When people think of getting healthy, one of the first ideas that comes to mind is joining the gym or getting more exercise. While these are important steps in maintaining your physical health, there is much more to wellness than just exercise. Following these tips will help you live a healthier life—even when you can't find time to head to the gym.
1. Maintain a Healthy Diet
The fuel your body uses to do virtually everything is food, so what you put in your body makes a big difference in your overall health. Avoid overly fatty and salty foods and try to limit anything processed, as these foods are accompanied by many health risks.
For example, a recent report by the World Health Organization found that hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats lead to a higher risk of developing cancer.
In addition to the importance of properly fueling your body, recent studies have found that a healthy, well-balanced diet may also improve your memory. Research has suggested that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment.
"We've also seen preliminary research suggesting that eating vitamin C and folate-rich vegetables like spinach and broccoli may slow cognitive decline. Other research has suggested that blueberries may boost memory, and that a high intake of saturated and trans fats can have negative effects," says Lisa Drayer, a New York-based nutritionist.
2. Get Sufficient Sleep
Your doctor would probably tell you that the average person needs at least eight hours of sleep every night. However, many people do not follow that advice.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention goes as far as to call chronic insufficient sleep a public health problem.
Its report on sleep quality, duration, behaviors, and disorders lists several unhealthy behaviors related to insufficient sleep, indicating that a lack of sleep can affect simple things like concentration and memory and high-risk activities like operating a vehicle or handling financial matters.
If you're looking to improve your sleep hygiene, the CDC recommends taking the following steps:
- Get on a Schedule—try to hit the pillow at the same time each night, and rise at the same hour every morning
- Eat an early dinner—for the best quality sleep, it's recommended you avoid eating large meals too close to bedtime
- Skip the Nightcap—a post-dinner cup of Joe or cocktail might seem like a good idea at the time, but your well-rested self will thank you the next day if you skip out on caffeine or alcohol before bed
- Limit Smoke Breaks—like caffeine and alcohol, it's also best to avoid nicotine before you hit the hay
3. Hydrate Regularly
Your body is 60% water, so it makes sense that maintaining healthy hydration keeps your digestive, circulatory, and other systems working like they should.
Just like running a car without oil, going without drinking can cause harm to your body.
According to the Mayo Clinic, men should drink about 13 cups of beverages per day, and women need at least 9 cups.
4. Set Aside Some Personal Time
In a culture where the answer to the "What do you do?" question is job related, it is easy to be swept up in a stressful, work-centric lifestyle where our own needs take a back seat to emails and action items.
Whether it is before work, during a lunch break, or at the end of the day, set aside some "me time" where you can relax and focus on a hobby like reading or meditating. Psych Central suggests that taking time to focus on introspection can boost your well-being and happiness.
5. Turn off Your Phone
According to a study by Nielsen, adults spend an average of 11 hours per day looking at screens. That includes computers, TVs, smartphones, tablets, and gaming.
Psychology Today found that all of those hours may be causing damage to the regions of your brain that control emotions, attention, decision making, and cognitive control.
Get away from your phone and other electronics for at least a little while every day- particularly if you are setting an example for a young person whose brain is still developing.
6. Make Time for Living
Between work, family, and other responsibilities, it can be hard to make time for personal goals and dreams. Set aside some time in your schedule for really living and enjoying your life.
Date nights, travel, hobbies, and other resolutions are important. Don't let them fall by the wayside or you'll live with stress and regret.
As Bayt suggests, do something new to break up your routine. You will be glad you did.