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10 Steps to a healthier life

1. Walk

Walking is an activity that everyone can do, regardless of age, sporting ability or fitness level. It offers a number of benefits, including cardiovascular fitness and endurance and slowing the rate at which we lose muscle mass and bone mineral.

2. Drop the junk

Sugar, fat and salt. These three things make up the recipe for most diet-induced chronic diseases, and are most commonly found in high-processed junk food. On average, adult Australians consume in excess of the recommended maximum salt intake of 5 grams daily, which is contributing to the prevalence of elevated blood pressure among adults. Similarly, drinking a standard can of soft drink a day is associated with a 20% increase in the risk of developing diabetes. Concentrate on increasing the amount of whole foods and vegetables consumed daily, which will help you fill fuller for longer, and less likely to grab a Maccas burger or coke on your way home from work.

3. Look after your brain and your mind

Keep your mind active by reading, playing ‘thinking games’, taking up a new hobby or learning a language. These are all ways to help reduce the onset of dementia and improves brain functioning in old age. Use meditative techniques and breathing exercises to help develop mindfulness and reduce the effects stress can have on your brain and body.

4. … And your bones

Increasing calcium and vitamin D helps to reduce the risk of fractures, and the chance of developing osteoporosis as we age. A healthy level of physical activity also helps to strength bones and muscles.

5. Watch some puppy videos, or get a pet!

It is often thought that having a pet makes you happier, and there are now studies to prove it! Having a pet encourages natural everyday movement and gives you a sense of purpose, belonging and commitment. At the very least, watching puppy videos (or even cute animal videos) helps to destress and remove those bad moods!

6. Turn off the TV

There are so many benefits from this. Of course, you should still make time to watch your favourite shows, but give yourself the opportunity to get up and move, go for a walk, read a book, and save some money on the electricity bill!

7. … And your phone!

Especially at night. Vibration and noise from your phone interrupts a good sleep, and using your phone before bed can wreak havoc on your circadian rhythms (the bright light of electronic devices keep the brain alert and affect the body’s natural sleep patterns).

8. Chuck out the ciggies

Every 2 cigarettes you smoke takes 30 mins off your lifespan. In addition to the many health problems caused by smoking (think lung cancer, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, asthma and general oral health), smoking also ages the skin and organs by constricting the blood vessels and reducing blood flow, thus taking away any chance of a youthful appearance in your later years.

9. Find a market

There are a number of reasons why shopping at a farmer’s market is so much better for you than a supermarket; they promote healthy eating, provide beautiful ripe seasonal produce and gives you an opportunity to get out and stretch your legs! Plus, you’re supporting local communities and doing your bit for the environment.

10. Find out more

You are the one who has to live with your body for the rest of your life, and ultimately, you are responsible for how long that life is. Sometimes it can be difficult to know which information is the right information, given the amount we have access to. Reading articles and blogs from credible sources are good ways to start increasing your knowledge on how you can best look after yourself. Your GP can also be a great help in filtering through all the nonsense and providing you with access to someone who can. Book a consult with your GP to find out what you can do to start getting your health back on track!

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