Being healthy isn’t a complicated process, but it requires commitment and consistency. Most healthy practices are simple and can be described in just a few sentences, but simple doesn’t always mean easy.
Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. That’s where we come in—we can help.
We’ve compiled a few of our favorite quick and simple health tips to give you a jumpstart for the New Year. We’ve included quitting smoking and changing your diet, as those are two of the most frequent New Year’s resolutions we see.
Drink half your weight in ounces of water daily.
Most of us are chronically dehydrated. We drink coffee, sports drinks, soda, and juice instead of plain old water. Those drinks are better than nothing, but they can’t beat water in terms of hydrating the body.
Filtered, pure water is best to rejuvenate the body and keep the organs, brain, and blood healthy.
Drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day is fine for someone who weighs 125 pounds, but if you weigh more, you need to drink more. Divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces a day.
Some find it helpful to keep a large water bottle handy and refill it at lunch and after work. Keep it with you and set an alarm to drink, if you need to.
Ditch the sugar.
We have a love-hate relationship with sugar. We know it’s harmful to our health, but it’s so delicious. In fact, we love sugar so much that we eat over 150 pounds of it each year. That comes out to about 12.5 pounds a month.
When you consider that one soda pop has at least 10 teaspoons of sugar, it’s easy to see how it adds up.
If you need reasons to give up sugar, think about the specific ways sugar wrecks your health. It causes wild fluctuations in your blood sugar, causing you to overeat and gain weight.
Sugar spikes also cause your pancreas to work overtime pumping out insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Sugar raises your triglyceride levels and causes widespread inflammation in your body, which leads to stress on the immune system and heart disease.
Reduce stress with deep breathing exercises.
Stress can raise cortisol levels and blood pressure, and it keeps your body on high alert. A certain amount of stress is unavoidable in today’s society, but how you deal with it determines how negatively it affects your health.
A fast, easy way to calm down and relieve anxiety is to simply breathe deeply through the nose for four seconds, hold it for four seconds, and exhale through the mouth for four seconds. If you purse your lips when you exhale, you can easily exhale all the air from your lungs. Repeat 5–10 times.
Giving up cigarettes is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. It’s no picnic, but the benefits are great. As you can imagine, it’s a great feeling to no longer be a slave to cigarettes, and you can find plenty of ways to spend the money you used to spend on smoking.
If quitting smoking is on your healthy habits list, check out our blog for tips to prepare for your quit.
Wash your hands.
The flu shot isn’t the best way to avoid the flu, but washing your hands regularly is. You should wash your hands before you handle food, before and after changing a diaper or helping anyone to the bathroom, after going to the bathroom yourself, and after you’ve been to any public place.
We suggest using this process to wash your hands:
- Ready two paper towels and turn on the water to warm.
- Rinse your hands and apply plenty of soap.
- Rub your hands briskly for at least 20 seconds. The friction is what kills the germs. (You do NOT need antibacterial soap—all soap kills bacteria.) As you rub, be sure to get the front and back of both hands, the wrists, the knuckles, between the fingers, and under the fingernails.
- Rinse thoroughly, and dry your hands with one towel. Use the other to turn off the faucet and open the bathroom door.
Move every day.
Not all of us can fit in 30 minutes of activity at once. Try moving in small increments, five or ten minutes at a time. Don’t think of it as exercise, think of it as moving.
Park the car farther away from the office than you normally do. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the dog twice a day for at least 10 minutes. Shovel the snow yourself, or do more yard work yourself.
Be creative, and you’ll find several movement opportunities throughout your day.
Make healthy food choices.
Eating better is easier said than done. We have an abundance of food choices now that we didn’t ten or fifteen years ago. With that said, most of those new choices are not good ones. We eat out of bags and boxes instead of real, fresh food.
We go to drive-throughs and restaurants more often than not. We aren’t mindful of what we eat; all we know is that we’re hungry and the food is there.
Think about what you eat, and plan your meals. Shop the perimeter of the store, where you are likely to find whole, real foods. Choose lean meats, grass-fed or organic if possible. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables of different colors.
If your sweet tooth is acting up, eat some berries or dark chocolate. Eat foods as close to their natural states as possible.
Meditation helps you relax, be aware of your body, and reduce stress. It can also lower blood pressure, reduce depression, and promote better sleep.
When you meditate, you train your mind to be in tune with your body, and you can learn to reduce your anxiety quickly. Some like to meditate while sitting or lying down, while others combine movement with meditation. Yoga and tai chi partner well with meditation.
Stop and smell the roses.
One of the best ways to reduce stress and increase happiness is to simply stop what you’re doing and relax. Take a few moments to yourself and do what makes you happy.
Is it a quick nap? Is it watching your kids play sports, or taking the dog for a long walk? Maybe you like to bake, have a pedicure, or play a quiet game of chess.
Put your phone on vibrate and leave it in another room. Unplug for at least an hour a day.
Get a good night’s sleep.
You can’t be healthy if your sleep isn’t restful. Plan your sleep like you plan other areas of your life. Know how much sleep you need a night (it’s probably one or two more hours than you think), and plan your night so you begin winding down an hour or two before you need to go to bed.
Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol within a few hours of bedtime, and don’t expect to fall asleep with the television or computer on.
Keep the bedroom as dark as possible, and if you can adjust the temperature to be a couple of degrees cooler than the rest of the house, you’ll sleep better.
We hope these health tips will help create a healthier you. If you have questions, or if you would like our help, please let us know.