Researched & written by Stacy Whitman.
Looking to improve your health and fitness in the new year? Try one (or all!) of these seven simple strategies that don’t require guzzling green juice or running 26.2 miles.
TAKE ACTIVITY BREAKS
Sitting for more than eight hours a day – behind a desk, in a car or in front of a screen – dramatically increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer, research shows. Experts aren’t sure why but suspect a connection to sugar and fat metabolism–and hitting the gym for an hour daily won’t fix the problem. If you often spend hours glued to your chair, aim to take an activity break at least 1 to 3 minutes every half an hour. Get free reminders with the Move app (for iPhone or Android).
CATCH SOME D’S
Vitamin D is important for strong bones as well as heart, brain, immune system and metabolic function. An estimated 50 percent of adults are deficient in the fat-soluble vitamin, and those living in higher latitudes and who wear sunscreen are at higher risk. Eating more fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna and mackerel) can help boost your vitamin D, but it’s almost impossible to reach optimal levels through food. So pop a vitamin D3 supplement. Read the Zenergy blog post by Jody Moss on Vitamin D.
Muscles play a vital role in supporting overall health and wellness, especially as we age. In a recent study of 4,449 adults ages 50 and older, those with low muscle strength were twice as likely to die from a wide range of causes as those with normal muscle strength. Regular strength training can help speed up your metabolism, protect your bones, lower blood pressure, and reduce diabetes risk. Start small ― even just using your body weight for resistance ― and increase the challenge as you get stronger.
Quality sleep is essential for a healthy body, and an estimated one-third of Americans don’t get enough. Sleep affects your immune system, hormones, appetite, weight, energy, thinking, concentration, temper, mood, and overall life expectancy. A new study found that young athletes who snoozed more than 8 hours a night reduced their odds of injury by a whopping 61%. Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours daily – the recommended amount for adults.
CUT BACK ON SUGAR
Sugary foods and drinks can zap your energy, increase anxiety, and raise triglyceride levels. Over time, a high-sugar diet could lead to serious health problems including heart disease, stroke, and more. Watch Dr. Jody Stanislaw’s TED Talk to learn the full importance of kicking the sugar habit and tips on how to do it.
Venting to others may sound like a good way to blow off steam. But dwelling on negatives can leave you feeling powerless, hopeless and down in the dumps. So avoid complaining just for the sake of complaining. Instead, talk it through with the goal of finding solutions, or try a simple, achievable practice of mediation to help release negative energy and create positive change.
LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA
Ever feel bad about your life after scrolling your Instagram or Facebook newsfeed? Social comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy, loneliness, and depression. To avoid falling into the trap, remember that people’s lives aren’t as perfect as they may appear on screen. Remove Facebook and Instagram apps from your phone or disable notifications. And resolve to spend more time with friends and family in real life.