Plan to be healthy
Like most things worth having, a healthy lifestyle sadly won’t fall into your lap without any effort. To make healthy lifestyle choices a regular part of your day it is important to make a plan and schedule them in, at least until they become second nature. Rather than making vague plans to “eat more healthily” or “do some exercise”, make a menu for the day ahead detailing exactly what you will eat, or schedule in a date for exercise, establishing an exact time, activity and location. Whatever your health intentions, set your purpose for the day ahead and factor in some time to make it happen.
Ditch your alarm clock
Few of us would class the alarm clock as our favourite household appliance. However, if you find yourself waking up feeling sluggish and miserable and repeatedly pressing snooze, it may be worth investing in a gentler wake-up call. Ideally, our bodies our wired to wake up to natural light; however it is not always possible to do so. Instead, try purchasing a wake-up light which will wake you up gently as it gradually brightens, helping to regulate sleeping patterns and boost your mood and energy levels for the rest of the day.
Don’t overdo your morning workout
While a daily workout is great for your health, research suggests that it may be best to leave your exercise session until later in the day. A study by a researcher from Brunel University, Middlesex, found that heavy training sessions early in the morning compromise the immune system and put athletes at increased risk of infection from bacteria and viruses. While a morning jog or gentle exercise session is unlikely to put you at great risk, try to save heavier workouts for later in the day.
Start your day on a positive note
Many of us start the day with a morning newspaper or by listening to the news. However, while it’s good to stay informed of what is happening in the world, it can also start the day off on a negative note. If you find yourself struggling to get in a positive frame of mind, try following your morning news update with some motivational reading, an inspirational quote or an email from a friend. Not only will starting your day with a more positive outlook help to boost your mood and productivity, but studies have shown that positive people are less likely to die of heart disease or stroke.
Don’t eat at your desk
Having a busy day? Try not to give in to the temptation to skip your lunch break and eat at your desk. Refusing to take a break is not only bad for your mental health, but eating while distracted may mean you are more likely to overeat. On top of this, spending your lunch hour at your desk can compromise your health by lengthening the time you are physically inactive and exposing you to bacteria. According to a study by the University of Arizona, your work station contains nearly 400 times more germs than the average toilet seat, making it a less than ideal place for dining.
[Related article: Five foods all slimmers should have in the cupboard.]
Get more active, more often
According to a number of research studies, sitting for long periods of time puts you at risk of dangerous illnesses such as heart disease – regardless of whether you are otherwise physically active. To safeguard your health while in the office, make an effort to move more often throughout the day in any way you can. Set up an alert or write a post-it note reminding you to get up and stretch, take more trips to the water cooler, or organise your workspace so that things are out of reach. Even the smallest activities done regularly can make a difference to your health.
Listen to music
Whether you’re travelling to work, sat at your desk or having a workout, listening to your favourite music could do wonders for your health. Not only can playing music help you relax and boost your mood, research has also shown that listening to music you enjoy can promote good heart health, help manage pain and boost the immune system too. Furthermore, research by Brunel University found that listening to music while working out can boost exercise endurance by as much as 15 per cent.
Watch some comedy
While in an ideal world we would all opt to shun the TV in favour of going for a run or doing something productive, if you simply can’t resist the lure of an evening in front of the box, you can still look after your health by being selective about what you watch. According to research by the University of Maryland School of Medicine, comedies are the way to go, with research findings suggesting that watching a funny movie or show is beneficial for your heart, while watching horror or war movies can cause mental stress.
Stop mindless snacking
Many people find themselves snacking during the day or evening out of boredom or habit. However, not only is this an easy way to pile on the pounds, but often we may not even enjoy what we’re eating. According to researchers from the University of Southern California, once people have established an eating habit they will continue eating that food whether or not it tastes good and regardless of whether they are hungry. To help stay trim, try being more aware of your eating habits and ask yourself why you are eating; whether it’s through hunger, boredom or simply out of habit.
[Related article: Healthy snacks for women on the go]
Keep a diary
If you can’t remember the last time you poured out your heart into
the pages of a diary, it may be time to get back into the habit.
Research has shown that regularly writing in a diary can boost the
immune system, ease stress and depression and help you recover more
successfully from traumatic events. Furthermore, reflecting on the good
things in your life can help you to think more positively. Try to take a
few minutes at the end of each evening to reflect on your day, taking
time to count your blessings as well as reflecting on the things from
which you can learn.
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