Welcome to 10 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle.
Maybe you are here because you’ve decided it is time for you to commit to a healthier lifestyle. If so I’d like to congratulate you because there really can be very few other things as important to you then having a healthy lifestyle due to the benefits it brings.
It seems every time you turn on the Television or read a Newspaper someone is talking about “healthy lifestyles”? It seems to be an incredibly popular topic. Due to its importance there should be no surprise with this. My blog gets a minimum of 500 people a day searching out information on a healthy lifestyle.
But, what I find crazy is how little people still know about a healthy lifestyle. Too many still seem not to know what it really means to have a healthy lifestyle or what they need to do. When they start exploring to develop their understanding so they can make a start, they find themselves getting more and more confused by either conflicting information or in truth a lot of total nonsense people seem to write.
What does it mean to have a healthy lifestyle?
First, let me make it very clear, a healthy lifestyle is far more than just diet and exercise.
In general, most would agree that a healthy person doesn’t smoke, is at a healthy weight, eats a balanced healthy diet and exercises. Doing all four of these things would be a great start towards a healthy lifestyle, but there is more to it than that.
Before I tell you the 10 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle let’s define exactly what is meant by the term a ‘healthy lifestyle.’ To do this let’s first look at the two words separately.
First we will define Health.
The World Health Organisation in 1946 defined health as: “A complete state of mental, physical and social well-being not merely the absence of disease.”
According to Merriam-Webster the definition of health is: “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit.”
My favourite definition is from the Free Dictionary: “a relative state in which one is able to function well physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually in order to express the full range of one’s unique potentialities within the environment in which one is living.”
Now let’s look at the word lifestyle.
It is defined as “the way in which a person lives.”
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines lifestyle as: “A way of life or style of living that reflects the attitudes and values of a person or group.”
Dictionary.com says it is “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.”
Wikipedia defines a lifestyle as the way a person lives. “This includes patterns of social relations, consumption, entertainment, and dress. A lifestyle typically also reflects an individual’s attitudes, values or worldview. A healthy lifestyle is generally characterized as a “balanced life” in which one makes “wise choices”.”
A final definition of lifestyle is: “The aggregation of decisions by individuals which affect their health, and over which they more or less have control.”
So, this now brings us to the point where we can define a healthy lifestyle.
What we know is that your health can be either maintained or improved by:
(1) the advancement and application of health science
(2) through the efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices of the individual and society.
So now bringing it altogether we are in a position to offer a clear definition for the well-used term ‘healthy lifestyle’:
“A healthy lifestyle is making the best daily life choices to preserve good health and well-being, lowering the risk of being seriously ill or dying early.” Larry Lewis
A healthy lifestyle has an incredible number of benefits, for example:
- Reduces the incidence and impact of health problems
- Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Reduction in probability of virtually all diseases
- Increase the length of one’s life
- Improve joint stability and flexibility
- Increase overall strength and stamina
- Maintain bone density
- Prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures
- Improve sense of wellness and mood
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improve self-esteem
- Improved self-confidence
- Improve sharpness and clarity of mind
- Improve memory in elderly people
- Reduce stress
- Improves our quality of life
Let me back this up with a few statistics, just to ensure you truly understand the importance of having a healthy lifestyle.
The NHS annually spends more than:
- £5 billion on obesity-related conditions
- £2.7 billion on alcohol-related conditions
Both of which are the result of lifestyle choices impacting on an individual’s health.
In a report discussing these statistics it was said:
“As a measure to improve the health of the nation, and the resources and sustainability of the NHS, it would be advantageous to explore ways in which an individual’s lifestyle choices could be changed to promote health and prevent lifestyle-related diseases burdening the NHS.” Source: 2013 Scottish Universities Medical Journal
The Health Survey for England 2011 found:
- Obesity has increased substantially over the period of 1993 to 2011 from 13% to 24% in men and 16% to 26% in women.
