You don’t need fad diets, supplements, fancy workouts or lots of time or money to improve your health. Instead, focus on eight specific behaviors you’ve heard about but probably underestimated.
Get some physical activity daily.
Physical activity is almost magical in its ability to improve quality of life. It reduces risks of nearly every physical and mental condition there is. It doesn’t need to be fancy, long or boring. Ten-minute blocks of playing with your kids, dancing or even taking the stairs makes a difference. What sinks a lot of people’s efforts is they take on more than they can do, find it’s impossible to maintain and then quit. The best activity is the one you enjoy the most and can see yourself continuing the most. Some people like to chop wood, others like walking, others like peeling vegetables.
Get enough sleep.
One third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, but it’s impossible to overstate how essential sleep is to good health. It affects your immune system, hormones, appetite, weight, thinking, energy, concentration, temper, mood, even life expectancy. Luckily, there are ways to get a better night’s sleep.
How much sleep each person specifically needs varies but it ranges from seven to nine hours for most people. But quality matters too. If you’re feeling tired or having disrupted sleep, find out if you have a sleep disorder and treat it if you do. Sleep apnea is an extremely underdiagnosed condition that increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and early death.
This one is a no-brainer, and not just because smoking can cause lung cancer, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking is associated with virtually all diabetes complications and it’s a leading cause of heart disease. Cigarette smokers with diabetes are virtually certain to get cardiovascular disease.
Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables offer more benefits than fruits in terms of vitamins and minerals with fewer calories, but fruits are a place to start if you don’t get much of either. The best way to get more fruits and veggies is to cook more meals at home with unprocessed foods. Frozen vegetables are time savers with the same benefits as fresh ones, and canned fruits are fine if they’re not packed in syrup. Just don’t drink your fruits or rely on dried fruits. Any concentrated form of fruit sugars is not as helpful. Those both pack a lot more calories.
Spend time in the sun, but not too much.
Not everyone has this option year-round, especially in northern latitudes, but take advantage of what you can. Light helps your sleep and mood, being out in the sun increases your likelihood of physical activity and sunlight is the only natural way to get vitamin D. Bright light is incredibly important for healthy sleep. Our sleep system evolved when we were sleeping outside, so not getting enough light during the day can hinder sleep. And again, healthy sleep helps mental health too.
Eat and drink less sugar.
This one doesn’t need much explaining. When you’re hungry for sugar reach for an apple instead of the cookie. When you’re thirsty have some water, not the soft drink. When you start to look at the sugar amounts in everything you eat you will realize that adding more to that total becomes detrimental to one’s health.
By Michael Gross
Michael is a pioneer in the burgeoning indoor trampoline park industry. He is managing member of Bounce! Trampoline Sports, overseeing the development and operation of 8 locations currently for this franchised brand. His trampoline park located in Valley Cottage, NY was the first of its kind in the tri-state area when it opened in November of 2011. Michael is a founding member of the IATP (international assoc. of trampoline parks) and on the ASTM committee establishing standards for the indoor trampoline park industry. Michael has been involved with health oriented physical activities his whole life and continues a daily regimen of cross fit training at his home in the heart of the Catskill