the strength it needs to increase your wellness and longevity in life.
- Add greens. When it comes to vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting chemicals, leafy green vegetables are hard to beat. Leafy greens are low in calories, fat free, high in fiber, a good source of cancer-fighting vitamins A and C, and they're an exceptional source of antioxidants. They improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, promote healthy intestinal flora, clear congestion (great for people with asthma), plus improve liver, gallbladder and kidney function. Studies also suggest that eating these leafy green vegetables a few times a week can keep your memory sharp as you get older. One of the best ways to increase your greens is to eat more green vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard greens, bok choy, and swiss chard. If you or your family does not like the taste of these vegetables whole, try adding spinach or kale to your morning smoothie. You can also sauté greens with olive oil and garlic and toss into your favorite pasta or chicken dish.
- Eat more protein. If you find yourself eating processed foods (junk food/fried foods/high-sugar foods), especially when feeling sad, anxious or angry, try eating more high-quality, nutrient-dense protein. Eating more protein can help curb sugar cravings and stabilize mood swings and energy levels. For your next afternoon snack, try almonds and an apple, hummus and carrots, reduced fat cheese on whole grain tortilla chips, or a hard-boiled egg with a piece of fruit.
- Nourish your mind. With the fast pace of everyday life, it may be time for you to try meditation. Besides alleviating stress, daily meditation also supports improved productivity, boosts your mood, and fosters self-control. Staying with a meditation practice — even just 10 minutes each day — will help your body and mind reap all the benefits meditation has to offer. Not sure where to begin? Check out some free online guided meditations. Most important, don’t worry too much about the technique. Focus on your breath and be patient with yourself.
Written by board-certified Health Coach, Heather Phillips. Heather is also the Memorial Hospital Community Health Program Manager for Population Health.