There are a million health and fitness plans out there, but which ones work and which ones are just fads? Here are five simple facts to help you make your own decisions when it comes to living a healthy and happy life.
- Get the right amount of sleep
How much sleep is enough? According to the Sleep Health Foundation, sleep is the fundamental pillar to good health with the recommended amount of sleep for adults remaining around the 8 hour mark. However, different studies indicate the healthy optimum sleep time per night ranges from 6.5 to 8.5 hours.
Researchers at the University of California in the United States have found those who sleep for 7 hours a night have the greatest life expectancy.
Something else to consider is that people who get up at the same time each day, regardless of the time they have gone to bed, are proven to have higher productivity and alertness levels than those who wake at irregular times each day.
- How fit do I have to be to live a long and healthy life?
In his 1926 book ‘Endurance’, strongman athlete Earle Liederman wrote: “Every man should be able to… swim far enough, run fast and long enough to save his life in case of emergency and necessity. He also should be able to chin himself a reasonable number of times, as well as to dip a number of times, and he should be able to jump a reasonable height and distance.”
Maybe his views were a little extreme, but in general terms a healthy young adult should be doing a reasonable mixture of aerobic exercise and strength activities each week. Fitness experts suggest anywhere between 3 to 4 one hour aerobic exercise sessions per week. Essentially, it comes down to you, so keep moving and keep yourself strong.
For more information on how much exercise you should be doing, visit the federal health department’s website: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#guidelines_adults
- What is good nutrition?
If you believe the hype, there’s any number of super foods you should be consuming or strangely named vegies you should be slurping down in liquid form on a daily basis. Do they do the job? Well, who really knows?
The federal government offers a great resource in the form of the Eat for Health website http://www.eatforhealth.gov.au providing Australian Dietary Guidelines and advice about the amount and kinds of foods that Australians need to eat for health and well being.
- Reduce the stress – aim for happiness
In simple terms (and in the words of an old song): “eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive”.
If stress is being caused by your job – look at ways to improve the situation or even look for a new job. If stress is being caused by a relationship, address the issues to reduce the stress.
Stress can cause an array of negative impacts on your life and general well being. Firstly there are the medical impacts like increased blood pressure, sleep issues, problems with your appetite, body aches and pains; there are even links to heart disease and stroke. But there are also the impacts on your personal life. Stress can cause irritability, affect your concentration and impact your attention to detail – these, in turn, can affect your performance in your job and your relationships. In extreme circumstances stress can lead to depression and other mental health issues. See you doctor if stress is overwhelming you.
- Lifestyle – everything in moderation
Socialising, partying and enjoying yourself are part and parcel of the journey of life. However, there are times when you eat too much, drink too much and things can get out of control. Too much of this lifestyle can negatively impact your general well-being. As with most things in life, enjoy everything in moderation.
It’s also important to ensure you take time out for yourself – perhaps you enjoy reading, meditating, yoga, having a massage or even some TLC at the beautician. Make sure you take some time to ‘relax and refresh’ as often as you need it.
Above all, a healthy and balanced lifestyle leads to health and balance in other areas of your life – from relationships to your social life to your job and even your performance in sports and activities. Setting yourself up now will ensure a happy and healthy you for many years to come.