Eight steps to a healthier lifestyle

Don’t underestimate the power of habit. Getting fit and healthy doesn’t have to involve drastic changes. Instead, focus on micro goals that you can build into your daily routine. How you spend your days is how you will spend your life.

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Meat-free Mondays

Wherever possible, swap meat for plant-based foods. This includes the obvious fruit and vegetables but also nuts, tofu, seeds and grains. Even one swap a day could reduce your risk of premature death by 19 per cent! See http://www.consumerreports.org/health-wellness/simple-steps-to-a-healthier-lifestyle/ for the statistics.

Get active

According to a Finnish study, pensioners who started doing just four hours of gentle exercise a week, including gardening, reduced their risk of an adverse cardiac event by as much as 30 per cent.

Potter around

People who spend too much time sitting are at an increased risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Spending most of your time moving about and on your feet is better for your health than hours spent behind a screen followed by one hour pounding the pavement or busting it in the gym.

Prioritise sleep

Sleep is the cornerstone of good immune function and sanity. When we are sleep-deprived, our bodies secrete stress hormones like cortisol that increase our chances of stroke and heart disease. Seven to eight hours is optimal. When you are exhausted, you are also more likely to eat unhealthy sugary foods and binge on caffeine. Stick to gluten free snacks like the ones listed at http://gofitnesslifestyle.com/what-are-the-best-gluten-free-snacks-for-health/.

Quit bad habits

Do whatever it takes to quit smoking and excessive drinking. Only one year after quitting, your added risk of heart disease will be half that of when you were still smoking. After 15 years, you will be at no greater risk than a non-smoker. Research shows that people who don’t drink live the longest.

Chill

Use massage, yoga, CBT and even hypnosis to manage stress. When our bodies and minds are stressed, we produce too much cortisol and adrenaline, which contribute to high blood pressure and its associated risks.

Breathe easy

Exposure to air pollution wreaks havoc on your health, raising cholesterol and damaging blood vessels. Use HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners, and consider investing in an air purifier. Avoid all chemicals and pollutants.

Slim down

Even a 5% reduction in body fat dramatically reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease.