We’ve all heard it before – new year, new attitude! But just how easy is it to give your lifestyle the MOT kick it needs to get your body into shape? Well, the trick is to start small. Don’t be overly ambitious and tell yourself you’re going to go to the gym seven days a week, because let’s face it; we just don’t have the time for that! But making a few small changes to your daily routines can really make a huge difference. Here are our essential tips for a healthy lifestyle...
The thought of a high intensity workout can seem like an impossible and daunting task! But who’s to say that exercise has to be vigorous and aggressive to have an effect? Yoga and Pilates exercises both lengthen and stretch all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion. They improve flexibility, strength, balance and body awareness. If you don’t have time for Yoga, just a short 30 minute walk a day can provide valuable health benefits to your body.
Get enough sleep
A good night’s rest is vital for a healthy immune system. Seven to nine hours is the sweet spot for most of us, but if you’re over 65, aim for seven to eight, says the USA’s National Sleep Foundation. Adequate sleep can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and more. Plus it will help banish those under-eye circles!
Eat more colour
We’ve all heard of ‘five a day’, but ideally you should eat at least seven portions of fruit and veg daily, in a mix of colours to ensure a range of nutrients. Even white foods such as onions, garlic and mushrooms are packed with perks. Why not embrace the avocado craze - although avocados have a high fat content, it's a nutrient all-star and a great source of potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and lutein. It also contains good amounts of soluble and insoluble fibre.
Exercise your brain
Don’t forget that your brain needs a workout, too. Read books, and do sudoku, crosswords or other brain games. First of all it makes us alert, increases our concentration, and expands our creativity. On the other hand, looking at the images constantly helps us practice visualization, which is again good aid for any physical activity that succeeds mental activity. It also affects our physical health by lowering our breath rate, reducing heart rate and blood pressure too.
A healthy meal can very quickly turn into an unhealthy one if you shovel it down, because you’re more likely to overeat and increase your risk of acid reflux. Plus, the more you focus on your meal, the less you’ll want to snack in the short term, so take time to look at your food, chew it, taste it and savour it.
Curb alcohol consumption
Alcohol can be a great relaxer, but it’s important to be aware of your intake. Government guidelines say you should have no more than 14 units per week. To put that into perspective, one large glass of wine can be three or more units. Sip wisely and pace yourself by drinking a glass of water in between every drink. Why not encourage your friends and family to participate in ‘Dry January’ together, that way there’s no pressure to drink in social situations.
Mix up your Milk!
Although cow’s milk is a popular choice, many people are beginning to opt for alternative option. With a host of alternatives on the shelves, we compare the most popular varieties that bring additional health benefits.
Soya: Low in fat with a similar protein content to cow’s milk. Good for… A low-fat option, but check your brand includes added calcium and vitamins A and D, and has no added sugar.
Coconut: Contains less protein than cow’s milk, with more saturated fat than most other plant based options. Good for... Cooking and drinks, such as hot chocolate. Limit consumption to a couple of times a week.
Almond: A blend of almonds and water, this is often forti¬fied with vitamins. Good for... A lowcalorie, cholesterol-free option. Again, opt for unsweetened varieties.
Pea: Made from yellow split peas, but without the pea flavour. Has as much protein as cow’s milk. Good for… A dose of calcium, potassium and vitamin D, depending on the brand.