As the year gradually winds up and the New Year beckons, it has become necessary to reflect on the outgoing year with a view to changing some bad habits while imbibing healthy lifestyles that will guarantee your sound health in the New Year. Furthermore, it's interesting to know that while many often overlook these simple health tips, they usually make the difference between those who enjoy good health all year round and those who are avoidably ill most of the time.
This article is a wake-up call to enlighten our esteemed readers on general lifestyle measures they need to adopt going into the New Year:
1. Feed the mind/body connection.
Most people tend to be their own best critic, remembering times they failed and talking themselves out of trying again. "You can just as easily talk yourself into it," Rhodes said. And if you backslide, give yourself grace. Tomorrow is always another day to start again, said Dr. Carrie DeLone, medical director of Holy Spirit Medical Group, a Geisinger Affiliate, in Camp Hill. "Never speak negatively to yourself; always focus on what you were able to do right," she said.
2. Fuel your body for exercise.
An hour before you exercise, eat a good source of carbohydrates to give your muscles fuel, Rhodes said. Try a piece of fruit, a granola bar, a cup of soup or a couple of Fig Newtons. After exercise, give yourself a two-hour window to appropriately replenish food and rebuild and repair muscles. Drink chocolate milk for a good source of protein and eat whole grain crackers, for example, she said.
3. Change it up.
Any new way of eating or exercising is bound to get old after a while so if you're bored with the treadmill, try a dance class or a new sport you might enjoy, DeLone said. Engage a buddy to do it with you to keep you going, she said.
Stress hormones evolved to enable rapid response to threats in our environment and we are not made to feel constant, low to moderate levels of stress at all times, said Dr. Scott Setzer, a doctor who practices in Lemoyne. Make it a priority to find ways to de-stress with relaxing activities or meditation, he said.
5. Stay up to date.
Get your recommended screenings – mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears, blood pressure and cholesterol checks – and shots for things like the flu and shingles. It's important to make time for your annual wellness visit, DeLone said.
6. Drink plenty of water
Needless to say that the body requirement for fluids has risen significantly during this dry harmattan period hence the need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The amount of insensible water loss from the skin is increased and this lost fluid must be replaced to maintain the balance of the body system. You may have observed a deep yellow coloration of your urine in recent times or that you urinate less often and in smaller quantities, they are signs that you need to up your fluid intake to prevent problems like acute kidney injury and heat stroke. Experts recommend at least 6 - 8 glasses of water a day.
7. Get adequate sleep
Amidst efforts to make ends meet as you prepare for the New Year, remember not to sacrifice your sleep. The health benefits of sound sleep cannot be overstressed ranging from boosted immunity, especially for children to enhanced cardiovascular functions. In the light of the above, you will do yourself a lot of good to get at least 6 hours of night sleep every day of the New Year.
8. Exercise regularly
Indulging in moderate exercise on a regular basis of 3 - 5 days a week is not without numerous benefits. It helps to burn excess fat, shed excess weight as well as keep the heart and blood vessels in good working condition. In a world where virtually everything is on automatic mode, we now need to make conscious efforts at maintaining an exercise routine such as deciding to take a walk instead of driving a car, washing the clothes rather than using the washing machine and so on.
9. Eat well
Nothing can be truer than the popular adage that you are what you eat. Make sure to eat balanced diets all year round including plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits such as oranges, apples and banana are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. For instance, banana is very rich in potassium which has been shown to protect the heart.
10. Quit excess alcohol and smoking
Excess drinking and smoking are risk factors for several medical conditions including stroke, diabetes, hypertension and cancers among others. Going into the New Year, you will benefit from cutting down on your alcohol intake and if you smoke, it is time to quit.
11. Maintain good hygiene
Good hygienic practices have no alternative. Diarrhea-related illnesses are leading killers among under-fives. But many of these deaths can be averted by practicing simple hygienic measures such as frequent hand washing with soap and water, cooking meats properly, thorough washing of fruits and vegetables as well as drinking only safe potable water.
12. Ensure regular check-up
In Nigeria, many of us tend to have a bad health-seeking behavior and only visit the hospital only when we are very sick, having exhausted other options. However, it is essential to check your blood pressure and glucose level every 6 months to exclude hypertension and diabetes respectively. This is even more important for individuals above 40 years or who have a family history of any of these chronic medical conditions.