Did you know that exercising regularly could help you fight off chronic conditions and diseases? Exercise can help control your blood pressure, blood sugar and weight, raise your “good” cholesterol, and prevent diseases such as colorectal cancer, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. If you’re ready to get active, keep the following tips in mind:
- Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., briskly walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (e.g., running) every week.
- Incorporate muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
- Avoid injuries by doing the following three steps each workout:
- Warm up: Warming up allows your body time to adjust from rest to activity. Always remember to gradually increase the intensity of your warmup to reduce stress to your bones, muscles and heart.
- Cool down: As with warming up, cooling down should include movements similar to those in your workout, but at a gradually decreasing level of intensity.
- Stretch: After cooling down, stretching helps to build flexibility and range of motion. When stretching, remember to use gentle, fluid movements and to breathe normally.
Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
Getting enough sleep isn’t always possible, but inadequate sleep is a bigger problem than you may think. Getting an adequate amount of sleep is vital to staying healthy and avoiding fatigue. Fatigue causes drowsiness, moodiness, loss of energy, inability to focus, and lack of motivation and alertness, which can, in turn, cause decreased productivity and even be a safety hazard. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Even if it means rearranging your schedule, make sleep a priority.
If you are struggling to fall asleep or get a restful night’s sleep, try the following tips:
- Maintain healthy habits, such as eating nutritiously, exercising regularly, managing your stress levels and not smoking—all of which will help you sleep better at night and give you more energy throughout the day.
- Create and stick to a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, including on weekends. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature and is quiet. Find a relaxing pre-sleep activity, such as listening to soft music or reading.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, large meals and rigorous exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
Eating a well-balanced diet is key to maintaining your health. In fact, improving your diet could help you live longer and reduce the chances of developing costly chronic diseases. Keep the following tips in mind when you’re getting started on your healthy eating journey:
- Get a personalized eating plan. Speak with your doctor to develop a plan that will give you the amounts of each food group you need daily. Your doctor may recommend you seek out a registered dietician or nutritionist to create the best plan for you.
- Set realistic goals. You are more likely to succeed in reaching realistic goals when you make changes gradually. Start with small changes.
- Balance your plate with a variety of foods. Fifty percent of your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables, 25 percent with lean meat, poultry or fish, and 25 percent with grains.
- Eat slowly. It takes between 15-20 minutes for your brain to get the message that your body is getting food. When your brain gets this message, you may stop feeling hungry.
- Practice portion control. A portion is the amount of food you choose to eat. Talk with your doctor or visit the United States Department of Agriculture’s website to learn more about proper portion sizes and daily food intake customized to your age, gender and activity level.
Please speak with your doctor if you have questions about fitness programs and/or healthy eating or how you can get started. If these tips do not help you sleep better, or you suspect you have a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea or insomnia, see your doctor.