Living a healthy lifestyle is quite simple. It’s mostly commonsense: eat healthy food, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, spend time with friends and family, enjoy nature and contribute to your community.
The hard part is putting it all into practice, finding time for all those elements in today’s busy life! The key is to maintain a positive attitude and everything else will fall into place.
Eat healthy food
The healthiest diet is the Mediterranean diet, eaten for thousands of years by people living around the Mediterranean sea. It is high in vegetables, fruit, fish, whole grains, legumes and olive oil, and low in red meat, saturated fat and processed foods.
The Mediterranean diet is credited with preventing heart disease and high blood pressure, reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and depression, preventing asthma in small children, and protecting the skin against sun damage and wrinkles.
The nutritional components of the Mediterranean diet are:
- Fruits and vegetables: antioxidants, vitamins and fibre
- Fish: protein and Omega-3 essential fatty acids
- Grains and legumes: protein, complex carbohydrates and fibre
- Olive oil: polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats for healthy skin and nervous system.
It doesn’t matter what sort of exercise you do, what matters is how often. Regular exercise – 30 minutes every day, or an hour every second day – keeps your muscles, tendons and nervous system active and growing and your joints flexible.
Try to develop a routine that fits in with your life, so it’s easy to exercise. Alternate between aerobic exercise to give your heart a workout: jogging, running, dancing, playing tennis – and resistance exercise to develop strength: lifting weights, exercise machines.
Get enough sleep
Sleep is the often-overlooked element of a healthy life. Everyone needs between six to eigfht hours sleep a night. To get enough sleep:
- Avoid caffeinated drinks after 8pm
- Don’t stay up late watching movies or surfing the web
- Go to bed at the same time each night
- Create a little bedtime routine so your mind and body know it’s time to sleep.
Stay connected to your community
As well as enjoying time with family and friends, be part of your neighbourhood. Shop locally where possible. Greet people in your street or on your bus. Join in with local activities. Maybe volunteer at a local charity, school or community organisation. People who feel connected to where they live are happier than people who are isolated.
Take a break and enjoy nature
Take a break: work is not the be all and end all. Make time to take time off at weekends, or rostered days off, as well as annual breaks, to spend relaxing. Try to get back to nature – whether it’s your own back yard, a local park, or somewhere wild and beautiful.
Having access to appealing natural environments encourages physical activity and it also has a calming effect, reducing stress and blood pressure, even cholesterol levels.
The right food, exercise and sleep, together with connection to your community and to the natural world, all combine to keep your body and mind working well. And when you feel good, you can be positive about life!