Even if we consider ourselves to be in good shape, many of us look for ways to do better. These six tips will help you reach your goal of a vibrant, healthy life.
We all know about exercise benefits, but stretching is often overlooked. Stretching helps lengthen muscles, increases range of motion, and reduces stiffness and soreness. Stretching should always be gentle. Never stretch to the point of pain. Stretching is best done when muscles have had a chance to warm up. Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi are exercise forms that promote stretching.
Meditation has many wonderful benefits for the body as well as the mind. It slows the heart rate, reduces the stress response, and strengthens the immune system. Even a 30-second break to focus on the breath helps to calm and center. Meditation is simple in concept but can be hard to practice. Beginners may want to start with a class that can clear up misconceptions and provide support.
DRINK MORE WATER
Water is the largest component of our bodies, essential for every organ. If you wait to drink until you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Although most American municipal water is safe to drink, disinfecting chemicals may give it an off taste or smell. Don’t buy bottled water! Buy a filter pitcher or under the sink system and fill a reusable water bottle. Start the morning with eight ounces or more and continue drinking throughout the day, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control.
EAT MORE FIBER
Dietary fiber keeps our digestive systems working smoothly and can reduce cholesterol levels in the blood, but many of us don’t get enough, as government studies have found. Women should get 25 grams a day, men 38 grams. Eat fewer processed carbohydrates and more whole grains, fruits including berries, vegetables, legumes, and nuts. To avoid digestive problems, increase fiber gradually.
Most adults need 7 to 9 hours a night, but many of us make a priority of everything except sleep. The blue light of glowing screens stimulates the brain. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
Being outdoors in the sunshine not only improves our mood but also allows our bodies to make Vitamin D, a nutrient with many important benefits. If you live in a climate with short days, plan to head out on your lunch break. Even a few minutes will help clear your head and give your body a boost.
LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE
News programs, print media, and news feeds that trumpet disasters and conflicts depress and stress us, which can affect our physical health. Turn the news off. Pay attention to what makes you happy and grateful.