A healthy lifestyle encompasses many things:
- Eating healthy foods
- Avoid excessive fats, sugar, and alcohol
- No nicotine
- Drink plenty of water
Doesn’t resemble what you’re doing hey! Well the good news is that it’s never too late to change your habits, and by implementing a healthy lifestyle now, you’ll continue to gain the rewards in the future.
The term “healthy lifestyle” seems to be everywhere in the press, although many don’t pay attention to what it really means. Learning its importance and how to make changes to achieve it can improve the quality and the length of your life.
A healthy lifestyle is composed of a number of factors, of which diet and exercise are the most obvious. Learning to deal with stress, sleeping enough hours, not smoking and drinking responsibly are also part of the equation.
Parents who lead a healthy lifestyle are planting the seeds for their kids to go on to healthy lives as well. With childhood obesity reaching epidemic proportions, leading by example is more important than ever, and so is getting your kids involved in learning to live well, eat better, and deal with stress and lack of exercise.
How healthy is your lifestyle? Many people smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, eat a poor diet, are overweight and are physically inactive. Does this describe you?
- Are you a non smoker?
- Do you drink less than 6 units of alcohol weekly?
- Do you eat fruits and vegetables 5 times a day?
- Is your BMI* (body mass index) 18-25?
- Do you exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 or more times a week?
If you found yourself answering “no” to most of these questions, you are not alone. About 9.4% of the population doesn’t follow any of the healthy lifestyles, 39.6% follow one, 34.2% follow two, 13.8% follow three and only 3% follow four or five.
When responses to each question are broken out individually, this is how the results look:
- 76% do not smoke
- 40% have a healthy weight
- 30% don’t drink alcohol to excess
- 23% eat their fruits and vegetables
- 22% get regular exercise
When you live a healthy lifestyle you can benefit in so many ways. Here are some examples: Reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
- Improve joint stability
- Increase and improve range of movement
- Help maintain flexibility as you age
- Maintain bone mass
- Prevent osteoporosis and fractures
- Improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Enhance self esteem
- Improve memory in elderly people
- Reduce stress
‘By living a healthy life, people can reduce their risk of dying from heart and circulatory disease,” said Judy O’Sullivan of the British Heart Foundation.
The trick to healthy living is making small changes…taking more steps, adding fruit to your cereal, having an extra glass of water…these are just a few ways you can start living healthy without drastic changes.
One of the biggest problems today is lack of activity. We know it’s good for us but avoid it like the plague either because we’re used to being sedentary or afraid that exercise has to be vigorous to be worth our time. The truth is, movement is movement and the more you do, the healthier you’ll be. Even moderate activities like chores, gardening and walking can make a difference.
So, even if you opt for small changes and a more modest weight loss, you can see the benefits are still pretty good. One study has found that just a 10% weight reduction helped obese patients reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and increase longevity.
Get your Body Moving
You can start the process of weight loss now by adding a little more activity to your life. If you’re not ready for a structured program, start small. Every little bit counts and it all adds up to burning more calories.
Once a week, turn off the TV and do something a little more physical with your family. Play games, take a walk…almost anything will be more active than sitting on the couch.
Look for small ways to walk more. When you get the mail, take a walk around the block, take the dog for an extra outing each day or walk on your treadmill for 5 minutes before getting ready for work.
Shovelling snow (snow in November, ridiculous), working in the garden, raking leaves, sweeping the floor…these kinds of activities may not be ‘vigorous’ exercise, but they can keep you moving while getting your house in order.
When you’re on the phone, pace around or even do some cleaning while gabbing. This is a great way to stay moving while doing something you enjoy.
Make a list of all the physical activities you do on a typical day. If you find that the bulk of your time is spent sitting, make another list of all the ways you could move more–getting up each hour to stretch or walk, walk the stairs at work, etc.
If you have come to the decision that living a healthy lifestyle is what you want, then 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. If you have up until now, then now is the time to incorporate it into your life.
Fitness must feature in a healthy lifestyle. Just walking 20 or 30 minutes a day (and not even very fast) can dramatically reduce the risk of premature death. A long, long list of all the benefits of exercising could easily be made.
Eating a healthy diet is another part of the healthy lifestyle. Not only can a clean diet help with weight management, it can also improve your health and quality of life as you get older.
We need to understand why nutrition is necessary to live 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 body.
Eating for a healthy lifestyle should include:
- carbohydrates (breads, cereals and other grains),
- fibre (vegetables, salad and fruit),
- protein (meat, fish, poultry, pulses, nuts, eggs and dairy products),
- Vitamins and Minerals.
- Some fats
These make up the five basic food groups
Try to eat more fruit and veg and less fat, salt and sugar. It is good to ensure that you eat a good amount of starchy foods (rice, bread, pasta and potatoes) and some protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs and pulses. Eat well, be well provides guidance on making healthy eating choices
Most of us are eating far too much salt through bought soups, sauces, biscuits, cereals and ready meals. We only need 6 grams of salt a day – a teaspoonful. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure which leads to increased risk of heart disease or a stroke. Salt – watch it provides advice a salt calculator, and advice on healthy eating and cutting down salt intake.
Our bodies need six to eight glasses or two litres of water every day to ensure everything is in good working order. Drink up! Eat well, be well provides advice on drinking enough and what to drink.
Creating a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean drastic changes. In fact, drastic changes almost always lead to failure. Making small changes in how you live each day can lead to big rewards, so figure out what you can to be healthy today.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Everyone has responsibility for their own health… there are simple changes they can make in their lives that will have a direct impact on their health.”
They all contribute not only to defining who we are and how we choose to live our lives, but also the impact these choices ultimately have on our health and happiness. You have the power to change your life by choosing the right alternatives available to us all. The good news is that you can be in charge; you can create that healthy lifestyle starting right now.