Below are some achievable interventions which, when followed consistently, will markedly improve your overall health and chances of longevity.
1. Get moving
Scientifically, it’s shown that 30 minutes a day of brisk walking for 5 days per week is highly beneficial to one’s health. While 150 minutes per week is the optimal amount of time to dedicate to walking, however, any amount of walking is better than none. As an alternative to walking there is jogging, swimming, hiking, dancing, and gym workouts.
Some of the benefits of the aforementioned modalities of exercise include improved:
● Heart health
● Energy levels
● Mood and memory
● Muscle and bone strength
● Blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol numbers
● Weight control
Stretching improves and maintains muscle flexibility, strength, and joint mobility, ultimately reducing the chance of injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.
The muscles that benefit most from stretching are those in the lower limbs – i.e. hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and hip flexors. The stretching of the muscles of the lower back, neck, and shoulders is also recommended.
Stretches should be done for about 5 minutes a minimum of 4 to 5 times a week, shortly after getting up in the morning. Besides the musculoskeletal benefits, stretching helps to create a relaxed frame of mind.
2. Nature needs to become second nature
Here in Vincy, we are surrounded by wondrous nature. The beaches, sea, rivers, mountains, lush vegetation, and more. Spending 15 minutes a day connecting with nature – e.g. at the beach, is shown to significantly improve your blood pressure, mood, reduce tension and anger, and helps with clarity of thought, while significantly lowering your stress hormones. Alternatively, we can bring nature to our home by way of house plants or having a kitchen/ flower garden.
3. Resist sitting for extended periods
Between driving, work, watching TV, etc. we sit for 8-16 hours daily. Protracted sitting is linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, weight gain, mood disorders, and certain cancers.
Taking a 2-3-minute break from sitting every 30 to 60 minutes significantly reduces the health complications from sitting. During that break walk, stretch, or squat.
Other things that can be done to counter the ill effects of sitting: Conduct most phone calls while standing. Take the stairs as opposed to the elevator. For distances that can be walked, walk as opposed to drive. Reduce your TV/ computer time.
4. Make sure and get your zzzzz
Adults should sleep 7 to 9 hours at night. For those over 65, 7 to 8 hours is adequate.
Chronic sleep deprivation can result in cancers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, weight gain, depression, reduced sex drive, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, change of appearance, and impaired immunity.
5. Beware of foods that will make you sick
Cut back on the consumption of factory-manufactured and animal-based products.
Eat more plant-based, fresh, and locally grown foods. When consuming meats, stick primarily to fish and poultry (without the skin). Eat more ground provisions (e.g. yam, tania, eddoes, sweet potato, dasheen, cassava). Consume lots of lentils, vegetables, and fruit. If you feel like snacking have a vegetable or fruit instead of a cookie/biscuit.
If you buy lunch stick to a source that prepares healthy meals. Carry to work home-cooked nutritious meals whenever possible. Drink lots of water. Reduce your intake of foods that are processed, fried, high in sugar & fat/ cholesterol, and simple carbohydrates (e.g. made from wheat flour, white rice). Cut out sugary drinks (e.g. commercial juices, malts and sweet drinks). Avoid fast foods. Cut back on your salt intake. Cut back on alcohol.
6. Allow only uplifting family and friends into your circle
Quality relationships/ friendships help us to live happier and longer lives. Toxic relationships have the opposite effect and should be avoided at all costs. If you have few family and friends, service clubs, sporting clubs, religious organizations, etc facilitate camaraderie with others.
7. Throw away the cigarettes and avoid places where cigarette smoking is allowed
Tobacco kills up to 50% of its users. There is no safe level of second hand smoke, even short-term exposure increases the risk of heart attacks.
Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale.
For appointments: [email protected], 1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)
Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.