Living a healthy life sounds so easy, yet we often fail miserably. We do not have healthy habits and often don’t realise that small things can have a significant impact on our health.
If one just observes patients’ sleep routines, it is evident that bad habits are common. This important aspect of a person’s health is often understated. Sleep hygiene is crucial to ensure a good night’s rest and health in general.
Many people are complaining about insomnia and revert to medication rather than paying attention to sleep hygiene first. Sleep hygiene will include simple measures like going to bed at roughly the same time every night, not mixing activities in the bedroom (TV, gaming) with sleeping, reducing/eliminating time on devices at least an hour before bedtime, not drinking caffeine-containing or sugary drinks late at night to name a few.
It is not only children that can benefit from these measures, but adults can too. A good night’s sleep can reduce stress, result in important hormones being released that influence our appetite and therefore control our weight.
We cannot talk about a healthy life without referring to diet. Diet is complex and one must take several aspects into account to have long term success in diet choice.
There are many fads coming and going, the simple question would be “Can I maintain this regime indefinitely?”, if there is any hesitation, don’t consider it. It is important to cater for your dietary requirements (religion, allergies, budget) but the main point to remember, if you take in too many calories (of whatever source), you will gain weight over time.
To exclude any food group is not wise, there is no substitute for a balanced diet including all food groups. Portion control is still the most successful diet tip, you can eat whatever you like if you eat little enough of it. This seems to be the French women’s secret as well as the Japanese who believe you should eat until you feel 80% full.
Exercise is an integral part of a healthy life. Choose a sport that you like and that will not compromise your health. There is no use in signing up for a marathon if you can hardly make it to the postbox, you will fail and be discouraged. Research supports High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for weight loss, and it will also boost your cardiac fitness.
Dr. Izumi Tabata, a Japanese researcher and physician did research in athletes to see how HIITT compares to longer training sessions of less intensity. He found that the athletes’ performance improved more in the HIIT group in the time studied, than in the other group. The basic principle is to do an exercise for 20s at maximum effort and to rest for 10s, this is repeated 8 times before going on to another exercise (usually a total of 4 exercises), it is preferable to warm-up before starting and to stretch afterwards. Therefore, no excuse that you are too busy!
Finally, we should take extra care of our mental health. During the pandemic, it has become apparent that we are more social than we thought and that giving hugs are an essential part of our being. The non-pharmaceutical measures that protect us from the virus are also the measures that make it difficult to connect to others.
Let us start by changing the misnomer “social distancing” to “physical distancing”. We can still connect virtually or in small groups, but we need to choose our “exposure bubble” carefully. We need to be physically distant but not socially distant! Burn-out is a term that was used often the past few months.
It does not only refer to those taking care of the ill, but it also refers to those struggling to juggle working-from-home, attending to the children’s online school needs whilst worrying about your shrinking salary. Online therapy sessions are a positive that came from the pandemic. Those too shy to attend a practice for help, can now do so virtually. It might just be the first step to taking care of your mental health and take your life back. Live a healthy life, you only get one chance!
Medwell SA specialises in providing managed home health care as an alternative to long-term hospitalisation and care in specialised facilities. Medwell SA’s service offering includes managed care at home, post-hospitalisation and discharge from rehabilitation facilities as well as the supply of all needed medical equipment through our incorporated partner EDNA Medical Distributors. Medwell SA’s services are offered to all age groups including the elderly that have become frail and those with Dementia.
Dr Janet Strauss is the Chief Operations Officer at Medwell SA – The Home Health Care Specialists.
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