Many of us are often being told by doctors and the media as well our friends and families, that the best way to live a long and happy life is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. It certainly makes sense to us, but it is not always so clear when you are trying to work out what to give up, what to take up, what to change and what to keep the same. This is not always easy as there are many contrasting approaches to health and sometimes people with great intentions may come across conflicting advice. So: what is a healthy lifestyle, exactly? Here is an easy ten-point checklist that you can use to see just how good for you your daily behavior really is…
1. Eating Well?
So, eating healthily is something all of us need to think about (or may ignore) every day of our adult lives. Once we are old enough to choose what we eat, it really is the healthiest thing for both body and mind to make food choices which support a long and happy life. Trouble is, the advice on what this can consist of can vary hugely – some people go all out for wholegrains, others eat Paleo, others swear by no dairy. On top of this, eating well does not necessarily mean eating to lose weight, so the advice needs to be adapted to personal circumstances and to different stages of life.
There has been much talk of the Mediterranean-style diet being the healthiest – lean protein, including plenty of fish, moderate carbs, lots of veg, some fruit, good oils like olive oil. But when it comes to food, what is a healthy lifestyle? Even the views on this can vary, so for the latest advice we can quote the NHS Choices advice on the balance of foods in the perfect daily diet:
To have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to eat:
• plenty of fruit and vegetables
• plenty of starchy foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta
• some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein
• some milk and dairy foods
• just a small amount of food and drinks that are high in fat and/or sugar
The NHS Also suggests that we cut salt and sugar as well as unhealthy fats, to a minimum.
2. Getting Enough Cardio?
So: when it comes to the right amount of cardio, or puff-making aerobic exercise, what is a healthy lifestyle? Once again, the NHS offers clear guidelines for adults which are worth quoting verbatim. To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
3. Lowering the Toxic Load?
Toxins are effectively poisons, so it makes sense to try and cut them out of your life. The most toxic habit aside from illegal drugs? Smoking. Do whatever you need to quit this cancer-causing habit as soon as possible and help minimize the risks of terminal illnesses. When it comes to alcohol, stick to the current guidelines of 14 units per week for women, 21 per week for men – they may soon be reduced but are not a bad limit to set. Also, go at least 2 days per week with no alcohol whatsoever.
Also, if possible, cut back on the toxins in other areas of your life – don’t eat E numbers, or over-fragrance yourself and your home and also, every 2-3 times per year you might think about giving yourself a juice cleanse or other detox.
4. Regular MOTs?
Do keep your health in check. Go for regular check-ups at the dentist and consider a Lifescan or similar health check if you are over 40. Don’t miss appointments for smear tests or prostate checks and if you exhibit symptoms that are troubling your mind, don’t keep them a secret – tell your G.P. Sounds obvious, but it is all part of a healthy lifestyle.
5. Caring For Your Mind?
Mental health is big news at the moment, thanks in no small part to various government initiatives and the enduring popularity of Stephen Fry, President of MIND. But with good mental health what is a healthy lifestyle? Far from a fad, understanding this is essential to all our health and well-being. Look after your mind – share your worries with friends, or if needs be, professionals; get enough sleep to recharge mind and body; nip unhealthy mind activities, such as obsessing, in the bud, maybe take up meditation. Try to stay balanced and healthy in mind and your whole being will benefit.
6. Staying Flexible?
Take up some kind of stretching, toning or balancing exercise such as yoga, Pilates, general stretching etc. to stay supple in your muscles and joints. This could have excellent long-term benefits, including a greater extent of flexibility in the longer term.
7. Good Work/Life Balance?
If you are a workaholic, that is very stressful for the body, mind and soul. If you never work at all (or carry out any useful enddeavour) then it is no good for the body, mind or soul either. Try to work to live rather than the other way round. Stress is one of the major killers in the Western world, so put relaxation and taking real holidays high on the agenda.
8. Supplements, Sun and Superfoods?
Hurry! Open the door and step into the sunshine to benefit from a natural boost. The suns rays act upon our skin to help your body produce vitamin D, which is essential in combatting heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. While you’re about it, if you suspect you might be lacking in other nutrients such as key vitamins and minerals despite a healthy diet, don’t hesitate to take a reputable multi-vitamin supplement to boost the levels of the good stuff in your system. Finally, in order to enjoy the best possible health, do consider eating some daily superfoods such as beetroot, broccoli and kale, as well as enjoying the odd sprinkling of tasty additions such as maca, chia seeds, flax and other potent superfoods.
9. Friends and Fun Sorted?
Feeling happy and optimistic? Research has shown that those with a positive attitude suffer less from ill health. Try to augh every day and flood your brain with feel-good hormones. Plus, do what you can to avoid getting lonely. Facebook is all well and good, but make sure you have a small handful of very good friends with whom you can genuinely share your hopes and fears.
10. Enjoying A Little Bit of What You Fancy?
It has been shown by research that the happiest humans are in love and in work that they love. Positive human relationships, including the physical side, are vital to our true happiness and that, in turn, impacts directly upon every aspect of our health. So – stay positive and do what, and who, you love, knowing that it all adds up to better physical and mental health all round.