Guest Article by Jennifer McGregor
The benefits of a healthy lifestyle are well known, but between work and personal responsibilities, it’s often tough to make time for a fitness routine. While exercise is a core part of a healthy lifestyle, there are various other small changes to consider, which can seamlessly be adopted into a hectic schedule. In this article, we’ll explore four such strategies and the benefits they provide.
Go to Bed Early
Do you commonly feel sleepy in the middle of the day? Even after drinking your daily cup of coffee? If so, your circadian rhythm needs to be fixed. Circadian rhythm refers to our body clock that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Sleeping and waking at varied times can negatively affect this cycle leading to daytime sleepiness, irritability, and concentration issues.
The best way to fix a bad circadian rhythm is to follow a set sleeping time. According to research by the CDC, adults require at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Hence, if you want to wake up at 6:30 am, you should stop using electronics after 9 pm and start prepping for bed by 10:30 pm. Getting proper sleep will result in you feeling active rather than drowsy in the morning, overcoming daytime sleepiness, and performing better at work.
Fix Your Posture
Having improper posture while sitting for long periods, as we do at the office and at home, is the prime cause of neck, back, and shoulder pain. While fixing your posture is a straightforward process it can take time as you’re used to slouching rather than sitting upright.
Purchasing an ergonomic chair is a great first step toward developing good posture. These chairs provide the required arm and lumbar support needed to help you sit upright for long hours without any neck or back pain. Additionally, you can take things further with a stand-up desk, allowing you to work while standing upright rather than slouching and being sedentary.
Go for Daily Walks
Walking is the easiest exercise to practice daily. By doing so, you can reap the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight, improving muscle endurance, strengthening bones, and reducing stress levels. What’s more, exercise is an excellent way to start “spring cleaning” aspects of your life that you’re unhappy about. Aim to complete at least 10,000 steps each day which translates to roughly five miles, or an hour and 40 minutes of walking. While this may sound steep at first, it is an achievable number if you make the following changes:
- For short trips to the grocery store, theaters, and bus stations, leave the car at home and consider walking.
- At the office, opt to take the stairs rather than an elevator.
- Make time for a daily 30 minutes’ walk around your neighborhood. Those living near trails or beaches should take advantage and spend quality time in nature.
Start Eating Healthy
Everything we eat has an impact on our mood. For instance, eating foods high in sugar gives us an energy spike, but this is short-lived as, within a brief period of time, it’ll reverse, and we’ll start feeling sluggish. Practicing bad eating habits for a prolonged period can cause weight gain, cardiovascular problems, and various other health issues.
Hence, take a good look at your pantry and consider making the following dietary substitutions:
- Avoid choosing donuts, candies, and potato chips as you go to snacking options. Instead, start eating fresh fruits, whole grain snacks, and trail mix, as these will provide you energy throughout the day and nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Substitute white bread, white rice, and pasta with whole grain alternatives as they have higher nutritional content.
- As reported by the American Heart Association, the daily sugar intake should be limited to 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men and 24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women. Store-bought coffee, soft drinks, cakes, and fruit drinks often contain more sugar than the recommended intake, hence replace these items with homemade juices, healthier home-brewed options for coffee, and water.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, consistency is key. Hence, focus on adopting one strategy at a time and then incorporate others whenever you can. For instance, start with walking 10,000 steps a day which will help you feel tired and make it easy to sleep early and develop a healthy circadian rhythm.