RESOLVE TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH & LIFESTYLE!
6 simple ways to look after your body and why it is important to start NOW!
Rarely a week goes by these days when we don’t seem to hear of new studies into the alarming rate of obesity throughout the Western world, both in adults and now, more alarmingly, in children. With the rise in the number of working families, the amount of junk food and ready meals that are now available in the supermarkets, and the increasing addiction with computer technology keeping us indoors when we should be out in the fresh air, it is hardly surprising that we are filling up the hospitals with weight related diseases such as diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.
It is extremely important that we try to reverse this trend before it is too late – by maintaining a healthy body, the chances are that we will significantly improve our quality of life and extend our life expectancy. But what exactly should we do to look after our body? Take a look at these 6 steps and see what you can do to live a healthier, happier life:-
1) Make time for rest and relaxation.
How often do we rush around from one job to another, trying to cram as much as we can into the day, grabbing a quick snack here and there to fit in with our daily lifestyle, then fall into bed exhausted, yet an hour later, wonder why we are unable to fall asleep? It is really important to build relaxation into your day and have a winding down hour before bed. Practising yoga, or meditation, listening to relaxing music, watching the TV or reading a book are all excellent ways to switch off and put your body into a relaxed state before bedtime. Then aim to get 6 – 8 hours quality sleep each night, and you will wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day ahead.
2) Build exercise into your daily routine
Regular exercise is vital to maintaining a healthy active body, but this doesn’t mean pumping iron or running a marathon. Aim for a minimum of 20 minutes, 3 times per week. If you don’t like the thought of taking up sport, then brisk walking, using the stairs instead of the lift, cycling to the local shops rather than using the car or getting off the tram/bus one stop early and walking the last little bit are all excellent ways of helping the body to get active. If you want to be more energetic, go swimming with a friend, learn to dance, or take up a new sports oriented hobby such as fencing, rock climbing or rowing.
3) Look after your heart
The following recent facts based on US data give much cause for concern, especially when you consider that Europeans always seem to catch up with their American counterparts after a few years. Basically, research has shown that since 1900, heart disease has been the number 1 killer in the US, claiming as many lives each year as the next 7 causes of death combined. In 1999, cardiovascular disease was responsible for over 40% of all deaths in the US, and on average, a death from a “coronary event” takes place about once every minute
If you don’t want to be a “statistic”, seriously consider taking steps towards the following:
- stop smoking, (or at least cut down considerably)
- Keep alcohol to a minimum
- Reduce your stress levels
- Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control
- Maintain a healthy weight
4) Maintain a healthy weight
In 1999, almost 108 million adult Americans were overweight or obese. If you are overweight or obese, carrying this extra weight puts you at risk of developing many diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Losing this weight helps to prevent and control these diseases. But how do you know if you are overweight?
Often, you hear the two phrases “Body mass index” and “body fat percentage” spoken about, but what exactly are these two measurements?
Basically, body mass index (or BMI as it is usually referred to), is simply your height to weight ratio. You can calculate your BMI very simply by dividing your weight (in Kgs) by your height squared. For example, if you weigh 50kg and you are 1.6 metres tall, your BMI is 50 divided by 2.56 (1.6 X 1.6), giving you a BMI of 19.53. A normal BMI falls between 18.5 and 25, with anything over 25 putting you in the overweight/obese category. This calculation works equally well for both men and women, however for certain groups of people, such as athletes, who have a lot of lean muscle and very little fat, or the elderly, whose muscles are generally starting to waste away, the result can be misleading.
As such, it is often more accurate to use the body fat % measurement. Basically this looks at your body in terms of 2 specific areas – the bad stuff, or the % fat you are carrying, and the good stuff, being everything else, including muscle, skin and bone. A normal bodyfat % for a man is between 15 – 18% and for a woman 22 – 25%. Anything more than 7% above these upper values should be an immediate cause for concern.
The most accurate way of measuring this bodyfat is in a flotation tank, however there are now many types of machines and scales that can be purchased at a reasonable cost to assess and monitor your situation.
5) Eat healthily
Healthy eating is only a matter of making sensible choices. If you can try to follow these rules, you will be taking significant steps towards improving your overall health, and not only should you lose weight, but you should also find that you have a significant increase in your energy levels too:
- It is more important to reduce your intake of saturated fats (those that are solid at room temperature) than it is to control calories
- Ensure you eat 5 – 7 portions of fruit and vegetables each day to provide vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre which helps to maintain your organs and immune system.
- It is essential not to become obsessed with food and what is or isn’t good for you. It’s OK to eat the foods you love, but if they tend to be the ones high in fat, sugar and salt, just eat them in moderation.
- Eat plenty of protein – this is crucial for the maintenance of healthy tissue, muscle formation and energy levels. If you don’t eat enough, you can seriously damage your heart, so know the right amount for you and the best sorts of protein to eat.
-Drinking water is especially important. At least 1.5 litres a day (tea and coffee doesn’t count towards this amount) will help you to flush out waste from your body and keep you properly hydrated. By drinking a large glass of water 30 minutes before a meal, you will also tend to eat less.
If you are going to diet, choose a sensible, healthy option that will see a slow, long term weight loss rather than a crash diet, where you will inevitably end up putting the weight back on. Studies have shown that “home designed” diets rarely work, as simply trying to eat less of the same foods doesn’t give you the nourishment and satisfaction you need, so you end up getting too hungry and giving up. When choosing a diet, select one that is going to fit in with your lifestyle and ensure that it contains all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your body needs on a daily basis to keep it fit and healthy.
In summary, with very few exceptions, every human being wants to be healthier, leaner, fitter and stronger than they currently are. Whereas in the past, ageing consumers were told to accept their deteriorating physical condition and take modern medicines to relieve the inevitable symptoms that arise as a result of getting old, there is now another way to approach life.
Often, the body pain, fatigue and many other common ailments that are suffered by millions everyday are simply the direct result of an awful diet and not taking care of the body. By proactively making the simple changes above to feel healthier and look better, not only are we doing ourselves the greatest of favours, but we are possibly even extending our lives by several years.
Is it so hard to make the decision to look after ourselves better? At the end of the day we only have one body, and the earlier we start to look after it, the longer we can expect to look and feel better. So – are you ready to make the change?
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