- 23% of adults are obese with a BMI of over 30 and 61% are overweight or obese with a BMI greater than 25.
- 33% of 10- 11 year olds and 23% of 4-5 year olds also have a BMI greater than 25.
- In 2010, obesity was responsible for 11,173 episodes of treatment in hospitals equating to 25,322 bed days with a mean stay in hospital of 3.7 days.
- If current trends in obesity remain, the estimated annual cost to the NHS in 2015 for diseases related to being overweight and obesity amount to £15 billion with obesity alone predicted to demand £9 billion.
- Doctor-diagnosed diabetes increased in men from 2.9% in 1993 to 7% in 2011, and 1.9% to 4.9% in women over the same time period.
- It is estimated there are 2.8 million people with diabetes and it is predicted to increase to 4 million by 2025.
- The rise in obesity is predicted to correlate with a rise in diabetes prevalence of 6-8.5 million and 5.7-7.3 million cases of stroke and heart disease.
It drew the conclusion that:
” More needs to be done to change the attitudes and behaviours of individuals to lifestyle choices in order to promote health and prevent disease, consequently easing the strain on NHS services and resources that is currently imposed upon them. ”
Compelling evidence for the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Finally let me share this information.
An overweight person by achieving a proper weight level can:
- Cut their risk of heart disease by up to 25%,
- Reduce their risk of a heart attack by 29%,
- Reduce their risk of diabetes by up to 64%,
- Reduce their risk of having high cholesterol by 33%,
- Reduce their risk of dying from any cause by 16%,
- Reduce their risk of asthma by 30%,
- Reduce their risk of stomach cancer by 10%,
- Reduce their risk of gallstones by 60%,
- Cut their risk of osteoarthritis by 12%,
- Reduce their risk of oesophageal cancer by 55%,
- Cut their risk of having high blood pressure by 44%.
Surely you only have one choice, to now start implementing a healthy lifestyle.
So, what do you have to do to get started. Let me now share with you the 10 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle
1. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is the greatest single self-inflicted risk to health of all. It causes things such as respiratory illness, coronary heart disease, cancer. Smoking kills around 120,000 people prematurely in the UK every year – more than 13 people every hour. It is also responsible for many diseases, including cancers, heart disease and stroke. So, if you want a healthy lifestyle you can’t smoke, simple!
2. Don’t Drink To Excess
Here is the good news for some of you. I’m not advocating never drinking alcohol. I will hold my hands up to enjoying the occasional glass of red wine. Indeed there is a lot of research which suggests drinking small quantities of alcohol can reduce the risk of heart disease. However as the amount and number of times a week you drink increases, then so do the risks. My suggestion is if you aren’t a drinker don’t start. If you are then limit your amounts to lower the health risks.
To keep health risks from alcohol to a low level, the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) advised that it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis.
One unit is 10ml of pure alcohol. Because alcoholic drinks come in different strengths and sizes units are a good way of telling how strong your drink is. It’s not as simple as one drink, one unit. The new alcohol unit guidelines are equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or six 175ml glasses of average strength wine.
3. Don’t Drink Coffee To Excess
Ok I’ll be honest, this was one of my hardest challenges. I’m a coffee addict. I simply love sitting in Costa or Starbucks coffee shops writing my articles. Simply Heaven. But as they say too much of a good thing isn’t actually good for you. Studies do show that drinking coffee can lower risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes, neurological disorders and liver diseases. So, in the right amounts it’s definitely good for you. However, just because a little bit of something is good, it doesn’t mean that too much will be as well. Again I’m not saying you have to cut out coffee or tea entirely. But you do have to limit your consumption. In its guidelines on caffeine consumption, the EU’s food safety watchdog has advised a daily limit of 400mg. This equates to about 4 cups of coffee.
