SMALL CHANGES CAN ADD UP TO A BIG DIFFERENCE
We have all had intentional moments to make sweeping lifestyle changes to improve our health and wellness: Quit smoking. Lose 20 pounds. Join a gym and start exercising every day.
We should always strive the best we can to meet our health goals. But better health does not always mean having to make huge leaps.
There are many small steps you can take that will help improve your health and quality of life. These are things you can incorporate into your routine, which are easy to maintain for the long haul. Even if you have only a few minutes to spare, you can use that time to improve your well-being.
Try incorporating the following activities and strategies into your day. When these simple steps become habits, they add up to a hugely positive effect on your health.
Experts recommend regular exercise, meditation and breathing techniques to reduce stress. There are many simple and enjoyable was such as listening to soothing music or reading a good book. Soaking in a hot tub or playing with your pet can help you relax too.
This is valuable advice you should take note of. It is valuable advice because prolonged stress can cause many health problems. Enjoying de-stressing reduces potential problems such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Feel like you are in a race against time? Do not let that stress you out. As with exercise, even brief periods of relaxation are beneficial.
Pablo Quintana suggests that spending 10 minutes doing something you enjoy can go a long way. This helps beat the stressors of everyday life. “Reading one chapter or taking your dog for a few laps around the block will help you feel calmer. Also refreshed and more energised,” he says.
If you cannot take a full break from whatever you are doing, try taking a few slow, deep breaths at that moment.
“When you slow down your breathing, it helps you to relax,” Quintana says. Relaxing releases body chemicals that relieve stress and may improve immune function.
Deep breathing can also lower your resting heart rate. Lower resting heart rates tend to improve physical condition than higher heart rates.
Put Away the Salt
A saltshaker on the dining table makes it all too easy to consume excess salt. This can lead to high blood pressure. So put the shaker in a cabinet or pantry and bring it out only when you are cooking.
“It is also a good idea to taste your food before you salt it,” Quintana says. “You may find it doesn’t need it.”
You can also try spicing up your food with lemon or lime juice. Garlic, red pepper flakes, herbs or salt-free seasoning blends are great too. Stock your fridge and pantry with your favourite fresh and dried herbs. This way, you will always have them on hand to flavour your foods (health and wellness).
Go to Bed Earlier
Most of us do not get the 7 or more hours of sleep that adults need, according to Quintana.
Over time, a shortage of shut-eye can raise your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Regardless of your age, weight, or exercise habits, it is important to get a quality amount of sleep.
“Going to bed even 15 minutes earlier every night helps if you’re sleep-deprived,” Quintana says.
Set a regular sleep and wake schedule, and stick to it — even on days off.
Have a Glass of Red Wine
Studies show that antioxidants found in red wine can protect some areas of health. This includes:
- Heart disease
- Colon cancer
Those who cannot consume alcohol for medical reasons should avoid this advice. But if not, then go ahead and enjoy that glass of merlot with your nightly meal — you can even toast to your good health.
Drink in moderation. Only a small amount of red wine has its health benefits. Excessive consumption can cause liver and kidney problems.
Health and wellness TodayWomen need to be careful about alcohol consumption. Women are at higher risk of liver problems than men. They are more likely to experience liver problems from smaller amounts of alcohol.
For a healthy man, two drinks a day is not likely to do harm. Yet women should limit themselves to one daily drink.
Check Your Posture & Ergonomics (health and wellness)
Next time you are at your desk or on the phone, take a moment to think about your posture. Then straighten up your back, tuck in your stomach and put your feet flat on the floor with your legs uncrossed. “You’ll feel more relaxed right away,” Quintana says.
The few seconds this takes can help you avoid back pain. This is one of the most common health problems in the United States and a leading cause of disability.
If you work at a computer, then look at the ergonomics of your workstation. Improved posture and ergonomics contribute to the prevention of the following:
- Back and neck strain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Other occupational injuries
“Make a few simple adjustments to raise your health and wellness. This includes:
- Repositioning your computer
- Switching to a chair that provides more back support
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day to do stretching exercises
This creates a healthier and more comfortable workspace,” Quintana says.
Do a Crossword Puzzle
Mentally challenging activities can have a protective effect on the brain. This includes reading, crossword puzzles, sudoku and chess.
Do not enjoy puzzles or games? Do not worry. There are other ways to maintain your brain health and wellness. Eat with your non-dominant hand. Walk a new route home from work. Connect with others.
Maintaining a healthy weight can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. But for women, there is another reason to keep pounds from piling on. “It decreases the risk of future pelvic floor disorders,” says Cheryl Wolfe, at Rush.
Pelvic floor disorders are more common in women who have delivered babies. Women who are overweight and have never given birth are at increased risk of urinary stress incontinence.
Make a Few Dietary Substitutions
- Swap white bread, rice, crackers, and pasta for healthier whole-grain versions.
- Use skinless chicken and turkey in your recipes instead of skin-on. Also, use leaner cuts of other meats such as beef or pork.
- Replace one sugary drink (soda, juice, etc.) each day with a large glass of water.
- If you are hungry between meals, snack on a handful of almonds or cashews, or a piece of whole fruit. Carrot sticks dipped in hummus is great too. Do this rather than reaching for candy bars or potato chips.
Quintana recommends incorporating an extra serving of non-starchy vegetables into your daily diet to avoid to loose health and wellness.
Want a snack? Munch on a carrot instead of a cookie. Making dinner for your family? Serve broccoli or spinach as a side dish instead of mashed potatoes. Add green peas to your brown rice, or slices of red or yellow pepper to your sandwich.
It is no secret that vegetables — especially dark, leafy greens — are good for you. There is also another benefit to packing more veggies into your daily diet. They are rich in fibre and contain lots of water, so they will leave you full and satisfied without a lot of calories and fat.
There are plenty of great recipes in cookbooks and online. Our recipe library provides tasty and healthy veggie dishes to boost your health and wellness.
Take the Stairs
The next time you are going to a higher floor, bypass the elevator and climb the stairs instead. You will get your blood pumping, exercise your lungs, and work the muscles in your lower body.
“It’s a great way to add physical activity to your day without having to block out time to exercise,” Quintana says. “I tell my patients to try to walk 10,000 steps each day. Taking the stairs is great exercise and counts toward that total.”
All these small steps can add up your health and wellness.
Stretch It Out
“Stretching your muscles helps you to avoid injuries. It also enables you to stay limber and move freely as you age,” Quintana says.
Take a few minutes to stretch out before and after you exercise. If you are not working out that day, take a few stretch breaks. Find a quiet space in the office where you are not feeling disturbed by others.
On the go? Look for natural opportunities in your daily routine to stretch. This includes getting out of your car or reaching for items on a high shelf at the store. Also, keep in mind a good gym in Sydney
Stretching right before bed can also help you relieve tension and help you to sink into a restful sleep. Balance exercises like tai chi help reduce your risk of dangerous falls and improve your health and wellness quality.