More of us are becoming more health-conscious every day. The indicators are everywhere and I’m glad for it. I suspect you’ve given more thought toward improving your health lately.
But many also find themselves overwhelmed by all the new information and health tips released everyday. It can become difficult to know where to start or focus.
As much as I love to study the latest and greatest insights for better health, I try to keep focused on four basics summarized by Dr. Dean Ornish: nutrition, exercise, stress management, and a loving support network.
More And Less
To keep it simple, we would all make dramatic improvements in our health by focusing on five things we need more of and five things to minimize:
- More water, less liquid sugar. Since we are approximately 70% water, we need to be continually replenishing our bodies with good, clean water. If you’re like most, you’re probably not drinking enough water—it’s the number one cause of common headaches. Instead, too many are drinking soft drinks and energy drinks, which I call “liquid sugar.”
More plants, less animal. The biggest factor in good health is nutrition—what you eat and DON’T eat. Without quibbling about details, nobody can effectively argue with the general principle that we’d be healthier by eating more plant-based food than that which comes from animals.
More movement, less sitting. It’s been suggested than sitting is the new smoking. We need to move more. For those of us who spend the majority of our days sitting in a car or at a desk, statistically we have a much greater risk of heart disease and death from any cause.
More calm, less stress. Like our sedentary lifestyles, stress is a silent killer on the rise. Too many people today are overextended physically, emotionally, and financially in addition to being sleep-deprived. An occasional vacation isn’t the answer. We need a more sustainable pace on an ongoing basis and habits that help us manage daily stressors.
More community, less isolation. The family is the foundational unit of society and ideally the best support system. Unfortunately, many families are highly dysfunctional and fractured. We weren’t intended to live isolated. We need to invest in loving and mutually supportive relationships with family and friends.
Make good choices each day in your nutrition, exercise, stress management, and relationships.
5 Action Steps For Better Health
Here are five specific action steps to get more of the good and less of the not-so-good listed above:
- Measure out your intended water intake each day. A good rule of thumb is half your body weight in ounces; e.g., if you weigh 160 pounds, drink 80 ounces of water each day. If you apportion it out each day and develop a habit of sipping regularly each hour, you’ll be more conscious of drinking sufficiently.
Each meal, make sure you eat more vegetables, beans, whole grains, fruit, nuts, and seeds than meat and dairy.
Set a timer for 50 minutes to make sure you get up and move at least 10 minutes every hour throughout the day.
Start and end each day with 5-10 minutes of quiet meditation. Focus your thoughts on your breathing to settle down and consider things for which you are grateful.
Share at least one meal each day with family or friends with huge servings of great conversation and laughter.
There are plenty of things we can incorporate into our lifestyle to improve our health. But keep it simple and doable. Focus on actions like those above to make good choices each day in your nutrition, exercise, stress management, and relationships.
Question: What simple habits help you to dramatically improve your health? Share your answer in the comments below.