As we all start to get a little bit older, we begin to realize that maintaining good health becomes more and more of a priority and less of an indulgence. Why? The easiest answer is that as advances and improvements in medicine occurs, our quality of life begins to improve. And with that, our lifespans are also positively affected and they get increasingly longer. That's great news for all of us! We're living longer so we get to enjoy our friends, families and hobbies longer.
But the trick to this hinges on one small thing- our health. Living longer is great but if it's not done with good health, then we start to question the effectiveness or necessity of better medicine. The good news is that it is not difficult to make the shifts needed to improve and also maintain your good health. Here are the top 10 ways to help you maintain your good health:
1. Get plenty of quality, restful sleep. Most adults need a minimum of 7-8 hours of sleep but some feel rested on as few as 6 hours while others will require 9 hours. The number of hours is important but not as critical as the time you go to bed. Every hour of sleep before 12 midnight is worth twice that of each hour past midnight. You will feel a big difference if you sleep from 10 pm to 6 am versus if you sleep from 12 am to 8 am.
2. Drink plenty of clean water. Water is critical for the healthy functioning of our bodies and is intimately involved with every single organ and every single process of our bodies. Without it, our bodies will become sluggish and slow both inside and out. Aim for at least 10 full glasses of water a day, more if you plan on drinking caffeine beverages or plan on being outside in warm or hot weather.
3. Engage in some kind of exercise or movement based activity that gets your heart pumping. Cardiovascular exercise as well as strength training of any kind is a necessary factor in maintaining health as it keeps the body strong, fit and flexible to take on any challenges you throw at it. Aim for a grand total of 30 minutes minimum of exercise each day, either in one bout or spread through the day.
4. Eat your fruits and vegetables. Be creative, use variety and find a way to add these nutritional powerhouses into every meal. They are nutrient dense, minimalist on the calories and are full of flavor as well as fiber. Focus on the dark, leafy greens especially for heart health, digestive system fluidity and for plentiful energy.
5. Find and eat an adequate amount of protein, leaving room for that protein source to fit into your lifestyle goals and physical needs. Decide for yourself if you need animal or non-animal sources of protein or both. Most active adults need about 45-60 grams of protein per day. This will change dependent on activity level as well as age itself. Picture one egg, that's approximately 16 grams of protein. A half cup of beans, about 7 grams of protein.
6. Maintain healthy interpersonal relationships. Healthy relationships will improve your quality of life in a big way. You will know that they are healthy if you feel encouraged, supported and loved as opposed to beaten down, exhausted or emotionally drained. Decide for yourself if someone or something should remain in your life and in what capacity it will be in.
7. Have something to live for, something that helps you to feel alive, vital and a part of something bigger than yourself. This could be a career, volunteer work, your spirituality, your creativity, absolutely anything. You could be active in sports, games, in your family, whatever it takes for you to feel needed, special and valuable.
8. Go to the doctor. Get regular check-ups. Just do it. Know what you're dealing with and allow yourself to be proactive.
9. Leave space for forgiveness, not only for others but also for yourself. The fastest way to let yourself become unhealthy or to feel not quite yourself is to wallow in feelings of sadness, anger, despair and pity. Let yourself be human, allow space for mistakes- yours and others- and be strong enough to let go.
10. Fill your fun quota every day to overflowing. Use that fun as a way to do something purely for yourself, to cut down on stress and create memories that you'll look back on with fondness.
It may seem like being healthy is a daunting task but in reality, it's just about being alive every single day. It's about being fully alive in every moment and doing the things that make your body feel good, make your heart feel alive and make you feel grateful every moment of every single day.