I love science, particularly when it is to do with the human body. Physiology and exercise science are my two loves in this world, though at times it can cause me to overcomplicate everything!
I wanted to take a backward step and show everyone that there are very simple, very actionable ways that you can improve your health immediately. Whilst the list is built around physical health, most of the tips will have positive carry over into mental and social health as well.
1. Walk more
Walk to work, walk your dogs, walk and listen to some music, walk with some friends, it doesn’t matter why you do it, just walk! I love walking because everyone can do it. It doesn’t matter your fitness level, you can always begin with a short stroll. The benefits are far-reaching. From energy expenditure to helping people deal with stress and anxiety, I don’t think there is any form of exercise as underutilized as walking.
2. Make your food
Cooking isn’t always the most enjoyable activity, though the effort goes a long way to dealing with the widespread weight issues within our community. Many people are overconsuming calories due to the high energy density found within most processed foods. The size of the meals do not match the energy content and it is leading to incredibly high rates of obesity in our country. Cooking your own meals ensures you are using ingredients that are somewhat fresh and will usually contain far fewer calories.
3. Enjoy your food
Being healthy doesn’t mean eating broccoli at every meal. Being healthy is about consistently consuming the right amount of food that can fuel and replenish your body whilst keeping you in a healthy weight range. There are no specifics on what you must eat! Traditional representations of ‘healthy eating’ are outdated and whilst we must still consume a wide variety of foods to satisfy our protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals requirements, there is much more freedom in today’s version.
4. Get outside
Nature is a natural stress reliever. It allows us to get away from the information overload of today’s world and clear the mind. A large percentage of our population is also vitamin D deficient, which can be alleviated by simply spending some time in natural sunlight. Exercising outside is a great way to spend energy whilst reaping the benefits of stress relief and natural sunlight.
5. Be a kid
As we grow older and life gets a little too serious, we often stop playing. Time spent running around, jumping, climbing, throwing and kicking the footy becomes scarce and our bodies start to reflect the lack of stimulus. Our bodies don’t lose the capacity to play, they simply detrain due to the fact that we don’t do it anymore.
6. Lift weights
Weight lifting was once thought to cause all sorts of aches and pains later in life, though we have come to find that it is the complete opposite. Muscle mass and strength has been proven to improve the quality of life no matter the age. Weight training has proved to be beneficial for aerobic health, joint health, obesity rates and the ability to live independent later in life.
7. Socialize with exercise
Humans love to interact and to feel part of a community, we always have. Exercising in groups can be a great way to create bonds whilst increasing motivation and accountability along the way. There is no shortage of group classes available nowadays so have a look around and find an environment that suits you.
Relaxing can mean many different things to many different people. Universally I think it is safe to say that relaxing refers to taking a break from life. It is important to switch off. Both physical and mental health are improved when we dedicate time to relaxation. I am a big believer in being on or off, not somewhere in-between. Being on means giving your all to the task in front of you, whilst being off means reducing sensory input and giving yourself time to reload. It is impossible to be on all of the time and just like the laptop I am typing on, switching off will lead to greater performance when you turn back on.
9. Be self-aware
Self-awareness is what determines when you should turn yourself off. Knowing the signs of being over-worked or under-recovered allow you to better determine when you should push forward or when you need to take some rest. You may need to push your limits to find out where your capabilities currently sit.
10. Keep learning
Keep reading, listening and practising. Everything in life starts with good health and so it is essential that you continue to develop your own education. Not only does it allow you to take health into your own hands, but it also gives you the ability to teach the next generation from a young age.