As the excitement of the New Year winds down, March is often a perfect time to settle into a new health routine. Many of us brought forward personal hopes for weight loss, exercise, better nutrition, quitting smoking and improving our mental wellbeing.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified four unhealthy habits that cause us to experience decreased heath, chronic disease and early death:
- Tobacco use
- Poor nutrition
- Substance abuse
If addressing at least one of these unhealthy habits aligns with your personal goals of 2019, I look forward to providing you with information and tips for how to get started, and be successful, on your wellness journey.
As an internal medicine physician for two decades, I find most people don’t realize that general statements such as “increase my exercise” and “watch my diet” are not practical pieces of advice that translate easily into daily actions.
I thought it might be worth sharing how we can all care for our most precious possession: ourselves.
Let’s start with what I think could be the easiest new habit to adopt in support of your overall health – a daily stroll.
Moving daily is vital for our health, particularly mental health, strength, cardiac health, emotional wellbeing, metabolism and skin. By moving every day our bodies simply function better. I believe most people appreciate and know this fact already, but Americans rank 42nd for physical activity in the world.
So why aren’t we exercising? Many of us may feel overwhelmed by the thought of joining a gym, running endless miles and enduring cold weather. Ultimately, we don’t start because we simply don’t know where to begin.
Here’s a start. Go for a walk. An easy (daily) walk. Walk the dog, walk with a friend, walk with your significant other, just get up and walk. Start with 20 minutes. A mere 20 minutes. That’s it! Simple health hacks such as using the stairs at work or taking a break from your desk to walk around the office can have a big impact on our health. It’s also easy to track your progress with a step counter (pedometer) or use the tracker built into your phone that is already tracking how many steps you take.
The first goal is taking a few steps. Gradually work your way up to 10,000 steps a day. The positive health benefits of 10,000 steps can have an incredible ripple effect. Taking 10,000 steps a day is considered a healthy goal if you want to decrease your risk of heart disease and give your overall wellness a boost.
Findings from multiple studies demonstrate that walking reduced the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and cut the risk of dying by 32%.
You can boost your energy from just one simple exercise, along with improving your stamina and your mood in addition to decreasing your health risk.
In summary, a moving body is always heading in the right direction – toward overall wellbeing.
Next time, let’s discuss how to start down the journey to better nutritional health and wellness, one step at a time.