14 Feb

Ten Small Steps to Improve Your Health and Fitness

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There are many ways to improve your health and well being. Often even the smallest changes can have lasting benefits. Here are 10 small ideas you can use to begin to improve your health. They are divided into three major categories:

Nutrition

Drink plenty of water. Although, most physicians will tell you that drinking 8 glasses of water per day is not necessary to maintain optimal health. Still, your body needs water and it has many staying sufficiently hydrated has health benefits. The amount of water needed depends on the day’s heat and the amount of aerobic exercise attempted by the individual. Some medical conditions, such as a susceptibility to forming kidney stones in males, are reduced by an adequate water intake. Although flavored water and vitamin-enhanced water are available, there is nothing like plain old pure water. Water keeps you hydrated and has the added benefit of helping you feel full sooner during meals – meaning that you may eat less.

Maintain a balanced intake of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Most Americans eat too many simple carbohydrates at the expense of adequate protein. Carbohydrates are an important part of your diet, but eating the right carbohydrates is key. According to the National Institutes of Healthmost people should get between 40% and 60% of total calories from carbohydrates, preferably from complex carbohydrates (starches) and natural sugars. Complex carbohydrates provide calories, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Foods that are high in processed, refined simple sugars provide calories, but very little nutrition. It is wise to limit these sugars. So, in other words, eat more fruits and vegetables, whole-grain rice, breads and cereals, beans, lentils and dried peas. Eat/drink less processed sugar, candy, soda, white bread, etc.

Limit alcohol use. Some alcohol has been proven to have overall benefits to health. But, if you don’t drink, don’t start because of these findings, it’s not necessary. However, if you drink wine with the evening meal has been proven to have cardiovascular benefits. Moderation is key, as part of a healthy diet, the daily intake should be limited to the equivalent of one glass of wine.

 

Exercise

Walk whenever possible, don’t ride. Don’t park near the door; walk across the parking lot. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Use the rest room or copier at the far end of the building. Each step taken is a step towards better health.

Do minor weight training. Have a pair of light hand weights at your desk and by the television. Use them while relaxing at home or when on the telephone in the office.

Stretch. Working long hours in the same position can cause muscle stress and stiffness. If you can, take a yoga class, you will be surprised at how much better you feel – less stressed and more flexible. Since lack of flexibility is prevalent in men and increases with age in both men and women, this is an especially important tip.

Relax

Take breaks from work. Working through lunch or through an earned break is self-defeating. When an employee returns from a break, he will tackle his challenges with renewed vigor.

Smile. When genuine it helps reduce stress and besides, it’s just more pleasant than frowning and complaining.

Decorate your workspace, if permitted. A photograph of the family or an inspiring scenic picture can be a potent source of relaxation.

Keep everything in perspective. Good days will follow the bad days. Every cloud has a silver lining. Often your attitude is what makes the difference. Remember, a glass that is half empty is also half full.

Donna is a former aerobics instructor and lifetime fitness advocate and trainer. Visit her on the web at http://myfitnessplan.net

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