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Living a healthy lifestyle is important for anyone who wants to feel their best and stay healthier as they get older. However, we are presented with such a huge amount of advice every day it can be confusing to work out what is best when it comes to health, and preventative healthcare can be a baffling topic. Different messages are conveyed about wellbeing and figuring out what advice to follow can be a struggle. But living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to be complicated.
We’ve compiled five key areas which are key to maintaining good health and none of them will cause much disruption to your life.
What is and isn’t healthy to eat is probably the most discussed topic when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, and to diet or not to diet is a big question, especially for people who want to lose weight. The media often bombards us with various new and popular diets, but most healthcare professionals will advocate for a simple, healthy, and balanced diet rather than a strict diet plan that restricts certain foods.
Ensuring your body receives all the nutrients it needs and isn’t being saturated with unhealthy, sugary foods is what you should be aiming for. Eating balanced meals three times a day and keeping hydrated will ensure your body is healthy and will improve other aspects such as your mental health, concentration and productivity.
You probably already know that when you sleep well, you feel better. Most people understand the benefits of sleeping well but can struggle to rectify poor sleep. Good sleep hygiene helps and it’s good practice to follow a bedtime routine every day. This should include going to bed and waking up at a regular time. Once you identify how many hours of sleep you personally need to feel well-rested, you can work out what time you should be asleep, to get up the next day at the right time and feel refreshed.
Other ways to promote good sleep include making sure your bedroom is comfortable in terms of heat, light and noise, and being clutter-free can help too. Stop using devices at least an hour before you go to bed and avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. If sleeping is still a struggle, then try mindfulness before going to bed or there are several good meditation apps now on the market which have been designed to help you drift off.
With long working hours sat at desks and more of our free time spent on devices, as a society, we have been moving towards a more sedentary lifestyle for a while. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown have likely exacerbated this as gyms and leisure facilities have closed and working from home has meant even our daily commute has largely disappeared.
Being sedentary, or spending long periods of time without moving, is damaging for several reasons. It can increase the likelihood of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. A general lack of physical activity also has a similar impact on the body and it is a common misconception that engaging in physical activity alone mitigates against the impact of a sedentary lifestyle.
To be as healthy as you can be, you need to engage in both physical activities and reduce the time you spend being sedentary. Aiming to be physically active every day and engaging in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week will help you to be healthier.
In recent years mental health is talked about more openly, however, there can still be a certain amount of stigma attached to it. Seeking help and accessing mental health services can often be more difficult than accessing treatment for a physical health condition.
There are many ways that you can improve your own mental wellbeing, but you might need more professional help. You shouldn’t hesitate to contact the appropriate services in your area if you feel you need support with your mental health.
There are a number of basic things you can be doing to keep feeling well mentally. Simply taking some time for yourself, relaxing and practising some form of mindfulness may help. But if you are struggling, there are many resources online that can help. Stress reduction and coping strategy groups are available and free. Getting outside every day and setting small achievable goals can help you to feel more motivated and eating healthily will help you to feel better, too.
It’s really important that you are proactive when it comes to your own healthcare. Healthcare providers and medical professionals now generally recognise that people are experts in their own health. Any issues with your health should include a discussion and agreement between yourself and your medical professional about what the best course of action is, for you. Having this input not only means you feel part of your own care and treatment, but it also places a responsibility on you to be proactive.
Far too many people don’t book appointments when they feel something might be wrong with their health because they don’t want to waste anyone’s time, or they feel they should just put up with whatever they are feeling. Waiting to seek the help of a professional can lead to some people being diagnosed with illnesses or diseases at a stage where they have progressed and haven’t been caught early enough to treat effectively.
Having access to doctor’s appointments with timely diagnostics and regular health screens is great for ensuring your body is in good working order. They will help identify any changes or issues early on and are key to good clinical outcomes.