Get your com­mu­nity happy and healthy

We’re more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence ill­ness and lower moods as the days get shorter and we head into au­tumn, says Lau­ren Par­sons.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER - Lau­ren Par­sons is an award win­ning Well­be­ing Spe­cial­ist. More:lau­ren­par­sons.co.nz.

Stay­ing ac­tive in your neigh­bour­hood is one pos­i­tive way to help keep you healthy and happy. It will also con­nect you with your neigh­bours.

FOUR TIPS TO HELP YOU THRIVE THIS AU­TUMN

1. Adopt an ac­tive at­ti­tude: Walk­ing and bik­ing will give you more op­por­tu­ni­ties to con­nect with neigh­bours. Choose to see ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to move your body as a pos­i­tive rather than an in­con­ve­nience. Switch your de­fault set­ting to ac­tive and mul­ti­task move­ment into your ev­ery­day rou­tines so it doesn’t take any ex­tra time. Jog up ev­ery set of stairs you see or park fur­ther away and en­joy a walk. Keep your bike or train­ing shoes ready for ac­tion. Plan ahead and drop off work clothes once a week so you can cy­cle most other days. 2. Snack on ex­er­cise: Small things add up to make a big dif­fer­ence. Imag­ine com­mit­ting to four short and sharp min­utes of ex­er­cise ev­ery day that you can eas­ily fit into your life. Time is the most re­ported bar­rier to ex­er­cise, but you can eas­ily over­come this by in­clud­ing one minute bursts through­out your day. This boosts your mood, coun­ter­acts the neg­a­tive ef­fects of sit­ting and leaves you feel­ing en­er­gised rather than ex­hausted. Stud­ies have shown short in­tense bursts of ex­er­cise give many more health ben­e­fits than long steady ex­er­cise. Try a few press-ups with your hands on the edge of the bench while the jug boils, or some squats while you read emails.

3. Play and laugh­ter pro­duce pos­i­tive hor­mones that coun­ter­act stress. Get­ting out­doors to play is ideal be­cause sun­light also acts as a nat­u­ral anti-de­pres­sant, pro­duc­ing vi­ta­min D and boost­ing sero­tonin, our ‘happy hor­mone’. Rekin­dle your youth­ful spark by ex­plor­ing lo­cal parks and play­grounds. Let your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren in­spire you. Make them into your own per­sonal train­ers by telling them you will copy ev­ery­thing they do for the next five min­utes and see the fun that un­folds. Take a ball to the park, set up an ob­sta­cle course, do a trea­sure hunt and don’t be afraid to jump on those swings ei­ther!

4. Con­nect. So­cial con­nec­tions are one of the big­gest de­ter­mi­nants of long-term hap­pi­ness. In­vite your neigh­bours over for a potluck meal to build those con­nec­tions. One of the best ways to eat well is by hav­ing nu­tri­tious meals in your freezer ready for de­mand­ing week nights. Cre­ate a fun so­cial way to pre­pare these by or­gan­is­ing a bulk cook-up to­gether with your neigh­bours. You can all re­turn home sat­is­fied with a stack of meals to freeze and en­joy at a later date.

Neigh­bourly.co.nz is a great way to kick-start con­nec­tions with oth­ers who live nearby so you can all en­cour­age each other to stay well and happy.

Neigh­bourly is a NZ-owned so­cial me­dia site cre­at­ing easy ways for neigh­bours to talk and con­nect. Join us at neigh­bourly.co.nz or down­load our new iPhone and An­droid apps.

Cy­cling is just one way to keep your spir­its up as mem­o­ries of sum­mer fade.

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