We all know that a healthy lifestyle can prevent chronic diseases and long-term illnesses, and boost mental health. But with so much information available, and so many passing health fads (hello, celery juice!), it can sometimes feel difficult to determine exactly which healthy habits are worth investing in if we want to live longer and healthier lives.
If you've been struggling to get into a new and healthy routine in 2020, you're not alone. When we feel stressed or overwhelmed, we often start to neglect our basic needs, whether that means sleeping less or eating more junk food than usual. If this sounds like you, it might be time to go back to basics, whether that is drinking more water or exercising more.
We spoke to our resident GP Dr Roger Henderson to get his advice on the healthy lifestyle choices that will have a big difference on our health:
1. Drink more water
When we’re born, almost 97 per cent of our body is made up of water. As adults, this figure falls slightly but still sits somewhere around 75 per cent. The vast majority of our brain cells are simply water, and even our teeth have 10 per cent water content. Every single cellular function in our body is in some way linked to our fluid levels: blood and cancer-fighting immune systems require water to flush out waste products away from cells and to transport nutrients and vital amino acids into them. Healthy cells work by absorbing nutrients from the water that bathes them, and even 2 per cent body dehydration is said to cause energy levels to drop by one fifth! Pay attention and notice your thirst – drink water (ideally, although tea and coffee is fine) on and off throughout the day to help keep your body at an optimum hydration level.
2. Prioritise sleep
Although there’s no simple answer as to what’s the ‘normal’ amount of sleep, most adults should aim for between seven and nine hours a night. It’s during sleep that your body restores, heals and strengthens itself both physically and mentally and a good sleep routine is important for good health.
3. Eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet doesn’t need to be difficult or complicated – the general key is to eat the right number of calories for how active you are. If you eat or drink too much, you’ll put on weight. If you eat and drink too little, you'll lose weight. The average man needs around 2,500 calories a day and the average woman needs 2,000. Eat a wide range of foods to ensure you’re getting balanced nutrition.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
If you need to lose weight, do it. The UK is fast becoming the most obese country in Europe, thanks to poor diets and lack of exercise. Eating a healthy, balanced diet plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight, which is an important part of overall good health. Being overweight or obese can lead to health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke.
5. Exercise more (and smarter)
《小镇疑云》，BBC America，3月4日播出。大卫·田纳特(David Tennant)携第二季归来，在这部引人共鸣的英国推理剧中继续饰演亚力克·哈迪(Alec Hardy)探员（去年他在美国翻拍版的《小镇疑云》[Gracepoint]中饰演埃米特·卡弗探员）。这部剧将于周一在英国首映，制作人们已经开始谈起第二季的秘密情节了，编剧克里斯·齐布纳尔(Chris Chibnall)在接受英国杂志采访时说的话可能会让剧迷不爱听，“第二季不是讲罪案的。”奥莉薇娅·科尔曼(Olivia Colman)继续饰演艾丽·米勒(Ellie Miller)探员，夏洛特·兰普林(Charlotte Rampling)和玛丽安娜·琼-巴普迪斯特(Marianne Jean-Baptiste)也加入了演员阵容。
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6. Stop smoking
Giving up smoking is probably the greatest single step you can take to improve your health. About half of all smokers die from smoking-related diseases. If you are a long-term smoker, on average, your life expectancy is about 10 years less than a non-smoker and only about half of long-term smokers live past 70. The younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke for longer and to die early from smoking. Smokers who quit before the age of 45 have a life expectancy close to that of people who have never smoked. For people above this age, the gap widens, but smokers who quit over the age of 45 still enjoy considerable health benefits over people who continue to smoke.
7. Take your medication correctly
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8. Wash your hands
Washing your hands is one of the most effective contributions you can make to public health – second only to vaccination in terms of effectiveness at reducing infection. Use hot water and soap (or an alcohol hand cleaning gel if this is impractical) to wash your hands after preparing food, going to the toilet, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands, after handling household waste, before preparing food or eating, when caring for a sick person, or when inserting or removing contact lenses.
9. Cover up in the sun
People used to associate a deep tan with good health, but it’s actually a sign of serious skin damage. The rising numbers of skin cancer cases in the UK – especially in the young – show the price that can be paid. Using tanning beds further increases this risk. People most at risk include those with fair skin (especially people with blonde or red hair with freckles) and those who have been sunburnt in the past (especially with blisters, and even if this happened many years previously). If you have more than ten moles, your risk increases as does using sun beds – or if there is a history of skin cancer in your family.
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