New Year’s Day has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to evaluate the state of your health and fitness and make small adjustments to improve both. Small changes gradually add up to a large shift in lifestyle and there are plenty of ways to kick-start a year of healthy living.
1. Skip the salt shaker. Excessive sodium consumption contributes to a variety of health issues including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. Reduce your daily sodium intake by eating fewer prepared foods, cooking with herbs and spices rather than salt and substituting unsalted popcorn or nuts for salty snacks.
2. Switch to water. By eliminating or reducing consumption of sugary beverages, which often have as many calories as an entire meal and offer little in the way of nutritional value, you’ll be better hydrated and will consume fewer empty calories. It’s recommended that you drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day for optimum hydration and health.
3. Get moving. While it’s not always easy to find time to work out, you don’t need a gym membership to stay fit. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car at the back of the parking lot, increasing the number of steps you take in a day, or walk the Valley Trail instead of drive to the village. Small changes add up to big results.
4. Butt out. Smoking is so last year, so make a commitment to quitting this year. While it’s one of the hardest things one can do, quitting smoking provides immediate health benefits. After 20 minutes, blood pressure and pulse rates decrease and after a year, the risk of smoking-related heart attacks is reduced by half.
5. Keep in touch. Staying connected with family and friends is one of the healthiest things you can do. Studies show that social support is related to psychological well-being. This year find ways to incorporate physical activity to your social visits such as meeting up with friends for a skate, scheduling a coffee date and walk or pick a healthy recipe and invite the whole family to help make it.
6. Limit alcohol intake. It’s easy to get carried away during the holidays and the New Year is the perfect time to cut back on the over-indulging. Experts recommend you drink slowly and have no more than two drinks in any three hour period.
7. Become a mindful eater. Pay attention to what you’re eating and your portion sizes and by doing so you’ll cut back on sugars and calories. If you incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet you can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
8. Balance work and play. Work to achieve a balance between your professional and personal lives. Leading a balanced lifestyle leaves you more rested, improves relationships and allows more time for physical and mental wellness.
9. Get your flu shot. There are serious health consequences as a result of catching the flu. By protecting yourself you’re also protecting others.
10. Take a nap! Studies show that not having enough sleep has a huge impact on your overall health and mental well-being. Maintain a regular bedtime routine, avoid caffeine before bed and staying physically active during the day all help you get a good night’s sleep.