No one wants to experience declining health as they age. At the same time, many of us treat our health like an afterthought — a thing we'll deal with as problems arise, but not something we worry about in the day-to-day. However, it's exactly that approach that leads to chronic health problems by the time you reach middle age. If you want to enjoy better health for longer, it's time to make some changes. Here are six ways to get started.
Control Your Breath
Odds are, you don't spend a lot of time thinking about your breathing. But maybe you should. Your breath is a powerful tool for reducing stress, improving circulation, and even boosting your immune system, Washington Square Journal reports. Aim to breathe slowly through your nose, expanding your abdomen with each breath and exhaling at a slower rate than you inhale. It's tough to unlearn habits, especially when they're as subconscious as breathing, so consider taking a meditation or yoga class to learn better breath control.
Go to Bed Earlier
Are you sleeping enough? If you're like many Americans, the answer is probably a no. However, your sleeping habits affect more than your energy levels. When you don't get enough sleep, you increase your risk of a wide range of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and even Alzheimer's disease. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, so head to bed at least eight to nine hours before you have to wake up.
Measure Your Food
According to MyFitnessPal, most people underestimate their calorie intake. If you can't seem to lose weight no matter what you try, start measuring your food to determine the exact calorie content of your meals. Measuring can be done with tools you already have around the kitchen, like measuring cups and a digital scale. When you start tracking your food, odds are that you'll discover a lot of calories you weren't accounting for! Once you understand what you're actually eating, you'll find it's a lot easier to execute proper portion control and finally reduce your calorie consumption.
Eat Your Colors
Many of us don't eat as much fruits and vegetables as we should. And when we do, we tend to stick to a handful of favorites and shy away from unfamiliar produce. However, monotonous eating habits increase the risk that you're missing important nutrients in your diet. To get more beneficial nutrients including antioxidants and phytochemicals, aim to include a wide variety of colors in your produce choices. From deep purple blueberries to bright orange winter squash, there's a rainbow out there just waiting to make it to your plate.
Watch Your Posture
Modern life has us sitting in front of computers for large portions of the day. If you don't practice good posture at your desk, you could develop severe back problems. In addition to buying an ergonomic office chair and getting up to move every 20 minutes during the workday, make sure you're practicing good posture at your desk. Ergonomics.com explains exactly what proper desk posture looks like.
Do your muscles constantly feel tight, even when you haven't worked out? Muscle tension can be a sign of stress and anxiety. If it's not addressed, that tension could grow into persistent, debilitating pain. Bodywork like massage and myofascial release provide immediate, short-term relief from tension and pain. For long-lasting relief, it's important to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety in your life.
If you're reading this, it's time to stop putting better health off until later. It's much easier to maintain good health than to fix poor health, and it doesn't have to mean completely overhauling your lifestyle. Through a series of small, intentional habits like these, you can build a strong body and mind for life.
Rebecca L.Neil HHP. LMT.