Ten tips for a healthy life

1. Exercise. People who exercise regularly have raised levels of infection fighting cells in their blood, they also have more energy. A daily exercise routine, even a short walk, will help ward off seasonal sniffles, create feelings of wellbeing, help you reduce tension and relax. Aim for 30 minutes a day, ideally.

2. Give up smoking. It is not only bad for your lungs but it also significantly increases your risk of heart disease. Cigarettes contains potent chemicals which can break down your resistance to colds and flus also. It is never too late to kick the habit and the sooner you do the quicker your health will improve.

3. Get a good night’s sleep. It will recharge your batteries and give your body’s repair system a chance to get working. If you do not get enough sleep it will not get an opportunity to keep itself healthy. Persistent lack of sleep can lead to irritability, tension, inefficiency and even car accidents. Research indicates that people who have poor sleep achieve less and retain jobs for a shorter time than those with undisturbed sleep. The key to solving sleeplessness problems may be found in our daily routine. Physical activity in the morning or afternoon deepens one’s quality of sleep and reduces the time it takes to fall asleep. By examining our sleep schedule, eating habits, and lifestyle choices we may identify the culprits and go on to achieve quality sleep. Try some of these suggestions to help you get more shut-eye:

* Have a light, healthy snack before bed.

* Limit or cut-out caffeine drinks. It adversely impacts on our health when we drink too much of it. About two cups per day reduces sleep time and increases the time it takes to get to sleep. Six hours after drinking a cup of coffee only half of the caffeine has left our bloodstream. Generally aim to avoid stimulants, such as coffee, tea, cola drinks and highly spiced foods, after 5pm because they make it harder to fall and stay asleep.

* Get up at the same time daily even on weekends.

* Make an effort to relax and unwind before bed. You will have a better chance of falling asleep quicker and getting a better quality sleep.

* Avoid exciting or emotionally upsetting activities too close to bedtime. They fire up our systems, may induce muscle tension and prepare the body for action.

* Drinking hot milk before bedtime may help you sleep. Taking long afternoon naps can interfere with night-time sleeping patterns. If you need to have a lie down do not do so for longer than 30 minutes. If possible, avoid napping as it lessens the need for night-time sleep.

4. Try to reduce stress. It has an adverse effect on your health. Traumatic experiences, such as a death in the family, moving house or losing one’s job, can often be a factor that leads to an illness. It is important to learn to relax and take at least 10 minutes each day to unwind. You can do this by closing your eyes and shutting out all thoughts. Lie down, listen to some relaxing music and concentrate on relaxing every part of you. You will find it instantly beneficial.

5. Share your worries. Worry can eat away at your happiness, sap your energy and prevent you from relaxing. A worry shared is a worry halved. Avoid bottling up your fears and concerns. Find a listening ear be it family or friends.

6. Have a balanced diet. Start by eating breakfast. This meal not only breaks your long overnight fast and aids concentration it also lays down the foundation for healthy eating for the rest of the day. Skipping this important first meal of the day results in poor physical and mental performance later. Wholemeal or bran cereals with milk and topped with fruit give a good start to the day together with an orange or unsweetened juice and some wholemeal bread.

Keeping blood sugar levels stable is important to ward off fatigue. Some experts suggest eating something every three to four hours. This will help sustain your energy levels and prevent you overeating at one sitting.

Choose fresh, wholesome and organic foods and ensure you have variety. Rotate them and experiment with new ones. This means more nutrients for the body and may help prevent food allergies or intolerances developing. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread as well as wholegrain cereals, pastas, lean meat, fish, cheese, eggs and salads.

7. Boost your immune system. By eating in moderation and adhering to a balanced diet it will improve. Cut out fried foods, white bread and alcohol and increase your intake of wholemeal bread, fruit, vegetables and white meat. Cut down, if not out, sweets and biscuits and avoid snacks between meals.

8. Drink lots of water. Fluids are important if you want to stay healthy.You need water to regulate body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to your organs and tissues. It also helps transport oxygen to your cells, removes waste from your body which boosts your resistance and fitness levels and protects your joints and organs.

9. Be a healthy weight for your body type and size. Do not fret over not being your ideal weight - most of us are not - but aim for a healthy weight with which you are reasonably comfortable. If you are overweight try to reduce your weight by becoming more physically active and eating less. Avoid crash diets. If you are below your ideal weight the first step is to find out how much you need to gain. Then gradually increase your portion sizes and your overall calorie intake. Eat three meals a day with healthy snacks in between. Do not skip meals because this will lead to the loss of valuable nutrients. Aim to eat more proteins. Try milk, cheese, lean meat, fish, yoghurt, wholegrains and nuts. These will help you add healthy weight and have a toned body and muscles as well.

10. Have balance in your life. Learn to prioritise and value your free time. Be gentle with yourself and be sure to set aside time each day for work, family, social life and your own free time.

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