We’re already over halfway through 2013 (can you believe it?), but it’s still not too late to make this your healthiest year yet. When attempting to improve your overall health, it is helpful to start by setting realistic goals for yourself; it will do little good to set unrealistic expectations only to continue to fail at them. Whether you’re beginning a workout routine or breaking a bad habit, start slow and at a steady pace. Then, gradually build onto your achievements and continually improve.
There are a number of ways in which you can improve your health throughout the rest of this year and the years beyond. With summer already upon us, our first tip is all too fitting and will play a crucial part in staying healthy during these characteristically warm days of summer.
1. (Safely!) Soak up the sun.
During the summer people spend much of their time outside, exposing them to harsh light from the sun. UV light is at its strongest between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. so try to avoid coming into contact with direct sunlight during this time of the day or at least try to limit your time. Exposing your skin to sunlight for extended periods of time can cause damage and this prolonged exposure can lead to cancer.
If you cannot avoid outside activity during this time, then take preventative measures in order to ensure your skin is protected and healthy. Using sunscreen and wearing a hat are both helpful in shielding your skin from the sun’s harsh rays.
2. Stretch every morning.
This simple tip takes a few minutes at most and taking this little time to stretch when you step out of bed has some great benefits. Not only does stretching your muscles help to release tension, but you’ll be less likely to injure yourself as you perform day-to-day activities. Increased blood flow and flexibility are also a plus!
3. Get a little help from your friends.
This year, be sure to keep in touch with those you care about most. Make a conscious effort to pick up the phone and dial one of your favorite people. Those that have a solid support system have been found to have a significantly decreased risk of heart disease.
4. Eat well.
This one may seem fairly obvious, but all too many people fail to follow this advice. Making good choices when it comes to the food you consume will keep you healthy. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a challenge; choose a diet that contains many fruits, vegetables and whole grains in order to promote a happy and healthy heart. A few benefits of foods like fresh fruit and vegetables are that they are affordable, delicious and contain many vitamins and minerals. But don’t be afraid to splurge every once in a while—moderation is the name of the game.
5. Water works.
Sure you’ve heard it plenty of times and that’s because it remains unmistakably true: The human body is made up of about 60% water. Increase your water intake by always keeping a water bottle within reach. Leave water in your car, at your bedside, and in your workspace. You will be happy you did. Water hydrates your body, providing cells with the energy you need to function daily. It also helps to flush out dangerous toxins.
6. Let’s dance.
Which musical act are you currently listening to? Chances are they’ll be visiting a city near you this year. Purchase tickets so you and a friend can dance the night away. It doesn’t matter if you’re listening to a record at home or in the front row of a concert, dancing is a great (and fun!) workout. Overtime, dancing can help build endurance, tone your muscles, and burn calories.
7. Embrace the great outdoors.
If you have a family, one on the best things you can do for them is to get them in the habit of taking part in outdoor activities. No matter if it’s taking a simple walk around the neighborhood or playing each other in basketball; these activities burn calories, increase blood flow and can ultimately bring your family closer together.
8. There’s an app for that.
So far, 2013 has brought about many (terribly addictive) game apps that may or may not encourage a lot of sitting and unfortunately include gaining a little extra weight. No worries, there are plenty of other apps that aid you in the quest to whip yourself into shape. You may be new to working out or you could be already be a pro who is in need of a device that tracks your time and distance. Either way you can find it among the array of thousands of phone apps designed to keep you healthy.
9. Keep dreaming.
Adults need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep each night, but how many of you actually get that amount? It is good practice to get in as many hours of rest as possible. Lack of sleep makes your body more susceptible to cold and infection and can also affect your performance at work. Not to mention the fact that individuals who claimed to get at least seven hours a night have much longer lifespans.
10. Laugh daily.
Go on, crack a smile. Take advantage of all the positives that laughter can bring both your body and spirit. These include increased relaxation, decreased pain and increased creativity (just to name a few). Who knew just how much good laughter can do for you?
11. Plan ahead.
When you don’t plan ahead, tasks often get overlooked, stress increases, and your health suffers. Carefully planning out your activities will help a great deal in managing time. Better managing your time will help you complete daily tasks with greater efficiency and can even help you get to destinations on time. Your morning commute will be a lot less stressful with the knowledge that you have extra time.
12. Stay positive.
Did you forgo that glass of water for a cold soda? Was the day particularly bad at work and you desperately needed chocolate bar? Don’t feel beat yourself up over it. We all have our rough days. We can try our best to avoid stressful situations but, unfortunately, they are inevitable. The important thing is how you go about handling the situation and how you view yourself afterwards. Try to think in a way that encourages you to be happy with the choices you made and to let go of your mistakes. Forgive yourself: this is an absolutely crucial step in beginning your journey towards maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Holding onto the bad is poison for both body and mind.
13. Display your will power.
This is perhaps one of the most important tips for staying healthy. In fact, many of these other health tips are dependent upon proving your will power. YOU have the power to eat well and devote time to exercise. YOU have the power to let go of the bad and focus on all the good things life has to offer. Once you realize that you hold the key, you will be able to stay strong and start working towards the life you want. I promise that you will absolutely love the results.
Remember, start slow and work your way up. Embrace this advice, embrace your new lifestyle, and embrace the beauty that 2013 and all the years to follow can offer you. These thirteen tips are just the beginning.
About the Guest Blogger – Carolyn Heintz is a nutritionist, mother, and coffee lover. Her health philosophy consists of rewarding exercise, balanced nutrition, regular preventative health screenings, and lots and lots of laughter.