When it comes to health and wellness it often feels like experts berate us for all the things we shouldn’t do. Yet, they neglect to give us specific ways to improve our quality of life. “Eat healthier!“— a vague blanket term — there are several opinions on ways to eat healthier, where to begin? “Exercise!“—yes, exercise is great — but how often, how long, and what type of exercise? This onslaught of advice frequently produces feelings of frustration and hopelessness. Fortunately, decades of research have now determined definitive habits and choices healthy people routinely adhere to.
- Sleep, Baby, Sleep!
Don’t underestimate sleep’s powerful influence! Quality sleep significantly impacts overall well-being and health:
Weight — sleep affects hormones that influence weight and regulate appetite.
Mental acuity — adequate sleep is proven to enhance concentration, memory, problem-solving, and productivity; lack of sleep can cause deficits in all of these areas, negatively affecting work, recreation, and relationships.
Mental health — a cumulative review of 205 reports concluded that approximately 90% of people suffering from depression complained of poor sleep.
Inflammation — inadequate sleep is linked to an increase in the body’s inflammatory response.
Seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended, however, sleep needs vary from person to person, listen to your body.
- Plan your meals!
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Consider meal planning as the first basic and essential step to “eating healthy”. Regardless of the diet you adhere to, planning your meals ensures healthy food will make it to your table (or at least to your mouth). Meal planning prevents poor choices out of desperation. A bit of planning up front saves time in the end. Planning gives you the opportunity to fulfill a crucial requirement of clean eating — reviewing ingredients (please see our blog: Read What You Eat). Don’t forget to include our wide variety of clean and delicious products on your menu!
- 3.5 Hours of Exercise per week
This is good news for those of us with limited time — 3.5 hours per week breaks down to a half-hour per day. You also don’t need to run a five-minute mile for an activity to qualify as substantial exercise. Moderate exercise is absolutely acceptable. Fast-paced walking, swimming, yard work and even washing your car are considered moderate exercise. A study assessing the impact of healthy lifestyle factors on the life expectancy of 78,000 people over a 30 year period found that 3.5 hours of exercise per week, in addition to moderate alcohol intake, not smoking, quality diet and a healthy BMI increased life span.
- Hold onto your healthy relationships
Hoping to uncover the predictors that promote lifelong health and happiness, Harvard researchers in 1938 began following 268 sophomores over an 80 year period. The study is one of the longest adult studies conducted worldwide. Researchers found resoundingly that the predominant key determinant for longevity and happiness is close and loving relationships. Close relationships help navigate, insulate, and lessen life’s stressors, improving health and well being.
Remember, important work takes time, and what is more important than your health? Incrementally implement and nourish these lifestyle choices, whether you choose one or all. Please let us know what’s working-we’d love to hear from you!