Improving your health doesn’t need to mean making huge, scary adjustments. You don’t need to follow a strict diet or start a vigorous workout regime to live well, stretch the years of your life and make them happier and more energised.
Making simple and easy tweaks to your lifestyle can make all the difference – like adding more herbs to your meals, standing more than you sit, taking up gardening and watching yoga videos on YouTube.
When it comes to our health, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and only you will know the areas where you need to make changes in order to feel your absolute best. Perhaps you want to improve your sleep, maybe you want to work on your stress levels, or perhaps you want to keep your heart and lungs fighting fit. So to help you on your way, we have gathered 100 of the best health and wellbeing tips here in one place for you. Get ready for a healthier, happier you…
Health tips on how to live well
- Sit on the floor
OK, it may not be as comfy as your super-squashy sofa, but according to studies of the world’s longest-living populations, sitting on the floor can help us stay healthier for longer. For example, in Okinawa in Japan, home to the longest-living women in the world, most sitting, whether to read, eat or talk, is done on the floor. The reason it’s so beneficial? Repeatedly standing from a seated position on the floor is good for flexibility, strength and co-ordination, which are all known to have favourable influences on life expectancy.
- Drip with health
A small knob of butter or light drizzle of oil on veggies isn’t just delicious, but can be health helpful, too. “Some nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E and K (found in green vegetables and sweet potatoes) are fat soluble so a smidgen of fat, such as olive oil, helps with nutrient absorption,” says Ian Marber, a leading independent nutrition therapist (ianmarber.com).
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- Wean off wine o’clock
A glass of wine in the evening might help you fall asleep, but can impact the quality of your slumber, leaving you sluggish the following day. To help prevent this, avoid drinking close to bedtime to give your body time to process the alcohol. As a rough guide, it’s thought to take one hour for your body to process one unit of alcohol, although this varies between individuals. To find out more about the units in your drink – and to ensure you’re not exceeding the maximum 14 units a week – use the Unit Calculator on drinkaware.co.uk.
- Cuddle up
In one study, volunteers who had regular hugs over a two-week period were found to be less likely to catch a cold. It’s believed this is because hugs are one of the fastest ways to get the feel-good chemical oxytocin flowing in the body, which helps to reduce stress and, in turn, protect immunity.
- Know the three Cs
More of us are suffering from hay fever than ever before, with reactions lasting longer and affecting those who haven’t suffered previously. “The interaction of pollen with rising pollution, as well as climate change, are added factors,” says Dr Beverley Adams-Groom, chief palynologist at the University of Worcester. Reducing your exposure to pollen is key so know the three Cs: Count (check the Met Office’s pollen forecast); Cover (try big sunglasses, Vaseline around your nose, and closing the windows when the pollen count is high); and Clean (when you come home, shower, change clothing; and wipe down pets with a wet cloth).
- Watch dry fruit
Delicious dried fruits like apricot, fig and mango are very high in sugar, so it’s worth keeping your intake in check. Aim for 30g – or about 1tbsp – which counts as one of your five-a day.
- Listen to your gut
Have you noticed how your stomach reflects what you’re feeling emotionally? If you’re stressed or anxious this can slow digestion, triggering bloating, pain and constipation, but in other people it may speed up digestion causing diarrhoea and frequent trips to the loo. So, when feeling angsty, don’t rush your food. Take time to eat slowly, put your fork down between bites, and chew each mouthful well.
- Get your vitamin green
It’s official: surrounding yourself with green views has a powerful effect on health and wellbeing, reducing psychological stress and boosting energy, self-esteem, and mood. As well as regularly getting out in nature, position the chairs in your house so you naturally gaze out of the windows, fill your home with indoor plants, and set your computer screensaver to your favourite landscape.
- Be snack savvy
Know the four Ps for smart snacking on the go: Plan, Pack, Protein and Produce. So, Plan ahead; Pack your snacks in spill-proof containers; include Protein to keep you satisfied for longer; and add fibre-rich fresh Produce like fruit or vegetables. An apple with Greek yogurt, a cheese stick, or a few nuts, can satisfy your cravings in a healthier way.
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- Nail it
Podiatrists see 10,000 ingrown toenails each year. The problem develops when the sides of the toenail grow into the surrounding skin, causing redness, inflammation, and sometimes infection. Ouch! To keep them at bay, don’t use nail scissors. Instead, use clippers to cut straight across the nail and avoid cutting them too short.
- Morning, sunshine!
“Throwing back your curtains in the morning can help you to sleep better at night,” says Dr Alanna Hare, a consultant in sleep medicine. “This is because light is key in regulating our sleep patterns and so getting natural sunlight helps sync your body’s sleep/wake cycle.”
- Reap what you sew
Mindfulness – noticing your thoughts, feelings, emotions and bodily sensations – is proven to deal with stress and anxiety, and is even recommended by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) as a way of helping to prevent depression. Looking for a new way to give it a try? Try embroidery, which ticks all the mindfulness boxes because you must slow down and focus on the task in hand. For a new project, try DMC The Mindful Mandala Embroidery Duo Kit (£20, John Lewis).
- Love your lentils
Add red lentils to your next spaghetti bolognese or shepherd’s pie. They have a ‘meaty’ taste, which means they can be easily added to mince meals for a higher-fibre supper. Cutting down on meat? Replace your beef altogether.
- Win with one
Always think ‘can I add one more set/movement?’ when you exercise. So, if you cycle around the park five times, make it six; if you’re playing tennis, play another set. That one little push of movement in the end will get you fitter faster, plus you’ll realise you can do more than you give yourself credit for, which is powerful fitness fuel.