6 health hacks to start the new year
More than 90% of our New Year’s resolutions will be broken. So what’s the answer if you want to be healthier in 2017?
Life coach Alison O'Leary says that aiming for huge health goals can be overwhelming – better to focus on tiny, manageable lifestyle changes. “Small steps require less discipline, lower the mental barrier to change and, importantly, feel good as you start to build momentum at the right pace for you,” says Alison.
With this in mind, here are six simple health hacks that most of us can manage. These minor tweaks to our lives could have a major impact over time.
1. Walk for 10 minutes (or more) every day. A 10-minute walk burns around 50 calories – and the heavier you are, the more you burn! Simply getting off the bus a stop earlier or walking instead of driving one trip a day can make a difference. When 10 minutes becomes routine, go faster, and each month add another 10 minutes until you reach an hour a day.
2. Have your cake… and eat your five-a-day. Whatever else you’re eating, it’s key to ensure that you eat fruit and veg every day. Each of our five daily portions cuts the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke by 4%, according to research published in the BMJ* last summer.
3. Improve your bedroom etiquette. The NHS estimates that one in three of us is regularly affected by insomnia and it’s well recorded that caffeine, big meals or using back-lit devices just before sleep are all no-nos. Perhaps the best bit of advice the NHS recommends is avoid watching television, making phone calls, eating or working while you're in bed.
4. Share your sweets. If you have leftover Christmas chocolates or treats, take them to work or re-gift and you’ll save yourself the temptation to tuck in. You’ll please your friends and avoid some unnecessary calories – win-win!
5. Meet up with friends rather than relying on calls or emails. Face-to-face interaction is a key factor in lowering our risk of depression or stress, according to a new report published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society†.
6. Learn to say no to that second drink. Even if you do this every other time you are drinking alcohol, you will be positively reducing your intake – especially if you’re one of the 27% of British people who exceed the recommended weekly limit. Drinkaware has a free app that can help you track your intake.
Alan Teo, M.D., M.S. Does Mode of Contact with Different Types of Social Relationships Predict Depression Among Older Adults? Evidence from a Nationally Representative Survey. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, October 2015