07 Oct Lifestyle Medicine: lifestyle habits to improve your health
Lifestyle medicine is the study of what lifestyle habits can be used to change your health. It’s not just about diet and exercise. It also includes stress management and sleep, as well as social connection. In recent years, people have become more health-conscious. Taking lifestyle medicine into consideration when making decisions around their lifestyle choices. Whether that means a decision about their work schedule or what they eat for dinner.
As lifestyle is the choices people make, lifestyle medicine is really useful because lifestyle habits can be changed.
You can set yourself up for good long-term health by following the five main lifestyle habits. These are exercise, diet, stress management, sleep and social connection.
We all want to live a long life without being too stressed out or getting sick from our lifestyle choices. The best way to do this? By understanding how lifestyle medicine can help you find balance in your daily routine. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time off by using lifestyle medicine wisely!
Want to improve longevity through lifestyle medicine? – exercise regularly
Exercise is a lifestyle medicine that can be used to change your health and lifestyle habits. It helps you burn calories, stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle.
Exercise is also an important lifestyle medicine because it both causes the release of good hormones in your body and helps you lose weight if you are overweight. Regular exercise can help with sleep, stress reduction and blood pressure regulation. Exercise also has long term benefits such as helping to prevent heart disease and arthritis.
If you aren’t an exerciser or you’re just getting started, it’s important to set small, realistic goals that will help motivate you along the way. If the idea of going to a gym is intimidating, for example, start by walking around your neighbourhood. And working up to more intense workouts over time.
If exercise has always been a part of your life and you’re looking to mix up your routine, try adding some variety. This is especially important if you use the same exercises every time as it can lead to muscle memory and boredom. You can switch up your workout with high-intensity interval training, yoga or even sports like tennis which provide both an exercise and social aspect.
Stay active during the day
It is important to stay as active as possible throughout the day.
There are many ways you can do this from going for a walk at lunch or playing sports after work to taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
Whether it’s through physical exercise, being more active around your house or finding fun ways to get outside, staying active can help reduce stress and increase your happiness.
You might also want to try breaking up your day with 10 minutes of activity by taking walks throughout the office or parking a little further away from work so that you have to walk a few extra steps each day.
Now that we know how exercise can contribute to our health, it’s time to take action! Get up and get moving! Your body will be thanking you for it!
Do you know what they say? ‘Move it, or lose it!’
Eat a well balanced plant-based diet for improvements in lifestyle medicine
Good nutrition is one of the most important lifestyle habits you can develop. Making sure you’re eating the right kinds of foods will give your body all the nutrients it needs to function properly. And will help reduce your risk for illness, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
A proper diet should consist mostly of fruits, vegetables and whole grains which provide the body with antioxidants as well as fibre.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to eating a healthier diet, try upping your intake of fruits and vegetables, while decreasing refined sugars and carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread. Make sure you also add healthy fats like olive oil, avocado and nuts to give you energy throughout the day.
If you’re looking for more variety, try different cuisines like Greek, Thai or Indian which often include many plant-based ingredients.
Reduce saturated fat
Eating a well-balanced plant-based diet also includes decreasing saturated fat intake. Decreasing saturated fat intake decreases LDL cholesterol levels which is good. Because high LDL cholesterol levels increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. Other foods that increase LDL cholesterol levels include dietary cholesterol and saturated fat.
Decreasing dietary cholesterol intake decreases the risk of coronary heart disease. This is a major cause of death in North America. Dietary cholesterol can be found in some dairy products like cheese, butter and yogurt, as well as chocolate and egg yolks.
Decreasing saturated fat intake decreases high blood pressure. This is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Other foods that increase high blood pressure include snacks like cakes, candy bars and cookies.
Increase intake of foods shown to be associated with longevity
Eat a well-balanced plant-based diet also includes increasing intake of certain foods that decrease the risk of cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund states there are many foods that can be used to decrease the risk of certain lifestyle diseases including all forms of cancer, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Some examples of foods that can be used to lower the risk of developing all forms of cancer include flaxseeds, soybeans and whole grains.
Examples of foods that can be used to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease include plant proteins, fibre and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables.
Some examples of foods that can be used to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes include beans, lean meats, nuts and whole grains.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress is an inevitable part of life but too much can lead to serious psychological issues such as depression and anxiety.
This is one of the most important lifestyle medicine habits because it can affect nearly every aspect of your life and your mental health.
Reducing stress can be as easy as taking some time out during the day to meditate or relax by yourself. You can also try using techniques such as deep breathing, yoga or exercise to help manage your stress.
In addition, you can reduce your exposure to stress by making sure that work doesn’t take over your personal life by setting limits with coworkers and prioritizing family time.
Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature is a great way to relax both mentally and physically.
Not only can it help recharge your batteries but it can also improve your mood, lower your stress levels and reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Try finding a park or another green space near you where you can go to take a walk first thing in the morning or after work. This will help clear out your mind and set you up for success throughout the rest of the day.
If you’re not a fan of going outside, try getting your nature fix through gardening or even just being more observant in the space around you.
Try adding some potted plants to your living room. Or spending time observing the wildlife in your backyard so that when stress does hit, you have an easy way to take a few minutes to de-stress.
Get enough sleep
Another one of the most important habits for your health is getting enough sleep which can vary greatly depending on the individual, but in general, is between 7 and 9 hours each night.
Getting a good night’s rest is probably the most commonly known lifestyle medicine. Sleep helps you recharge and rejuvenate your body from the day, helping you feel refreshed in the morning.
Lack of sleep can lead to many problems including weight gain, an increased risk for depression, impaired cognitive function, high blood pressure and chronic pain.
Sleep is especially important for the immune system which recovers while you’re asleep, so if you’re sick or run-down, try to get some extra sleep to give your body the rest it needs.
If you need help getting to bed at a reasonable hour, try avoiding caffeine close to bedtime, turning off your screens a few hours before you plan to go to sleep and practising a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a bath or reading.
Keep in touch with friends and family is one of the best forms of lifestyle medicine
Making time for connecting with others is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle whether that means going out regularly or just catching up over the phone in the car on your way to work.
Social isolation can be very harmful and leave you feeling lonely, isolated and depressed.
These feelings often lead people to neglect their own health needs which are important for long term success.
When it comes to connecting with friends and family, try using modern technology like social media apps or video chat to keep in touch with those who live far away.
You can also ask friends and family over for dinner or make time to meet up with them at a convenient location.
The quality of your connections matters too. Try to be a careful and empathetic listener, as it will deepen your connection with your friends and family and lead to more health benefits.
There are so many organisations that are springing up to address the problem of loneliness in society. It has become known as a modern epidemic!
If you struggle to reach out, you might benefit from the help of a mental health professional, who will help you to build strategies around connecting with others. One goal can be to reach out to one person every day. 365 connections a year will add up to good health pretty quickly!
To keep yourself healthy, focus on lifestyle habits that work for you. We’ve provided a few tips to help get started with lifestyle medicine in this article – from diet and exercise to stress management, sleep and social connection. The most important thing is to find the lifestyle regimen that works best for your needs- whether it’s through physical activity or practising self-care by taking better time out of your day each week.
Which one of these lifestyle habits has helped transform your health?