Posted on January 09, 2019 by Kate Gordon
The word healthy means keeping active to a lot of people and while this is true, there are many other ways in which one can be in good health. January is often seen as a bit of an ugly duckling when compared to other months of the year: after Christmas and New Year, we often feel deflated and unmotivated, and reluctant to start our new exercise regimes. Fortunately, there are countless ways to improve our mental outlook. Below are a few suggestions that you can implement right now in order keep your mind and body healthy alongside your sports, exercise and fitness schedules.
Diet is always a factor, both during and outside of exercising. It plays a big part in how you’re feeling mentally: a well-balanced week will speed up recovery and recuperation. This means the usual… plenty of fresh fruit and veg and everything in moderation, but more importantly – and often forgotten about – a reduction in processed foods.
Promoting the consumption of fresh and untampered produce is beneficial for all, and while not all processed foods are bad for your health, many of them can be removed from the diet. Take deli meats for example, many of which have been tampered with in some way, with preservatives and additives chucked in to prolong shelf life and sustain taste, but the risks associated with such meats are very detrimental to your health. A study published in the June 2010 issue of the journal Circulation indicated that deli ham and other processed meats trigger a 42 percent higher risk of heart disease, as well as an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Replace items like processed deli meats with healthier, organic, locally-sourced produce. This way, you help your body and the community. Generally, if you source organic, or even better, homemade food, you can monitor all the ingredients that have been used.
No brain, no gain
Exercise and physical output demand a strong head. Without looking after your brain in between and during workouts, it’s easy to burn out. Calling a time out and massaging the brain every so often can work wonders for your mental and physical wellbeing:
Reading – Flicking through a book before bed, on the way to work, or at lunch gives you an opportunity to look away from your screens, unplug and immerse yourself in whatever you choose. As well as giving you a break, there is strong evidence that reading can improve relationships with others, relieve stress and even combat symptoms of depression.
Fresh air – Enjoying the outdoors doesn’t have to mean working out. Leaving the office or house for half an hour or so and going for a walk is a welcome break to anyone’s schedule. If you have a park nearby or even a bench with a nice view, take some time and soak it all in (people watching is a great way to de-stress for 10mins).
Rest – Sleep is touched upon almost all the time when talking about mental wellbeing, and it’s no stranger here. Ensuring you have a regimented and routine sleep pattern is one of the most important things you can do to boost your state of mind. Make sure you’re hitting the sack before midnight and give yourself at least 7/8 hours of shut eye. In the time leading up to bed, turn off your phone, read a book and wind down. Many studies show that this improves not only the quality of sleep, but the time in which it takes to fall asleep too.
I’m not thirsty, I’m cold
Water isn’t just there to keep you cool during summer…seems like an obvious one, right? It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated in the winter months: the cold temperatures, long nights and dry days often lead to more of us getting dehydrated in winter compared to summer. There are a few key reasons as to why you should drink more (even if you don’t feel thirsty!) on colder days:
Defences – Water ensures your immune system can fight off colds, flus and other cold weather bugs. The body needs water in order to keep its defence mechanisms running and a lack of it can dry out membranes in the lungs, leading to increased risk of infection.
Moisturising – Water works wonders for skin in all weather. But when the temperature drops, it’s more than likely yours is drying out. A mixture of cold air, artificially heated spaces and icy winds can cause cracking and discoloration. Fluids ensure the skin cells remain healthy and hydrated, so sip often!
Energy levels – These are easily depleted in winter, as the sudden changes in outside/inside temperatures can cause the body to become exhausted throughout the day. Water in any case is fantastic for keeping us alert and awake, and the same applies here. Getting into your office in the morning after bracing minus figures can quite easily put you in to a sleepy state. Make sure you hydrate throughout the morning from the moment you get up, and on into the day to keep your head and body ticking over.
While it might look like there’s a lot to think about here, most of it is common sense. By looking after your physical and mental wellbeing, and making sure you’re getting enough rest and water, we can guarantee that you’ll stay on track and be healthy enough to keep exercising, even when it’s cold and dark out.
By Tom Alderton