As we enter the holiday season, it’s easy to come up with reasons to put off thinking about your health.
The hustle and bustle might be distracting, but focusing on how you can improve your health is the best gift you can give yourself—at Christmas or any other time of the year.
Today is a perfect day to start. No need to make a big plan or delay until the time feels right. Even if you are juggling a lot with work or family commitments right now, there are changes that you can make which will add up over time and make a difference in your health, fitness, and how you feel.
Go easy on yourself and remember that, no matter your age, there are always little changes you can make to feel stronger, support your heart, get better sleep, and even grow your endurance.
Keep reading for some specific examples of tiny steps you can take to improve your health.
Slowly switch out high-fat foods with healthier choices
Eating the “right” foods is easier said than done. If you aren’t used to getting in many fruits and vegetables in your meals, start small.
Here are some ideas on ways you can get more healthy foods into the foods you already eat:
- Slip some sauteed red peppers into your next omelet
- Add some spinach into your next soup
- Swap half your normal pasta with zucchini
- Use applesauce for some of the oil in the next batch of muffins you bake
Add more physical exercise to your daily routine
You don’t have to spend hours in the gym to see gains in your health. According to American Medical Association researchers, adding in as little as 15 minutes of exercise a day (even in the form of walking two miles per hour) can improve your heart health and overall fitness, especially if you are currently overweight or sedentary.
Getting started can be the toughest thing for many people, so if you’re looking to make a long-term change, look for small incentives to help you stick to your new exercise habit.
Set small goals then treat yourself for sticking with this new habit. Gift yourself something small that you want, like a paperback thriller from your favorite author or a download of that new movie release from a director you love.
Start with easy exercise you enjoy doing
Look for ways to make exercising fun and something you look forward to doing. Some people stay motivated by bringing a friend along with them on their fitness journey. For example, if you normally meet up with a good friend for a weekly catch-up session, see if she’ll switch your standing coffee date to a walk together at the local park instead.
Making changes, like parking further away from the door in the parking lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, are other effective ways to add in short bursts of physical activity to your day.
Set realistic goals
To avoid injury, start any new exercise program slowly as your endurance and strength build up.
If you feel a little soreness, that can be normal when adopting a new fitness routine, especially if it’s been a while since you’ve done any significant exercise. But, don’t ignore intense pain or injuries—especially those affecting your joints, bones, or tendons. In some cases, this pain may be your body’s way of telling you that you’re hurt and need to see an orthopedic doctor for specialized care.
If paying attention to how your body feels before, during, and after exercise is new to you, consider getting a journal. Use it to take notes on which activities invigorate and make you feel strong.
Track your stamina during workouts and write down anything that causes your body to ache, throb, or tingle. These insights will help you detect patterns and give you a more accurate baseline for what feels normal and what feels like something just isn’t right.
Find ways to practice mindfulness
When some people are anxious, they put thinking about their health on the back burner, but it can be helpful to keep focusing on your body when feeling overwhelmed as a way to minimize the physical impacts of stress.
If you decide to start a brand new at-home or gym exercise program, “listen to your body”—especially after you’ve decided to increase your regular physical activity.
Keep track of how you are doing
It won’t take long after you make healthy changes to your meals and how much physical activity you are getting to start to see some noticeable improvements in your sleep and mood.
Using tape measures, scales, fitness trackers, and other devices to keep an eye on your weekly progress can motivate you to stick with your changes. Pick devices that can measure factors you’re the most interested in monitoring.
Some things you might track include:
- muscle mass
- resting heart rate
- hours of sleep
- body fat percentage
- heart rate variability
- bone mass
Think about your health goals to choose the tools that are the best match for helping you reach—and maintain—your goals.
Get expert advice on improving your health
You can do it! You don’t have to wait until you feel like something might be wrong to work on improving your health. If you want some support with getting started, make an appointment to see your primary care provider to ask questions, get personalized guidance, and learn more about healthy changes you can make that fit within your lifestyle.
The physicians and specialists at Logansport Memorial Hospital are experienced in helping people in our community build better health. When you are ready to get started, we are here for you.