Physical fitness is a common concern whenever the new year arrives. However, it does not matter when you start, but rather how well you stick to your new resolutions that will improve the state of your physical and mental health.
Here we will delve into the top health and fitness habits you can adopt to achieve a happier and healthier quality of life.
1. Set and track goals
When you are ready to improve your health and fitness, you need to have a plan. This means understanding what kind of fitness level you are at and setting realistic and measurable goals you can target.
For those with the time and resources, you can even go as far as getting blood tests and medical fitness tests done. It could even be as simple as tracking the number of steps you take per day and aiming to boost this metric every week by a set amount.
Remember to start slow if you have been sedentary. Building up your strength consistently and gradually will improve the chances that you will stick to your goals. You can create a diary or use online fitness tracking apps to help get a clear idea of how you are improving and when to make adjustments.
2. Be consistent
The best way to reach your goals is to try and be as consistent as possible. Whatever fitness plan you come up with, sticking to it will help condition your body to the fitness level you aspire to.
It takes small steps, so do not be overambitious. If you overdo your efforts, it could lead to injury and fatigue that will discourage your efforts. small but steady steps and increments will make it easier to stay the course.
Tracking your activity, be it how many kilometres you have walked or glasses of water consumed, will be useful in achieving consistency. The more often you find yourself reaching your daily goals, the more motivated you will likely be to keep up the same effort on subsequent days.
3. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is the cornerstone of a good health and fitness routine. It will help to elevate your heart rate, improve heart and lung function, lower excess weight, boost flexibility, and place you at lower risk for a variety of health problems like diabetes, heart problems and stroke.
It can also help to improve mental health and make it easier to adapt to a healthy diet. Diet and exercise work hand in hand to create a healthy mind and body.
4. Resistance training
When people think of exercise, they tend to focus on cardio like walking, running and aerobics. This should however be paired with resistance training that will help you build up your muscle and tone. It will also aid in boosting metabolism. Aim for compound movements that will allow you to work as many muscle groups as possible.
5. Cut back on processed foods and sugar
A healthy balanced and portion-controlled diet will be effective in helping you lose weight and achieve your other fitness goals. Much weight gain and other health problems are linked to the quality of food that you eat. Processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugars are big contributors to health problems as they deliver too many calories and energy that is converted into fat and stored in the body.
Try to include more fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables, high-fibre foods, and lean meats that will provide you with quality nutrition that supports good health. Also, avoid skipping meals as you need to ensure you are getting all the nutrients needed for your body to function properly and have energy for your daily activities. Switch out sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks for water as much as possible.
6. Embrace fruit and vegetables
Many people eat an insufficient amount of fruit and vegetables. This food group is an important source of many vitamins and minerals. Many also provide a good source of healthy carbohydrates and fibre that the body needs. However, try to limit the amount of sugar you consume from fruit sources.
7. Be moderate with alcohol
You do not need to entirely eliminate alcohol consumption from your diet. However, it is good to be aware of the problems heavy drinking can cause, including delivering a lot of empty calories and sugar, slowing your metabolism and stimulating your appetite. If you must drink alcohol, be moderate in your consumption to avoid sabotaging your other efforts to get healthy.
8. Get good sleep
With good rest, you are better able to achieve a healthy mind and body. The quality and quantity of sleep you get each day play a big role. Just as with exercise, you need to be consistent, hence establishing a routine where you get no more than eight hours of sleep during the same hours every night.
Avoid eating or drinking in the hours leading up to your bedtime and ensure you create a restful sleep environment. A cool, quiet, and dark bedroom where there is no use of electronic devices is preferable. Ensure that you are physically active during the day so your body is tired enough to easily fall into a deep sleep at night.
9. Indulge in self-care
Exercise, eating healthy, and good sleep are all part of self-care. These are some of the ways you can go about doing what is best for your physical and mental well-being. As part of acting in your best self-interest, also try to be flexible where you are struggling. Try out different exercise routines till you find one that works best for you. Be moderate when it comes to less-than-healthy habits like takeaways, drinking alcohol, and indulging in some chocolate. Do not make these behaviours a habit, but rather a small break or treat from the monotony.
10. Be patient
It can take a while to see the results of your efforts. Whether it is that ability to run a mile or shed some weight, change tends to come slowly. Even with slow progress, you are making progress. And each small success brings you closer to your goal. Be patient and do not give up.