Healthy Mind

Re­solv­ing to try some­thing for a week can soon turn into a lifestyle change you can sus­tain.

Health & Nutrition - - NEWS -

Time to turn over a healthy new leaf

Start­ing on the path to bet­ter health can feel over­whelm­ing. The thought of try­ing to make a big change in your diet, weight, or ex­er­cise may seem dras­tic or un­re­al­is­tic – par­tic­u­larly if you try to tackle them all at once. But like any jour­ney, all it takes to get go­ing is just one step. There is a lot of power in start­ing slow and small. The lit­tle changes add up. For ex­am­ple, if you go for a 10-minute walk, then the 10 min­utes be­comes eas­ier, and maybe you’ll feel good about go­ing for 15 min­utes, then 20. You’ll en­joy it, and be­fore you know it, with­out over­whelm­ing your­self, you’ll feel bet­ter. That’s a con­cept that won’t be as daunt­ing as jump­ing into sev­eral ma­jor lifestyle changes si­mul­ta­ne­ously. But where to be­gin? Con­sider the fol­low­ing sug­ges­tions. Try one of them for a day or two, then a week. If you like it, keep go­ing. Or try an­other sug­ges­tion on the list un­til some­thing clicks for you. Just try one sim­ple change, and see how easy it can be to get healthy.

WALK FOR 10 MIN­UTES PER DAY

Walk­ing is one of the eas­i­est and most ef­fec­tive ways to ex­er­cise. It can help lower the risk of high blood pres­sure, heart dis­ease, stroke and di­a­betes. It can also strengthen bones and mus­cles, burn calo­ries, and lift mood. Try walk­ing for 10 min­utes per day for one week. Walk slowly for a few min­utes to warm up, and then walk briskly for a few min­utes to get your heart pump­ing. Walk slowly again for a cool-down. Avoid

un­even ground and cracked or crum­bling side­walks. If you feel com­fort­able walk­ing, then grad­u­ally in­crease your walk­ing time, a lit­tle more each week. Your ul­ti­mate goal will be 150 min­utes of brisk walk­ing per week.

IM­PROVE SLEEP HY­GIENE

Your sleep en­vi­ron­ment, and the ac­tiv­i­ties lead­ing up to sleep, may be keep­ing you from get­ting a good night’s sleep. Fix that by mak­ing im­prove­ments to your sleep hy­giene for a week. Re­solve to keep a reg­u­lar sleepand-wake sched­ule, which can im­prove your cir­ca­dian rhythms. Keep your room cool at night, and turn the lights down low. An hour-and-a- half be­fore bed­time, shut off elec­tronic gad­gets such as com­put­ers and tele­vi­sions. Limit al­co­hol in­take af­ter din­ner; it can help you fall asleep at first, but then in­ter­rupts sleep re­peat­edly. Avoid eat­ing food, es­pe­cially spicy food, close to bed­time, as it may cause heart­burn. If it’s not hard mak­ing one of those changes for a week, add in the oth­ers grad­u­ally.

IN­CREASE YOUR FRUITS AND VEG­GIES

Eat­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles can help lower your risk of heart at­tack and stroke and may even play a role in pre­vent­ing com­mon causes of vi­sion prob­lems. The ben­e­fit comes from the

many vi­ta­mins, min­er­als, and other nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring com­pounds in plants. The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion rec­om­mends we eat five serv­ings of fruits and veg­eta­bles per day. An easy way to work to­ward that is to dou­ble the amount of ei­ther fruit or veg­eta­bles for the day. Snack on fruit. Add veg­eta­bles and legumes to omelets, sand­wiches, or rice. Try it for a week. If the menu feels sus­tain­able, add an­other fruit or veg­gie the fol­low­ing week, un­til you get to five or more serv­ings per day.

BOOST YOUR FLU­IDS

Healthy older adults should be con­sum­ing 30 to 50 ounces of flu­ids per day (about 3 to 6 cups) to stay hy­drated, and to keep ev­ery sys­tem in the body func­tion­ing prop­erly. Wa­ter-rich foods such as soups, fruits and veg­eta­bles count. Un­for­tu­nately, older adults of­ten fall short of the daily re­quire­ments. That may keep the body from get­ting nu­tri­ents to the cells, flush­ing bac­te­ria from the blad­der, and mak­ing the bow­els move nor­mally. In­crease your flu­ids by us­ing a big­ger glass and fill­ing it up each time you have a drink; us­ing a straw, if that will en­cour­age more drink­ing; hav­ing a glass of wa­ter at snack times and at ev­ery meal; eat­ing more wa­ter-rich foods; or us­ing a pitcher or wa­ter bot­tle with ounce mark­ings, fill­ing it to the de­sired amount for the day, then re­solv­ing to drink the contents grad­u­ally, through­out the day.

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