Do you find that you’re often ill, aching and exhausted? Instead of popping pills and vitamins to give yourself a health boost for spring, take a closer look at the habits that are making your health suffer and start feeling better today…
Sitting for extended periods could be the culprit. Change your default work position from sitting to standing. Too much standing can, of course, have negative effects on health, including varicose veins, back and foot problems and carotid artery disease. Using a treadmill desk and “walking while working” has been found to improve muscle pain, or just get up and move about as much as possible throughout the day.
But if your job involves standing for long periods – such as retail or hospitality – take lots of seated breaks.
Most of us know what we should be eating in order to stay healthy and keep our weight down, but are we kidding ourselves about how healthy our diet is? If you can’t seem to lose weight, you’re probably eating more than you need. A portion the size of the palm of your hand should be your protein, two fist-size portions for your vegetables/salad, one fist or less is your carbohydrates (potato, rice, pasta etc) and one fist for fruit. Follow this rule and you won’t overeat. Still feel you need seconds? Chew your food properly and put your fork down between mouthfuls. You’ll feel more satisfied if you allow your brain time to register that your stomach is full.
Drinking more than the recommended units – 14 a week for both men and women – is linked to many cancers and in under a decade there has been a 25 per cent increase in deaths from liver disease, with alcohol causing more than a third of total cases. But it’s all too easy to pour that glass of wine or gin and tonic that we “deserve” after a stressful day. If you want to get rid of an old habit, create a new one. So if you usually go for a drink on a Thursday, start a new activity that night – a class or sporty session – and make that your new habit. “Fill your life with things that replace the ritual you used to look forward to.
Always feeling overwhelmed by stress? Staying positive and counting your blessings can actually reduce those stressful feelings. Taking time to contemplate all the good in your life has actually been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 23 per cent. Give your brain a break by having a tech amnesty – no mobile phone, laptop or tablet – after 9pm in the evening. Many of us check our emails in bed before going to sleep, which makes it difficult to really unwind and get a proper rest.
We know that regular exercise boosts energy, improves sleep, combats all manner of health conditions and even protects your bones. Studies show that after your mid-twenties, bone density starts to diminish year on year, but doing exercise helps keep bones healthy and strong and reduces the risk of osteoporosis. The crucial thing is to find an exercise routine you can actually stick to – and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) might just fit the bill, as you only need do it for a few minutes each session. You get an increased calorie burn and it takes your heart rate much higher but for short spurts, followed by periods of recovery. Google “HIIT workouts” – anything from seven to 30 minutes, and from full-body to specific areas such as legs, arms and chest. Or take a particular exercise such as bicep curls and push yourself hard for 20 seconds then have a 10-second rest, repeating this eight times for optimum results. Get a HIIT app for your phone to take all the hard work out of timings.
Modify by: Dr. Leesa Sanchez
from 9:30 am – 1:00 pm