When it comes to being healthy, it’s your ongoing habits that really count. Having one cheeseburger per month won’t give you a heart attack, but going for a jog once a month won’t get you in shape either. The baseline of your health is determined by your genetics, but the rest of it is a cumulative reflection of your regular habits.
If your goal is to become healthier, turning your routines completely upside down for a health-kick-overhaul can actually be counterproductive. Crash diets and unrealistic exercise goals can cause you to become overwhelmed, intimidated and give up easier. Often, it is much more effective to slowly replace your unhealthy habits with better ones, creating a healthier lifestyle that is much easier to maintain over the long term. For more information on this, you can check out the healthy tips in the “Living Well” section at HBF.
So, what are some of the small habits that are easy to change, but can make a major difference to your health?
Have a Savoury Breakfast Instead of a Sweet One
Did you know that a bowl of bran flakes and granola, a breakfast that seems healthy, can contain up to five teaspoons of sugar? Combine that with the sugar in your milk and coffee and you are loading yourself up with plenty of extra sugar before you even start your day. When you fill your body up with sugar first thing in the morning, you will experience a blood sugar peak and then a dramatic drop – which is why you feel spaced out and crave donuts at the office around 10am.
Try making a habit of having a savoury breakfast instead containing ingredients such as eggs, bacon, vegetables and whole grains. You will eat much less sugar in your day and the extra protein will leave you feeling fuller for longer.
Enjoy a Hot Bath Before Bed
Many people struggle with insomnia and poor quality of sleep, which can have a long term negative effect on health. If this describes you, perhaps changing your bedtime routine will help. Sitting up in bed looking at your phone or laptop keeps your brain buzzing with activity, when you should be winding down and clearing your mind for a more restful sleep. Instead, put the electronics away, run a hot bath, add some lavender scented bubbles and enjoy a relaxing soak before curling up in bed.
The hot water relaxes your muscles and calms you, while the effect of your body cooling down afterward sends you straight into a happy slumber. Also, once you follow this routine for a while you will start to associate bath time with bedtime, triggering your brain to stop stressing and mellow out.
Take a Walk for 30 Minutes Every Day
We all know the benefits of regular exercise, but sometimes it can be difficult to fit into our day. Also, your job might require sitting in front of a computer screen for most of the day, which means that you burn fewer calories than previous generations that needed to do more work and manual labour.
However, no matter how busy you are I can guarantee that there are 30 spare minutes in your day when you can go for a brisk walk around your neighbourhood. Even this small amount of exercise will lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, hip fracture, depression, dementia and many other diseases. It will also help you to burn calories, raise your metabolism and improve your circulation. Take a friend or the dog with you, or use the time to listen to music or an educational podcast – you will begin to look forward to your walk every day!
These little habits are not difficult to implement, but over time they will have a significant effect on your health.