Specialists believe that looking after your health is not just about going to the gym. Although exercise is important, it is maintaining a healthy daily routine which keeps us in good health as well as feeling great and looking good. What type of routines does the medical community recommend for improving our health? The answer lies in a combination of habits related with eating and exercising together with a few methods on how to completely switch off, which will benefit you more than you think.
- Watch your weight. Excess weight is one of our health’s biggest enemies. According to WHO, obesity has tripled in recent decades, and this is having an effect. The institution reminds us that a high Body Mass Index (BMI) is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some cancers. That is why it is so important that our BMI is below 25, and to find out what our BMI is, we divide our weight in kilograms by our height squared in meters. There are online calculators which make this very easy to work out.
- Have a piece of fruit for breakfast. The famous saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” disguises a great truth – we need to include fruit in our daily diet to ensure we are ingesting the correct amount of fibre, water, vitamins and minerals. To be more exact, nutritionists recommend we have three pieces of fresh fruit a day. This is one of the reasons why smoothies have become so fashionable, as they cover the body’s daily requirements in a single drink.
- Spend half an hour a day walking or doing some other type of gentle exercise. You don’t need to work up a sweat at the gym every day, but you do need to fight an inactive lifestyle with some exercise. It’s important however that you enjoy the workout, so you choose: walking, running, cycling, playing golf, paddle tennis…. Exercising is a healthy way to fight cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease and certain types of cancer. It is estimated that those who do not get enough physical exercise have a 20% to 30% higher mortality risk than those who are sufficiently active.
- Keep an eye on accumulating fat around the abdomen. Not all fat should worry us equally. The most harmful to the heart is the one that accumulates around the abdomen, warns a study recently published in Journal of the American Heart Association. That’s why we should measure around our waist at belly button level. In women this measurement ought to be below 88 cm, whereas for men to be at low risk it shouldn’t exceed 102 cm.
- Reduce your consumption of salt and sugar. Another very healthy habit is to lower your salt and sugar intake. When we add up all the small amounts of glucose we have consumed at the end of the day, the result is usually much more than the daily total of 25 grams (about three sugar sachets) recommended by WHO. The same can be said for salt: the recommended amount of salt following European guidelines, is currently between 5 and 6 grams of salt per day, which equals one teaspoon of salt in the entire day. However, we often go well over that amount, which adversely affects our health by increasing our blood pressure levels and giving rise to fluid retention.
- Include more fish in your diet. If we had to choose between red meat and fish, we should really lean towards the latter. This is the advice given by WHO, recommending we consume three or four portions of fish weekly. Eating red and processed meat in excessive quantities is linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, while high levels of fish consumption are associated with a decreased risk and it is for this reason, amongst others, why we should include it more in our diet.
- Stretching. To feel fit and well, we must not only eat healthily and do a bit of exercise, but we must also learn how to relax our muscles to intensify our feeling of well-being. This kind of exercise also assists in freeing the mind.