As we welcome in a new year, let’s remember that health is not merely the absence of disease, it’s a lifestyle. Whether it’s getting enough sleep, enjoying a hobby or learning to set limits with others in your life, it’s important to take time to be good to yourself. Take steps to balance work, home, play and others’ expectations for you. Pay attention to your health, and make healthy living a part of your life.
Here are our six tips for a healthy 2014:
1. Eat nutritiously
Sure it’s easier said than done, but start with small changes you can make that will help you develop nutritious habits. What you eat—and drink—and what you don’t eat and drink can definitely make a difference to your health. Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day and less saturated fat can help improve your health and may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Eat a balanced diet and watch your portion sizes.
Depending on your personality, you may wish to master one tip before moving to the next or you may prefer to do an “all or nothing” approach. Check out our healthy eating tips here.
2. Get moving
Keep in mind that any activity that gets your body moving and heart pumping is exercise. Cleaning your house, parking your car farther away and walking to your destination as well as taking the stairs instead of the elevator all add up.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week. If you haven’t been getting regular exercise, you should work up to these recommendations.
Here are some suggestions to help you prioritize exercise:
- Find a partner (a human or a dog) to help keep you motivated and accountable.
- Make it a family affair; suggest a nightly walk before curling up on the couch.
- Try something new. Mix up your exercise routine to prevent boredom and work different muscle groups.
- Don’t forget strength training. The CDC recommends you perform muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week in addition to aerobic exercise. As we age, strength training plays an important role in preventing Osteoporosis.
- Remember that exercise is important throughout every stage of life – even during pregnancy. Check out this post for tips on exercising when you are pregnant.
3. Practice prevention
Prevention is an integral part of good care at every stage of life. Routine doctors’ appointments can help detect signs of illness when they are most treatable.
Learn what health screenings you should have through each age and stage of your life.
4. Invest in your mental health
Remember that your mental health is as important as your physical health. Take steps to manage stress, know the signs and symptoms of postpartum disorders, practice deep breathing, mindfulness and self-compassion.
Know when it is time to consult a professional and learn more about psychological counseling at Virginia Women’s Center.
5. If you smoke – QUIT
Check out these tips and consult with your health care provider about effective ways to quit smoking. Help lines, counseling, medications and other forms of support are available to help you quit. Health concerns associated with smoking include cancer, lung disease, early menopause, infertility and pregnancy complications. Smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease among those who are middle-aged.
6. Make room for sleep
As a society, we are quick to “burn the candle on both ends” and give up sleep in order to complete our to-do lists. This strategy will come at a cost if we routinely deprive ourselves of sleep, as it plays a very important role in maintaining healthy, productive and safe lives.
We wish you a year of health and joy!