Health is about more than working out and eating right. It encapsulates the state of one’s overall well-being, the functionality of their body, and sense of self. When seeking improvement, some things you can change immediately, and others take time, patience, and practice. We’ve got eleven ideas as to how you can begin to improve your health altogether.

1. Eat what you need and what you want

Eat for function most of the time and for fun some of the time. Choose fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein sources as much as possible. Try to limit your intake of empty calories and foods that are not nutrient-dense. Splurge from time to time. When you restrict yourself totally, you’re more likely to binge and/or be unhappy and unsatisfied.

2. Practice mindfulness

Take 10-20 minutes and meditate. Unplug from the outside world and go technology free. Practice deep breathing and clear your mind. Center yourself. Use a source of guided meditation if you aren’t comfortable or sure how to meditate on your own! Practicing mindfulness aids in de-stressing and resetting your focus.

3. Do cardio

Exercise your heart! According to the American Heart Association individuals should complete at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular activity each week. Examples of moderate cardiovascular activities include: swimming, walking, leisurely cycling, steady-state rowing, tennis, and mowing the lawn. Types of vigorous cardiovascular activities include: running, hiking, plyometric workouts, high-intensity interval training, and basketball.

4. Make resistance training a part of your routine

Resistance training is important for increased strength, increased metabolism, weight loss/maintenance, bone health, and overall function. There are numerous ways to incorporate resistance training into your workout routine such as: taking a strength training class, utilizing free weights, bands, and machines, or performing bodyweight exercises at home. Aim for at least 2-3 days of resistance training per week for optimal health benefits.

5. Choose activity

If you have the option to be more active, choose it. Stand instead of sitting. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. When feasible, walk rather than drive. Find small ways to get more movement in throughout the day.

6. Drink more water

You should be drinking a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. In fact, most people should actually drink more, depending on your gender, age, weight, and level of physical activity. Our bodies are composed of mostly water. Without enough, we sometimes experience cramps, headaches, and restlessness amongst other things, all of which could be avoided if the body is properly hydrated. One way to ensure you drink enough water is to carry a refillable water bottle or cup with you at all times so that you have no excuse to not drink throughout the day!

7. Do yoga regularly

Doing yoga regularly aids in flexibility, stress relief, and provides a more comprehensive connection of the mind, body, and spirit. Find a class or practice on your own. Just like with anything else, the more you practice, the easier it gets. It’ll challenge your mind, overall strength, flexibility, and breath control all at once. It’s one exercise modality that could be performed every single day if you wanted to do so!

8. Don’t skip checkups

Even if you’re going just for the reassurance that you’re fit as a fiddle, do it. It’s a time where any concerns you have can be addressed, and any recommendations to improve your health can be given. A yearly checkup is beneficial for everyone, no matter how old you are.

9. Take your vitamins

If your doctor suggests a multi-vitamin or for you to supplement with a specific vitamin/mineral, do it! While it may seem like one or two pills doesn’t make a huge difference - if you’re deficient in something your body isn’t functioning properly and as efficiently as it should.

10. Prioritize rest

Rest and recovery are so important for optimal function. Make sure that you get adequate sleep, which is considered a minimum of 7-9 hours per night throughout the week. Choose a nap versus over-caffeinating when possible. Take a rest day rather than performing a tough workout when you need it. Listen to your body.

11. Recognize the value of human contact

Physical touch promotes the release of feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine. Whether you’re hugging on your grandkids or cuddling with your partner, showing love via physical touch to those who love you back helps fight depression, improve mood, increase trust, and facilitate bonding between two individuals. Human contact will help to ensure you live a happier, healthier life.

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