Small changes for a healthier you

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How can you enjoy a healthier lifestyle without making too much effort or giving up the things you love?

Most people say they want to lead a more healthy lifestyle but when it comes to actually doing something about it, the thought of massive change puts them off before they’ve really started. So how can you make small changes to a healthier life?

EAT WELL
Eat regularly
Studies show that breakfast really does help you work better through the morning. A boiled or scrambled egg is a great way to start, or fruit and yoghurt. Increasing in popularity is eating five small meals a day, rather than three. This keeps your energy levels and metabolism at a constant level, so you’re less likely to dip and grab a chocolate bar.

If you find you tend to snack a lot, make sure you have healthy nibbles to hand, such as batons of carrot, sliced apple or nuts, rather than reaching for the biscuit tin. Eating lots of vegetables, especially highly coloured vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots is associated with a reduced risk to breast, lung and colon cancers.

Cut down your meat intake. It has become the norm to eat meat with every meal, but it is not necessary and eating too much red meat has been linked to high cholesterol, heart disease and some cancers. Start by cutting out meat at lunch – opt for a cheese sandwich or veggie salad. In the evenings, choose chicken over beef or pork.

Drink more water
While some suggest that drinking two litres a day isn’t strictly necessary as your body adapts to whatever intake it has, there is no doubt that drinking more water is beneficial and healthier than drinking too little. It helps to remove toxins that naturally build up, is good for your skin and helps to keep you feeing energised. Swap cups of coffee with a glass of water at least once a day, building up. Add a splash of lemon or lime cordial if it helps you do drink more.

FIT IN MORE EXERCISE
Fitting a little exercise into your day is good for you mentally as well as physically. It will help you to lose weight and even if you don’t need to lose a few pounds, it will help prevent conditions such as heart disease and osteoporosis and aid better sleep – all important for good health – and will make you feel healthier.

There are easy ways to build exercise into your day. It’s better to start slowly and regularly – you don’t want to do too much and decide it’s not for you. Get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way, walk round the block, walk up the stairs instead of taking the lift.

Find a friend to exercise with it, so you can encourage each other to keep going. If gyms aren’t your thing, we have Richmond Park right on our doorstop. Borrow a dog, to keep you going.

If you give yourself a goal you are more likely to keep going, so enter a race such as the Cancer Research 5k Race for Life – you can walk it if you feel you can’t run.

Local council-run gyms offer great facilities for around £50 per month membership, including attending as many classes as you want – see box for more details.

THE IMPORTANCE OF WELLBEING
Mental and emotional balance is just as important as your physical health. Getting a good night’s sleep lays the foundation for feeling better throughout the day. A good night time routine – no devices in the bedroom, a darkened room. If you have things worrying you, write them down before you go to bed, to help clear your mind.

Meditation, yoga and pilates will all help you to relax, as will exercise.

WHERE TO GO…
We are surrounded by beautiful green spaces and places to walk – Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common, the Thames towpath, so there’s plenty of places to walk or run. If you prefer gyms, Pools on the Park in Richmond and Shene Fitness Centre both have great facilities and membership is only around £35-52 per month, including as many classes as you like and allowing you to visit all centres. Richmond.gov.uk/sports

Putney Leisure Centreis run by People for Places Leisure and has a great gym and large swimming pool.  placesforpeopleleisure.org

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