Most people assume that being healthy is just about exercise and nutrition. But, there’s a lot more to it than that!
You could exercise every day and eat a healthy diet, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re living a truly healthy lifestyle.
In my opinion, these are the 5 aspects to follow for a healthy lifestyle:
1. Be Active
You should be working out at least 3-4 times a week for thirty minutes or longer. That could be a gym workout, boot camp, walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or a sport. Whatever exercise you choose to do, it should raise your heart rate, get you out of breath and challenge your muscles.
2. Balanced Nutrition
You don’t have to follow strict diet plans, just eat a healthy balanced diet. You should get a good balance of carbohydrates, healthy fats and proteins. You should avoid foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you enjoy, just eat them in moderation. Aim to drink 2 litres of water per day too.
3. Quality Sleep
Quality of sleep can really affect your health. If you have a bad sleep, you wake up with no energy and you’re more likely to be stressed.
It can also have an effect on your eating habits. If you feel tired and lethargic at the end of the day you’re more likely to pick up a take away or a quick microwave meal.
However, if you’ve had a good sleep and have high energy levels, you’re going to feel so much more in control.
4. Stress Management
Stress is something that’s hard to avoid. But, it’s really important that you have an outlet that helps you de-stress (not alcohol). Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress because your body produces endorphins when you workout (chemicals in your brain that make you feel good). Another good way to de-stress is socialising with friends or family…
5. Relationships/Social Life
Interacting with others boosts feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression. Socialising with friends or family can also increase a hormone that reduces anxiety levels and helps us feel more confident in our ability to cope with stress.
It’s important to work on all 5 of those aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
It’s not healthy to go to the gym 10 times a week and live off kale, but never socialise or see your friends. Or let work stress you out so much that it affects your family life and relationships.
You need to be focusing on all five factors to be truly healthy. You’re not always going to get 100% on all of them - and that’s ok. It’s about balance.
We all need to start looking at health in a much broader sense of the word rather than measuring health by the number of times you go to the gym or the number of calories you have.
February is National Heart Month and organisations and charities like the British Heart Foundation are asking everybody to pay attention to their hearts and start living healthier lifestyles.
Coronary heart disease is responsible for 73,000 deaths each year and is the leading cause of death in the UK.
Most of us know someone who’s been affected by heart disease and the saddest part is, a lot of the time, it’s avoidable by changing lifestyle habits.
So, I think it’s a really good idea to use February’s National Heart Month to assess your way of living and introduce some good habits into your lifestyle so you don’t become a national statistic.
To help prevent heart disease here’s five ways to change your lifestyle and take better care of your heart:
A healthy and balanced diet can help to reduce your risk of heart and circulatory diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and can help you to maintain a healthy weight. It can also help to lower your cholesterol levels.
Even if you already have a heart condition, eating healthily can still be of benefit to your heart health. Try to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses and wholegrain varieties of bread, rice and pasta. You should also look to choose options that are lower in saturated fat, salt and sugar where you can.
Smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to have heart disease with all the health issues it causes it is the most important thing you can do for your heart.
Know Your Numbers
If you’re concerned about your blood pressure, speak to your GP or a pharmacist. You can normally get it checked at your GP surgery or local pharmacy. Having high blood pressure means you’re at an increased risk of having a heart attack or a stroke, so it's really important that you know your numbers.
Around 28 per cent of adults in the UK have high blood pressure, which can be caused by unhealthy habits. Being overweight, drinking too much alcohol and not doing enough exercise are all examples of factors which can increase your risk of getting high blood pressure.
Whatever your age or ability, exercising can help to improve your general wellbeing. In fact, regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of developing heart and circulatory disease by up to 35 per cent. Just taking 20 to 30 minutes from your day to exercise, whether that is going for a run or a walk, can help make such a difference to your heart.
You could start with our 7-Day KickStart programme, where you can train under the guidance of a trainer, for just £10. For more info go to www.eastcoast-fitness.com/trial
Along with nutrition and exercise, taking care of your sleep is one of the pillars of health.
Lack of sleep is associated with many negative health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, depression, weight gain, inflammation, and sickness.
You should aim for between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for optimal health.
If you struggle to get that amount here’s 12 tips to help you can a better night’s sleep:
1. Don't Consume Caffeine Late in the Day
Caffeine can significantly worsen sleep quality, especially if large amounts are consumed in the late afternoon or evening.
2. Reduce Irregular or Long Daytime Naps
While short "power naps" have been proven beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can negatively affect your sleep. Sleeping in the daytime can confuse your internal body clock, meaning you may struggle to
sleep at night.
3. Try to Sleep and Wake at Consistent Times
Being consistent with your sleep and waking times can aid in sleep quality in the long-term.
Try to get into a regular sleep/wake cycle, especially on the weekends. If possible, try to wake up naturally at a similar time every day.
4. Don't Drink Alcohol
Drinking a couple of alcoholic drinks at night can negatively affect your sleep and hormones.
Alcohol is known to cause or increase the symptoms of sleep apnoea, snoring and disrupted sleep patterns.
5. Optimise Your Bedroom Environment
Try to optimise your bedroom environment by eliminating external light and noise and making it a generally relaxing environment. Keep phones, TV’s, laptops out!
6. Set Your Bedroom Temperature
Body and bedroom temperature can also huge impact on sleep quality. Test different temperatures to find out which is most comfortable for you. Around 20°C seems comfortable for most people.
7. Don't Eat Late in the Evening
Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, eating carbs a few hours before bed may help.
8. Relax and Clear Your Mind in the Evening
Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia. It’s no coincidence that I always sleep better after my yoga class on a Monday night.
9. Take a Relaxing Bath or Shower
A warm bath, shower or foot bath before bed can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
10. Get a Comfortable Bed, Mattress and Pillow
Some people wonder why they always sleep better in a hotel. Well, apart from the relaxing environment, bed quality can also have an effect. Research shows that your bed, mattress and pillow can greatly impact sleep quality and joint or back pain. Try to buy a high-quality mattress and bedding every 5–8 years.
11. Exercise Regularly, But Not Before Bed
Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. It can enhance all aspects of sleep, and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia. Regular exercise during daylight hours is one of the best ways to ensure a good night's sleep.
12. Don't Drink Any Liquids Before Bed
Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to trips to the bathroom during the night, therefore interrupting your sleep. Although hydration is really important, it is wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening.
If you’re interested in finding out more about sleep and how you can improve it you can download my free ebook ‘The Sleep Survival Guide’ here…