Most people think they do a fair job of maintaining their health with satisfactory eating habits and exercise when they can manage it. However, a study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” found that only three percent of adults meet the four key healthy living criteria. They eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, exercise for 30 minutes on five days a week, maintain a healthy weight and do not smoke.
No one can dispute the importance of these four healthy lifestyle habits. However, other factors also contribute to health and well being – factors like sleep, attitude, laughter and meditation. The good news is that people can improve their health with a few small changes in these various areas. If you want to be fitter, happier and healthier a year from now, these five steps can help.
1. Lose One Pound a Week
A pound a week may not seem like much, but it adds up to 52 pounds in a year. That is a significant amount of weight for most people. Fortunately, even overweight people do not have to lose that much weight to reap the health benefits. According to the research, losing just ten percent of your weight can improve your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. It can also reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
2. Rid Your Body of Toxins
Body detoxification has been around for centuries. Hippocrates recommended fasting for better health, and many religious groups use fasting for spiritual purification. A natural body cleanse can eliminate impurities that contribute to poor health. The best cleanses target three critical organs: your liver, colon and kidneys. Whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetable drinks are effective body cleanses, and online stores like www.naturessunshine.com have healthy supplements that support intestinal health.
3. Replace Butter With Oils
Did you know that you can reduce your heart disease risk by nearly 20 percent if you replace butter with oil? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, their researchers noticed this drop in risk when they analyzed data on more than 13,000 people who replaced the saturated fats in butter with healthier fats in soybean and canola oils. The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in oils are good sources of vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids and other heart-healthy compounds.
4. Socialize With Your Friends
People with strong personal bonds are more likely to outlive their less-social peers – 50 percent more likely, according to some researchers. People who socialize also have better memory and cognitive skills than lonely, isolated people. Good times and laughter keep you grounded, so make an effort to contact one friend a month. In a year, you will have strengthened your friendships with twelve people and added years to your life.
5. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Adequate sleep is a healthy lifestyle essential. Well-rested people enjoy a number of health benefits including better appetite control and a better ability to handle stress. On the other hand, a sleep shortage may increase your risk of obesity, diabetes, heart problems, memory loss and other health conditions. For an extra hour of sleep, go to bed a minute earlier each night for two months.
Your list of healthy lifestyle changes may be different from the list of a friend or family member. Different people have different health needs. The important thing is that you can make a difference in your own health and well being. Even the smallest steps can make your lifestyle healthier over time.
April Labarron is a native to Southern California. She has her BA in English/Literature from MSJC in Menifee, Ca. She views her freelance writing, not only as a career, but as her passion. Other areas of interest include; movies, food, singing, soccer, traveling, shopping and a continuous desire for learning. She lives on her own and is accompanied by her Pomeranian named, Elvis. She currently resides in Temecula, CA.