12 Ways to Improve Health and Wellness
If someone asked you what your greatest asset is, what would you say? The majority of people will list their health at the top of their list of things they’re most thankful for and consider one of their most important assets. Improving your health and wellness can help to reduce your risk of developing preventable diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as improve overall quality of life.
Another aspect of health and wellness is our emotional and mental wellbeing, which is becoming more of a focus in the treatment of diseases. Emotional health is often linked to our physical health, so both are equally important.
There is always room for improvement when it comes to maintaining your health. The goal is never perfection, but to be mindful of where you are on your health journey and cognizant of what you want to achieve. By being patient and accepting of your progress, you can make small steps every day that will benefit your health and wellness.
PlateJoy strives to help individuals on their health journey, especially when it comes to planning meals and snacks. With everything going on in your busy life, it can be helpful to have a customized meal plan from main dishes, snacks, and desserts. Check out our clean eating meal plans and the tips below for inspiration on how to improve health and wellness.
How to Improve Health and Wellness by Staying Active
The health benefits of getting regular physical activity are well-known and will never be disputed, despite other health advice that has come and gone over time. Being active reduces the risk of several chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and cancer. It also reduces the risk of depression and other mental health disorders.
Being physically active is recommended across the entire lifespan, from children to the elderly. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week is the general guideline, but getting more than that is even better. Getting a mix of cardiovascular exercise (such as walking) and strength training is ideal. The World Health Organization recommends strength training at least two days per week due to the benefits of strength and resistance training.
Supporting muscle mass through resistance or strength training has even been shown to help improve blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood lipid levels as well as bone density.
In order to reap the benefits of physical activity, try the following tips:
1. Have an exercise routine
People who have established routines are more likely to stick with their exercise goals. Dedicating a certain time of day for exercise, such as in the morning or on the way home from work, is a good way to schedule this important act of self-care into your daily schedule. From HIIT workouts to desk exercises, your activities can be as simple or as complex as you choose. Finally, never underestimate the benefits of walking everyday; you don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to stay healthy!
2. Take the stairs
Finding small ways to increase your activity level throughout the day may seem trivial, but they all add up. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or parking a few blocks away from work are great ways to get some activity in. Taking these extra steps (literally!) helps to contribute to the goal of getting 30 minutes of activity on most days.
3. Break up the sitting
If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, it’s best to break up those periods of being sedentary by taking a short walk. Many people’s jobs are extremely sedentary and involve hours of sitting, which is detrimental to health. In fact, sitting for prolonged periods of time is linked with increased risk of developing certain chronic diseases. Setting a timer to remind yourself to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour is a great strategy. In fact, many fitness trackers have this capability built-in and will alert you if you’ve been sitting too long and need to get up and move.
4. Stretch or do yoga
Sitting for long periods of time can cause tightness in the hips, which can lead to a slew of other aches and pains, including back and knee pain. Yoga has been found to be a safe and effective intervention for back pain, and has even been found to have a positive effect on mental health. If you do not have time to visit a gym, you can try and do your own yoga sequence at home.
Improve Your Health and Wellness with a Healthy Diet
Eating habits are closely linked to health outcomes, both physical and mental. Healthy eating habits, such as those in a Mediterranean-style diet, have been linked with lower morbidity and mortality. Most people have the desire to eat a healthy diet, but may fall short due to time restrictions, lack of cooking knowledge, and other lifestyle factors.
5. Meal planning
One of the most common barriers to healthy eating is a lack of time, preparation, and cooking knowledge – but PlateJoy can help! Subscribing to a personalized meal planner can not only help you learn what a healthy, balanced diet looks like, but it will help you get in the habit of planning meals. We often have good intentions when it comes to our eating habits, but without planning ahead, life gets in the way of those intentions.
PlateJoy offers a variety of customized meal plans for all sorts of dietary preferences, so there’s something for everyone.
6. Be realistic
If you want to improve your health and wellness for the long-term, you’ll need a realistic, long-term eating plan. While fad diets and supplements may seem tempting, they often don’t provide sustainable results. Being overly-restrictive tends to only work for a short amount of time, leading to yo-yo dieting, binge eating, and other unhealthy behaviors. So instead of swearing off all carbs, think of something more realistic and sustainable, such as increasing the amount of vegetables with dinner or skipping the sweetened lattes on your way to work.
7. Make healthy substitutions
Making small substitutions throughout the day can really add up! Swapping out less-than-healthy foods with a more nutritious option doesn’t have to feel like restriction or deprivation. Some examples of healthy swaps include:
- Having oatmeal with berries and nuts for breakfast instead of sugary cold cereal.
- Adding mashed avocado to a sandwich instead of mayonnaise.
- Ordering a “half sweet” latte instead of the fully-sweetened version.
- Making sandwiches on whole grain bread instead of white bread.
8. Drink plenty of water
Sugar-sweetened beverages are one of the leading contributors of added sugar in a typical diet. Added sugar is a culprit behind many health conditions, including diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Not only is water the healthiest option, but is necessary for us to function at our best, both physically and mentally.
Get creative with your water consumption to make it more appealing:
- Infuse water with fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cucumbers, and mint.
- Try sparkling water.
- Make a batch of home-brewed tea and keep it on hand in the fridge.
- Add probiotics to your hydration regimen with the fermented beverage, kombucha– just make sure it's a low-sugar variety.
Improve Your Health and Wellness By Focusing on Mental Health
Mental and emotional health is just as important as physical health. When emotional health is poor, it can be much more difficult to improve physical health. Thankfully, mental health is getting much more appreciation in recent years and is becoming a bigger focus, both for preventing mental health disorders and treating them.
9. Get better sleep
Not getting enough sleep can affect your health. The Centers for Disease Control recommends adults get seven or more hours of sleep per night, but unfortunately, many people fall short of that recommendation. Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased prevalence of chronic disease, mental health problems, and increased risk of obesity. Following good sleep hygiene habits, such as having a relaxing bedtime routine and avoiding screen time close to bedtime can help improve sleep quality.
10. Practice stress management techniques
Stress can wreak havoc on our mental health, which can ultimately manifest in physical health problems over time. Some popular stress management techniques include meditation, deep breathing, exercise, seeking social support, and speaking with a qualified therapist or counselor whenever needed.
11. Try keeping a gratitude journal
It’s incredibly easy to focus on the negative things in our lives, or compare ourselves to other people. Getting caught in this negative pattern of thinking is not only harmful, but can lead to increased anxiety and depression. Writing down several things you are grateful for each day can be a helpful reminder of what’s going right in your life, and help you realize that things probably aren’t as bad as they seem.
12. Take a social media break
Social media use has been linked to increased anxiety and depression. It’s easy to compare ourselves to someone else’s seemingly perfect life, without really knowing what’s going on behind the filtered photos. Using social media also reduces our face-to-face interactions, which are helpful and necessary to feel connected and supported.
There are several factors that come into play when looking at health and wellness. Focusing on healthy eating, being physically active, and supporting your mental health are some key areas to focus on when looking to improve your health and wellness.
Take advantage of digital resources for health promotion, such as meal planning, workout, and meditation apps. PlateJoy is a meal planning service that offers personalized meal plans, smart shopping lists, and other healthy living tools to help you reach your health goals.