I remember when my mother died at the age of 35years, it was the most heart ripping and soul tearing experience of my life…I was only 10 years old. I heard the doctor saying to my father, “The heart disease eventually killed her”. On hearing the news, the tears flowed…I couldn’t breathe… I fell to the ground but there was nobody there to pick me up. The one person who could have was eight feet away from me lying dead on the bed…This was the most helpless moment of my life…not because she wasn’t around to console me but because I couldn’t do anything to save her…I thought to myself… SHE COULD HAVE SAVED HER LIFE” if she was able to strike a balance between focusing on her health and performing her many roles as a daughter, wife, mother and career professional.
This is Steve’s story and like Steve’s mother, many people put everything and everyone else before their health and have poor lifestyles. By doing so, they are affected by lifestyle diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart disease, stroke; obesity, type 2 diabetes; diseases associated with smoking , excessive alcohol intake and drug abuse. These diseases can cause premature mortality if not properly managed.
Lifestyle” is the term used for the collection of one’s daily habits: Dietary/feeding habits, physical habits, stress management habits and sleeping habits. According to a major Lancet study in 2016, bad diets and unhealthy lifestyles have become the biggest threat to life expectancy, fuelling seven in ten deaths in the world. The American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, and the American Diabetes Association all suggest that imbibing good lifestyle changes may be responsible for more than a 60 percent reduction in chronic diseases. Hence, the good news is that you can practice pro- health habits to gain short term and long term health benefits such as reducing your risk of disease and increasing your lifespan.
Some pro-health habits you can imbibe in your lifestyle include healthy physical habits, healthy dietary habits, healthy environmental habits and healthy medical habits. These habits are briefly explained below;
Healthy Physical habits
- Regular Exercising: Exercise impacts many aspects of our health positively including cardiovascular health, mental health, weight management, improving blood sugar control, and helping us feel our best. According to medical research, in the latter half of your 30s, you start losing muscle mass, so it’s especially important to exercise at this time. But remember to choose physical activities you really love, because you will not be committed to exercising if you dislike your workouts. It could be walking, cycling, running, weightlifting, hiking, swimming — as long as it involves some movement.
- Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle is defined by an excessive amount of daily sitting. Be it to watch television, work the computer, or even read. Its negative health influences include increased anxiety, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and more. Marc Hamilton is a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As he told Men’s Health, a man who sits 60 hours at a desk job but still works out for 45 minutes a day five times a week still has a sedentary lifestyle.
- Improve Your Posture: Good posture improves your breathing, makes you look smarter and more attractive. Read more: Benefits Of a Good Posture (And 13 Tips To Get One)
Healthy Sleeping Habits
- Getting enough sleep can sometimes be difficult because of our fast-paced lives. Poor sleep is closely tied to mood, overall energy, and productivity. Keep a regular sleep schedule as best you can. Try to avoid screens (TV, computer, phone) at least one hour (if not more!) before bed.
Healthy Dietary Habits
- Drink More Water: Water is essential for our bodies to function. Do you know over 60% of our body is made up of water? Water is needed to carry out body functions, remove waste, and carry nutrients and oxygen around our body. Since we lose water daily through urine, bowel movements, perspiration, and breathing, we need to replenish our water intake. Drinking water also helps in losing weight.
- Eat Fruits, Vegetables and Fermentable Fibres.Fruits have a load of vitamins and minerals and eating them is important to health. It is also important to consume a variety of different vegetables for a large diversity of vitamins and good gut bacteria, which improve your immune system. In order for the good bacteria to flourish, fermentable fiber is necessary as food for the good gut bacteria.
- Don’t Drink Alcohol. Like caffeine, alcohol is a diuretic. Medical research has repeatedly proven to have negativeeffects on the brain, liver, lungs, and other major organs. If you drink alcohol regularly, it’s time to cut it out, or at the very least, reduce your consumption.
- Stop Smoking. Medical research has proven that smoking severely increases the risk of lung cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer (of our gullet), heart attack, and more. Smoking “lite” cigarettes do not decrease health risks either. If you’re a smoker, quit not just for yourself, but for your family and friends. If you don’t smoke, stay that way and don’t start. Read: What Happens When You Quit Smoking [Infographic]
- Prepare your meals. Whenever I can, I try to prepare my meals. When you prepare your meals, you control what goes into them, rather than choosing between sub-optimal choices in a restaurant.
Healthy Social Habits
- Cultivate relationships:Friends, family, and other social connections are important to your health. Volunteer, join community activities, take classes, or find other ways to involve yourself socially.
Healthy Emotional Habits
Poor emotions can weaken your body’s immune system. This makes you more likely to get colds and other infections during emotionally difficult times. It is important to calm your mind and body with Relaxation methods, such as meditation, listening to music, listening to guided imagery CDs or mp3s, yoga, and Tai Chi. These are useful ways to bring your emotions into balance. Free guided imagery videos are also available on YouTube.
Healthy Medical Habits
Regular visits to your healthcare provider are important despite being ill or not. It is important to undergo routine medical checkups to make prevention of likely diseases and to make diagnosis and treatment of budding disesase conditions easy and early enough.
Healthy Financial Habits
Your financial profile is connected to your health in the long term. When you have your finances under control, you can keep you and your family out of debt, and avoid conditions like heart attacks or hypertension. Hence it is important to avoid debt or maintain a low debt profile, make wise purchases, and invest in rewarding insurance plans for your property, family, life and health.
It is important to be consistent with pro-health habits, track your progress and seek professional support to enhance your commitment to health if you are not making enough progress. Always remember that you can save your life by living a healthy lifestyle.
Read more on how to improve your lifestyle through this link:
Tobi Akerele contributed this article.
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