By David Buice
Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, wrote, “If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness.”
As a new year approaches with the usual number of resolutions, many based on a desire for better health, a health self-assessment might well be in order. Here are three fundamental questions to ask yourself if you’re ready for a healthier and more fulfilling life in the coming year.
Am I eating a healthy diet? In our fast-paced age, most Americans are consuming far too much food that’s not good for us – burgers and fries, pizza, sugar-laden sodas, and highly caffeinated drinks. We could be much healthier if we slowed down a bit, taking the time to prepare our meals with large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats. Beyond better health, a side-effect is that you’ll probably save money as the cost of fast food adds up quickly.
Am I getting enough exercise? For many of us, the answer is a resounding “No.” Most exercise experts recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week for good health. And the activity doesn’t all have to be done at one time. It can be broken up into 10 to 15-minute segments, or even less. It helps to take frequent breaks from the computer screen and move around for a minute or two. Every step and every minute of movement contributes to better health.
Am I taking time to relax? Many of us believe if we’re not doing something “productive,” we’re wasting time, and that conviction makes it difficult to relax. In reality, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to slow down and take time each day to relax. Listen to your favorite music or settle in for a while with that novel you’ve always wanted to read and give your mind and body time to rest and restore themselves.
Once you’ve answered these questions, set one realistic goal, and work to achieve it. When that’s accomplished, move on to another and then another in pursuit of a healthier, happier life in 2021.
Take a walk
Tips to spicing up your steps to good health
Walking is one of the simplest ways to promote better health. Putting one foot in front of the other produces a multitude of health benefits. These include lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol, controlling blood sugar, and reducing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Regular brisk walking also burns calories and helps boost your mood.
The only problem is that for many of us, walking can be very boring. But it doesn’t
have to be. Health and fitness experts at Harvard Medical School offer a number of
ways to spice up your walking regimen and increase the likelihood you’ll stick with your routine and lower your risk of suffering a debilitating disease.
Interval walking – Rather than always walking at the same pace, pick up your pace for 30 to 60 seconds, and then return to your normal pace for twice that time to recover.
Strength-training walking – A couple of times a week, take a resistance band on your walk and work your chest, arm, and shoulder muscles by stretching the band over your head or in front of you as you walk.
Nordic walking – Using Nordic poles (available online) as you walk adds upper-body exercise, engaging twice the muscles and increasing the calories burned.
Meditative walking – The repetitive nature of walking makes it a natural activity for meditation or self-reflection. The combination of walking and breathing creates a rhythm that helps quiet the mind. Take four steps as you inhale and four as you exhale. Lengthen the count as your mind and body relax.
Safety precautions: Always check with your physician before starting an exercise program, and when walking, watch out for uneven sidewalks and irregular terrain that might trip you up.