yoga-for-health

“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.”  ~ Jim Rohn

Living healthy doesn’t just mean eating right and exercising.  According to the World Health Organization, living “healthy” is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.  Living a healthy lifestyle is all about making good choices and taking responsibility for your decisions.  If you choose to take the steps to live a “balanced” life, you can actually achieve optimum health.

After all, it is not the knowledge that ensures a healthy lifestyle, it is the action. Where do we begin?  Start by making a plan to develop some healthy habits that are sustainable over time.  Everyone knows these can be difficult to establish because they usually require a change in mindset.  But, if you’re willing to make some sacrifices for a healthier you, the results can be extremely rewarding, far reaching and long lasting. You’ll enjoy your work, your relationships, your surroundings, your experiences and even your sleep more.

strawberry-salad

Find a healthy weight. 

Eating healthy stimulates optimum cell function and supports cell regeneration. So maintain a nutritious diet where all (okay, almost all) food works FOR your body not against it. Plus, you can increase muscle mass instead of unwanted extra pounds this way. Skipping breakfast raises blood sugar, which increases fat storage.  Instead of a large cup of coffee, start your day off with a healthy, balanced breakfast to keep you feeling full and energized. Five daily servings of vegetables and fruits can help boost energy and control weight.  Focus on eating lean meats, fish and turkey and avoid sugary juices, sodas, and smoothies!

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Start exercising. 

Exercising is as much about mental health as physical health. Exercising stimulates endorphin production in the brain, which makes us feel relaxed, happy and content.  Did you know that walking 30 minutes a day also promotes cognitive health and reduce risk of dementia? Walking a half hour each day also boosts your energy level and can help you live longer. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, and walk instead of drive whenever possible.

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Not all exercise is created equal. Some types benefit different parts of the body, including the brain! Thanks to the internet it’s easy to research what sort of exercise will addresses your health goals.  Some ideas:

  • Weight training helps boost concentration overall because it requires concentration on form, breathing and technique. Certain parts of the temporal and prefrontal lobes increase when concentration increases.  Two half hour sessions a week for six months will work wonders on concentration.
  • Boxing is a great way to relieve physical and as well as mental stress. Six months of boxing one hour each week can improve cognitive abilities tremendously.
  • Cycling for fifteen minutes three times each week for two months increases the positive electric charges in our brains that give us energy.
  • Yoga helps increase strength and relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. Yoga also helps lower blood pressure.  A one-hour session three times a week is all you need.
  • Pilates is known to relieve sleep problems because it teaches you to focus on your breathing and on the inside of your body. Three one hour sessions a week will have you sleeping like a baby in no time!
  • Swimming improves cardiovascular health and exercises the most muscle groups (outside cross country skiing). It improves flexibility, balance and joint mobility. Proficient swimmers also enjoy a quasi-meditative benefit from the repetitive motion in the soothing, weightless suspension of water.

Whatever you choose, start small and simple, gently increasing your activity over time. Don’t skimp on gear like shoes and clothing – invest in quality gear to protect skeletal,  muscular and skin health.

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Mind your brain.

Certainly a healthy diet and regular exercise are good for your mental health. Reducing stress as much as possible helps to promote proper brain function, good moods and a positive outlook. Avoid unnecessary commitments, negative people and worrying about things you can’t control. And staying social balances our serotonin levels and keeps our mind active. So, being around family, friends, and positive people works wonders for our mental health.  Volunteer, join a club, go out on a date, or fight for a good cause.

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Get enough rest.

Arianna Huffington pointed out during the Glassdoor Summit today that we never miss a chance to recharge our devices – but what about our bodies? Rest should not be a luxury. In a healthy lifestyle, it’s a necessity. Our society has a sleep problem that the CDC has deemed a public health epidemic. The body is programmed to heal itself if given the right conditions. Certainly diet, exercise and mental outlook support healing. Rest is also essential for healing. But did you know sleep also is helpful in controlling blood sugar, maintaining healthy libido, promoting good cognitive function and elevating moods? Eight hours is recommended.

sleep

Living healthier can lower your risk of all sorts of diseases, increase your quality of life and even longevity.  Rather than feel overwhelmed with the changes you want to make, assign a priority to each one (based on ease to achieve, overall impact, cost to participate, or whatever else is necessary for you to keep at it so that you can attain your health goals) and address them one or two at the time. Last but not least, and I hope it goes without saying, be sure to schedule a wellness exam with your doctor at least twice a year.