With a great amount of information about health and wellness readily available, it’s easy to suffer from data overload. In fact, it’s rarely a lack of information that prevents us from implementing new nutrition or exercise habits. Rather, it’s an inability to turn the available information into knowledge, and in turn, into action.
I should own stock in 3M, given my affinity for Post-it notes. Lists provide some semblance of organization and direction. When the task at hand is complex, lists allow you to break it down and prioritize the larger objective into smaller digestible bits. So today, let’s discuss 5 Things You Can Do to Improve Your Health and Wellness:
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, we should aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (level of difficulty 5 on a scale of 10) per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (level of difficulty 7-8 on a scale of 10) per week. We should also full-body strength train 2 times per week. While I’m not going to disagree with these recommendations, I am concerned that someone with limited time, resources or who lacks a built-in habit base can execute this consistently. That person might also look at this recommendation, feel overwhelmed and not make the effort at all. So, let’s make the bar a bit more reachable and build some good habits.
A new study suggests that walk breaks lasting as little as two minutes, but executed consistently will have positive health benefits. Also, you can combine your strength training and cardio workout by creating a circuit. As an added bonus, circuits tend to skew toward the vigorous end of the endurance training spectrum, so you might actually be able to hit the stated recommendation for vigorous exercise.
Remember, consistency wins every time! Even if we’re not achieving the recommended guidelines, circuit training allows us to get both strength training and cardiovascular training in. We’re also building good habits that we can add on to later.
We’ve been told since childhood to eat our veggies. We know we should and we know why. However, we don’t always execute. Vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals important for physiological functioning. Vegetables have cancer fighting properties. Vegetables also balance out the acidity of proteins and grains. Too much acidity means the loss of bone strength and muscle mass. In a perfect world, we’d have about 10 servings of vegetables (and fruits) per day. But, if you can aim for eating 1-2 servings (one serving = ½ cup of chopped veggies, or 1 cup of raw, leafy veggies) with each meal, you’ll go a long way toward consuming enough of this powerful food group. After all, mama knows best!
While no guidelines exist for water and fluid consumption there are recommendations. In reality, if you’re not exercising it’s pretty easy to stay hydrated, with about 2L of water in addition to food intake being sufficient. However, there are other considerations beyond hydration:
Ultimately, we want our fluid input to match our fluid output. This means increasing fluid intake if we’re exercising, live in a hot and humid environment, suffering from a fever or breast feeding. Water also helps to control hunger, as we sometimes confuse thirst and hunger cues. Perhaps the most obvious is that water is a naturally occurring, zero calorie beverage! One way in which we overconsume calories is through sugary or calorie dense drinks. Replacing even one or two of these with water can have a significant impact on our body composition and overall health. Try to drink water with each meal, between each meal and before/during exercise. Doing so will not only ensure proper hydration, but assist in making you healthier overall.
The National Sleep Foundation states that adults under age 65 should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. We need sleep to recover, to stay focused and to maintain our health. In fact, sleep impacts everything from decision making to performance to digestion. And, according to the CDC limited sleep may increase your risk for:
High Blood Pressure
Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke
Poor Mental Health
Lastly, those who feel run down tend to reach for sugar-laden energy drinks to prop them up, which negatively impacts body composition. Even if you’re drinking tea or black coffee the overconsumption of caffeine harms sleep quality and the cycle persists. Let’s break the cycle – improve your performance, focus, productivity and health by getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night!
It’s time to put knowledge into action. Whether it’s moving more, adding in a serving of veggies at each meal, consuming appropriate amounts of water or getting enough sleep, it’s time to get to work. As you build confidence within your chosen habit and the behavior becomes engrained, add on with a second habit. Remember, habits can be scaled, so pick the starting point that’s right for you. But don’t wait – the sooner you start the closer you’ll be to achieving your longer term goals!
Creating habit change is not easy, especially when you’re just starting out. The road ahead can seem overwhelming. But each small change gets you one step closer to your goals - pick one thing that is doable for you and get to work. At Vitalifit, we believe that creating sustainable habits one at a time is the best way to create lasting change. If you’ve tried instituting health habits before and are looking for a new approach, contact us today to join the Vitalifit Coaching Program that is right for you.