Many of us tend not to worry about high blood pressure or cholesterol until we are sitting in front of the doctor getting our results. As healthcare professionals, we often repeat the same line ‘prevention is better than cure’. So what can we do to ensure we maintain a healthy lifestyle and still enjoy a few guilty pleasures? We have put together a few expert tips that we feel will help you not only get started but keep these lifestyle changes.
Increase your water intake and reduce your caffeine intake. I’m sure this isn’t new to any of us, it is recommended that adults drink between 6 to 8 glasses of water per day as a minimum. So why do we find this so hard? Perhaps because caffeine and juice taste so much better! Most of us believe that our caffeine fix in the morning sets us up for the day, however many studies show that the long-term effects of caffeine often include increased anxiety and blood pressure. Swapping just one or two cups of coffee for water will help us feel better overall. It is also important for us to encourage our elderly relatives and children to increase their water intake. This can prove difficult but offering frequent sips throughout the day can really make a difference. Top tip: Label your water bottle!
Stop dieting and enjoy a balanced diet. Having a balanced diet does not have to be dull. Portion control and ensuring that the right food is on your plate is very important. Including proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruits, fibres and the right fats will help you in achieving this and doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the occasional slice of chocolate cake! Part of feeling good is a direct result of your diet, too many processed foods can make you feel lethargic. Top tip: Meal planning at the start of the week will help ensure you are getting your 5 fruits and vegetables per day and is a great way to maintain a healthy diet. This will also help you in organising your meals so that you don’t get bored.
Doing some form of exercise on a regular basis not only helps you in maintaining your weight but it can also reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as help lift your mood. Exercise stimulates various chemicals in your brain that can make you feel more relaxed. Just 30 minutes of exercise such as a brisk walk around the park will get you started. Top tip: Take the stairs instead of the lift or elevator. If you live on the 50th floor, we don’t recommend you try this but you can go up the first 5 floors and then take the elevator.
Increase your vitamin D intake. Being in this area of the world you may think well that’s easy which in theory it is. However, vitamin D deficiency is a common health issue in the UAE. It is recommended that exposing your skin to direct sunlight for just 10 minutes per day without protection can help you absorb up to 10,000 units of natural vitamin D. Exposing yourself to sunlight also helps your brain produce more serotonin which lifts your mood and therefore makes you happy. Top tip: Sit and eat breakfast outside or take 10 minutes out of your lunch break to enjoy a short walk in the sunshine.
Relax. This sounds odd after encouraging you to get started with a healthy diet and exercise but it is also important to take the time to relax. Many of us get lost in our busy work schedules and forget that our bodies need time to recover and rest. Top tip: Take that long bath or do something you enjoy for 30 minutes each day. Take time out for yourself.
Remember, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also about maintaining a happy one. Make changes that you enjoy and don’t completely deprive yourself of those guilty pleasures, just limit them.