Sometimes, it can feel overwhelming to support your health. This is especially true if you’ve fallen into bad habits such as eating fast or processed food several times a week or living a relatively sedentary lifestyle. However, even small changes can result in big results. Here are six reasonable steps you can take to get your health back on track.
Make Smart Food Choices
Many people these days find themselves too busy to cook a healthy meal at home and instead pick up fast food or reach for prepackaged, processed foods. If you do this multiple times a week, the excess calories, fat, and sodium can really add up.
Rather than immediately cut out all convenience food — which may be ideal but can lack in practicality — aim to replace just two meals a week with healthy, home cooked foods. If you find yourself on the go or at the office later than you intended, meal replacement shakes can also help you avoid the temptation to order pizza or grab a sugary drink from the vending machine.
Get Your Heart Pumping
Research indicates that just a half hour of walking, five days per week can lower your risk of heart disease. This is an easy way to improve your health — and maintain it. Simply ditching the evening sitcom and trading it for a podcast while you walk — or going for a walk with a co-worker during a break — can help you get the job done. A short daily walk or jog also has benefits for your overall mental well-being.
Protect Your Skin
There’s no doubt that going outside daily has mental and physical health benefits, but it can also wreak havoc on your skin if you don’t take measures to protect it. Even if it’s cloudy, liberally apply sunscreen before heading out to prevent damage from UV rays. This can lower your risk of later problems, like skin cancer. It also helps to preserve a youthful appearance and prevent wrinkles and sunspots.
Seek Preventative Care
Speaking of prevention — have you seen your doctor lately? Even if you currently feel like you’re in great shape, it’s important to keep up with your regular screenings and annual physicals. Some conditions — like breast cancer or high blood pressure — may go unnoticed until they are in their advanced stages. That’s why you shouldn’t skip your yearly mammogram or check-up.
Replace Alcohol With Water
It’s common to have a glass of wine here and there and attend office happy hours on occasion. But if you have heavy drinking habits, it’s time to cut back.
There are a few tricks you can use to make this easier. For one, you can drink a full glass of water before any alcohol touches your lips. This combats the dehydrating properties of alcohol and also makes it more likely that your stomach will have less room for booze. Another option is to replace one of your evening beers with water entirely. If you aren’t a drinker, keep in mind that these tricks work for soda or other sugary drinks, too.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Adults should aim to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night (children need more) to maintain good health. This can help support productivity, focus, cognition, mental and physical performance, and more. Further, being well-rested just feels good — and leads to better choices and mood.
Maintaining health doesn’t have to mean spending hours at the gym or eating nothing but salads. There are plenty of small adjustments you can make to your routine to get you back on the road to health — and help you stay there. Try one or more of these steps and see how quickly you start to notice positive changes in your life.