Improve Health and Fitness with 10 Simple Steps
Committing to a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, getting started is easier than you might think. By making more conscious food choices and getting regular exercise, even as little as walking after dinner, you can start out on the path toward a healthier, fitter self. Here are ten tips to make the first steps even easier.
#1 – Breakfast is Still the Most Important Meal of the Day.
After digesting last night’s dinner, you need food to get the new day started. Breakfast gives you the energy to concentrate at work or school, and may keep you from snacking throughout the morning. Easy and nutritious breakfasts include granola with yogurt and fruit, or whole grain toast with scrambled eggs.
#2 - Get physical!
You don’t need a gym membership to make physical fitness a part of your daily life.You can walk or bike to work, or always take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. At work, use a standing desk instead of sitting. At home, you can even do push-ups or crunches during commercial breaks. Take a few minutes out of every day to keep moving, and your health will thank you in the long run.
#3 - Not all snacks are created equal.
Small snacks are a great way to refuel during the day. The extra bit of energy can help your concentration and productivity. Keep your snack sizes small, and choose items from different food groups. For example, you could try apples with peanut butter or trail mix with a glass of skim milk.
#4 – Get sweaty!
When you do work out, make it count. Check in with your doctor, then get your heart pumping and get sweaty. Be sure to start by warming up and stretching to reduce the risk of injury. Your warm-ups should include aerobic activities like jogging or jumping rope. The next phase of your workout should be something to increase strength, whether that’s lifting weights or whole-body exercises like yoga or pilates.
#5 – Balance your food choices.
You don’t have to give up all the foods you may like. You can still eat foods like hamburgers, pizza or sweets. You just need to be smart about how often and how many of those foods you eat. Make sure to keep your diet balanced against the nutritional needs of your body. When you’re grocery shopping, be sure to read the Nutrition Facts Panel on food labels to be certain you’re getting your recommended daily allowance of nutrients like protein, carbohydrates, fat and essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and A, iron and calcium.
#6 – Join with friends or family.
Fitness likes company. Invite friends and family to join you in your exercise. You can plan weekly bike rides or regular jogging routes. Exercising with your kids is a good way to teach them the valuable lessons of a fitness lifestyle.
More than other food groups, these foods give you the nutrients and vitamins you need for more energy. Stick to breads that are whole-wheat or high in fiber. Try to round out every meal with a piece of fruit, such as an apple or banana. Try raw vegetables as a snack, or put them on a salad or sandwich.
#8 - Join in physical activities whenever you can.
At work or school, structured activities or sports are a surefire way to make fitness fun. Ask your workplace if they sponsor athletic teams or a recreational league. Organized sports are also a good place to make friends with people you might not otherwise get to know.
#9 – Rethink your relationship to food.
It’s important to remember that foods are either “good” or “bad.” They all have a part to play. After all, what’s a birthday party without cake? Developing a healthy relationship to food is about understanding that different foods are rich in some things or lacking in others. That’s why a balanced diet is so vital to staying healthy. It’s also about moderation. There’s nothing wrong with pizza for dinner occasionally, especially if you remember to stop eating when you’re full.
#10 - Keep fitness fun!
You’re more likely to keep up with exercise if it’s an activity you already enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try new sports, games and other activities as well as new foods.