You would have to have considerable knowledge of science and math to calculate your VO2max when working out, and figure out how much to consume of each individual nutrient when you’re eating breakfast. Then, there are the fitness studies that produce conflicting headlines every other week.
Wouldn’t it be nice if staying healthy could be easier?
It turns out that many positive habits are simple. They also produce dramatic results when you sustain them over time and use them to reinforce each other.
Focus on small changes you can integrate into your daily routine. Start with this checklist for what to eat, how to work out, and other easy tips.
- Eat whole foods. Decoding information about specific vitamins and minerals is complicated. Enjoy a balanced diet without the fuss by thinking in terms of food groups instead. Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables along with healthy fats and lean proteins.
- Avoid processed products. Most of the sugar and salt in your diet comes from processed foods. Eating less chips and cold cuts will make a big difference.
- Limit portions. Designating forbidden foods can backfire and make you crave a treat. You can usually eat just about anything if you keep the servings small.
- Drink water. Stay hydrated with plain water instead of regular or diet soda. Sugary drinks can be a major source of hidden calories, and even diet beverages can make you want to eat more sweets.
- Take a walk. If you’ve been sedentary for a while, start out with walking. It’s great exercise for anyone because it’s free, convenient, and has many health benefits.
- Vary your workouts. Find different activities you enjoy so your workouts will be more interesting, and you’ll be challenging your body in new ways. Alternate between playing tennis and doing yoga.
- Work on balance. Many adults skip balance training while they’re running and lifting weights. Developing your equilibrium strengthens your core and protects you from falls.
- Track your progress. You might find that counting your steps or measuring your pulse helps you to stay motivated. Experiment with electronic fitness devices or pick up an old-fashioned journal.
- Move more. Stay active in between workouts. Vacuum the stairs and stand up when you’re making phone calls.
- Manage stress. Stress contributes to chronic inflammation and many health issues. Relax by listening to instrumental music or talking with your friends when you face a challenging situation.
- Sleep well. Go to bed and rise on the same schedule, even on weekends and holidays. Practice bedtime rituals that make you sleepy, like rereading a classic novel or drinking a cup of chamomile tea.
- Check your posture. Proper alignment gives you more energy and reduces stress on your spine and joints. When you’re sitting, ensure your weight is on the center of your sit bones. When you’re sitting or standing, lift your chest, and lower your shoulders.
- Wash your hands. Your parents and teachers were correct when they kept reminding you to wash your hands. Plain soap and running water does an adequate job, especially if you take at least 20 seconds to be thorough about it, including scrubbing under your fingernails.
- Be mindful. Mindfulness is a philosophy you can apply to any aspect of your life, from your diet to your relationships. Live in the present moment and let go of judgements and expectations.
Making modest and gradual shifts will put you on the road to greater health and wellbeing. Each time you make a positive decision about eating and exercising, you’re building a lifestyle that will keep you fit and strong.