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9 simple (yes, simple!) habits to improve your health

Wellness

9 simple (yes, simple!) habits to improve your health

Making small lifestyle changes can reap huge health benefits over time.
Senior exercise physiologist Angie Hill at Tidelands Health HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness, our region’s only medical fitness center, offers some simple ideas to start down the path to a healthier you.

1. Walk just a bit more

There are plenty of ways to get in extra steps each day. While at work, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park as far away as possible at the grocery store and walk briskly to the entrance. Work in a 10-minute stroll during your lunchtime. 

2. Drink more water

If you’re already drinking water, aim for an extra glass or two every day. Water is essential for your body to perform its best; it helps regulate body temperature, keeps joints, the spine, the brain and other tissues lubricated and flushes away wastes and toxins through urination. Flavor your water with fruit to make it more palatable if you’d prefer. 

3. Replace sodas, including diet sodas, with alternates

If you crave fizzy drinks, use carbonated mineral water to satisfy that craving instead of soda. If carbonated water just doesn’t cut it, try drinking unsweetened teas or fruit-infused water that you can make at home. Fill a water pitcher with cucumber slices, strawberries or lemons and limes and store the pitcher in your fridge overnight to make a refreshing drink you can sip throughout the next day. Sodas are jam-packed with sugar, and even diet sodas can be unhealthy because they can increase cravings for high-calorie foods.

4. Get 30 minutes more sleep

Sleep is critical to health. A lack of sleep can increase your risk for a host of health conditions, including heart disease and high blood pressure and can affect your energy levels.
Build a new habit into your lifestyle by going to bed a half-hour earlier, aiming for a solid seven or eight hours of sleep each night. To help you fall asleep faster, leave your phone in another room and instead read a book or listen to soft music to drift off.

5. Work out at home

If you’re busy, it can be difficult to get to the gym. That’s one of the reasons Tidelands Health HealthPoint Center for Health and Fitness now offers a virtual membership that allows you to take advantage of exercise classes at home. In addition to streaming live classes, you also have access to a library of exercise videos as part of the $15 monthly membership fee.

6. Start your day with a healthy breakfast

Begin each day fueled by a healthy, wholesome breakfast that’s high in fiber and protein, which will help energize you throughout the morning. Eating a healthy breakfast clears away brain fog and can help reduce mid-morning cravings for high-sugar foods like doughnuts and pastries. Some healthful breakfast options include oatmeal with toppings such as nuts and raisins or omelets with peppers, onions, spinach, mushrooms and low-fat cheese.

7. Get up at work

If you’re sedentary or have a sedentary job, set an alarm and get up every 30 minutes to walk around. Your leg muscles make up a large part of your body. When you sit for extended periods, your metabolism can slow down. Help offset the slowdown and burn a few calories by getting up and exercising your legs regularly. 

8. Pack your lunch

Pack your lunch to avoid fast-food drive-throughs, being sure to add a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables to the meal.
If you are feeling extra motivated, try to prepare at least one healthy dinner ahead of time every week. That way when you get home late from work or you’re too tired to cook, you won’t be as tempted to grab something unhealthy to eat.

9. Exercise with a friend

Having a workout buddy makes exercise that much more enjoyable. Plus, it creates accountability to help you stay on track and enables your friend to help cheer you on during those times when you need motivation.
“Some of these changes may seem small, but they will be well worth it down the road,” Hill says. “If you slip up and get off track along the way, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just get back in the saddle and keep moving forward.
“Before you know it, these small changes will become long-lasting healthy habits.”

Meet the Expert

Angie Hill

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