4. Have An Active Lifestyle
People who don’t get enough physical activity are much more likely to develop health problems. There are many ways each one of you can have a more active lifestyle. Whether you are a busy mum or dad, young or old, an office or factory worker, or whatever it is you do, you can build physical activity into your life. In this particular case I’m not referring to fitness, or sports, but in its far simplest term, getting busy using and moving your body. Everybody, regardless of age, shape, size and ability needs to become more active every day. We should all be moving more incorporating activity into your daily life. Try not to sit for hours on end. I suggest in every hour you get up and walk around for between 5 – 10 minutes.
5. Include Fitness As Part Of Your Life
You will need to include fitness as part of your life. Physical fitness keeps your weight in check, helps you sleep better at night, prevents heart attacks and strokes and other health problems, and generally prolongs your life. Basically there are so many benefits of exercising that you really can’t live a full life without it. Physical fitness is necessary to stimulate the body’s own natural maintenance and repair system. Your bones, joints and muscles – especially your heart – will actually stay younger if you keep them busy. If you are not Physically Active you increase your Health Risks in many ways. According to guidelines from the UK Chief Medical Officer, we should aim to take part in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. One of the best and easiest methods of exercising is walking. Costs nothing so go on get moving.
6. Practice Healthy Eating
Healthy Eating is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle. It is probably the most important of the 10 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle. Your body requires a well-balanced diet every day in order to maintain the adequate amounts of vitamins, nutrients and minerals needed to maintain a healthy weight and body as well as protect you from certain diseases. I’m not going to make any specific suggestions in this post, but keep an eye out for future articles about intermittent plant based dieting, something I now believe in very strongly mainly because it has totally revitalized my own life after long term illness.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Shakespeare described sleep as “the chief nourisher in life’s feast”, acknowledging that for most of us deep rest is necessary for keeping body, mind and spirit in good form. Getting enough sleep is vital if you want to live a healthy lifestyle. Getting enough continuous quality sleep contributes to how we feel and perform the next day, but also has a huge impact on the overall quality of our lives. Getting enough sleep refers to the amount of sleep you need to feel rested and alert the next day. Most sleep experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Although some people can get along with less sleep, others find they need as much as 10 hours per night to feel rested the next day.
8. Maintain Personal Hygiene
Maintaining good personal hygiene is another important step for a healthy lifestyle. Personal hygiene involves those practices performed by an individual to care for one’s bodily health and well being, through cleanliness. Practicing good body hygiene also helps us to feel good about our self, which is also important for our mental health.
9. Drink Plenty Of Water
Water is essential to a healthy lifestyle. Cut out or reduce the sodas, beers, sports drinks and cordials. Instead drink water, lots of it. Most of you probably don’t drink enough water. Without water, you will die. When you don’t take enough of it, your performance and results will suffer. Water is essential for our body to function. It is involved in all metabolic processes. It helps everything from electrolyte balance to hydration, digestion, metabolism, kidney health, lower incidence of urinary infection and protein synthesis. When we are properly hydrated our heart and blood vessels work much better, along with all of our other bodily functions—we think better, our strength and endurance are better, we feel better, we are healthier, and we will live longer. Aim to drink at least 2 litres every single day. I carry around with me a water bottle and refill it 3 or 4 times throughout the day.
10. Practice Stress Management
The last of the 10 Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle concerns getting your stress under control. Emotional stress is responsible for a huge range of physical and mental illness so stress management is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Stress Management can be defined as interventions designed to reduce the impact of stressors in your life giving you the individual more of an ability to cope with the stressors you face. The goal of Stress Management is to help you to manage the stress of everyday life. Adopt Relaxation Techniques to reduce the effect on your body and mind such as Deep Breathing, Progressive Muscular Relaxation and Meditation.
So there you have it 10 steps to a healthy lifestyle. I’d love to hear about your success… so once you’ve put these methods into practice for a few weeks and experienced great results, go ahead and shoot me a message and tell me all about it. This kind of success inspires those to do just as you will have done, and that’s a beautiful thing!