This time of year, many people are making resolutions to take charge of their health and focus on improving habits. However, keeping those resolutions can be a bit of a daunting task.
When the holidays are over and it is back to the daily grind, those exercise goals and eating plans can seem like more of a punishment than a resolution.
But what if you knew those goals could truly improve your quality of life? Research suggests that living a more active lifestyle is the key to living a longer, more fulfilling life. Exercise and a balanced diet can improve everything from mobility to mood, organ function and even libido, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Exercise may be the missing piece that brings balance into your life.
Keep in mind, exercise doesn’t have to mean endless hours of sweat and pain to be beneficial. In fact, it is recommended for adults to achieve 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise each week, according to the American Heart Association. This may include brisk walking, hiking, riding a bike or even pushing a lawn mower. It is also important to include exercises that improve endurance, strength, flexibility and balance, according to the Michigan State University Extension.
Regular exercise has also been shown to improve sleep patterns and immunity. Physical activity during the day can trigger your body to fall asleep faster and wake up less during the night.
And, we cannot forget about the second component of well-being: a balanced diet. Below are some tips from an article published by the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
3 nutrition goals to set this year
- Try eating more whole grains. Whole grains are shown to benefit our hearts and our waistlines. They have recently been shown to reduce our cancer risk as well. Try swapping your white rice for brown rice or swapping sugary cereal for whole grain cereal flakes.
- Go for a meatless Monday. Or, choose a day of the week that works for you. Swap your typical meat choice for a meatless version, such as beans or tofu. For instance, you could swap your hamburger out for a black bean or veggie version. You could also try a burrito bowl topped with beans and your favorite veggie toppings.
- Cook at home more. It is hard to control the nutritional content of items we order from a restaurant menu. So, try cooking at home more often where you can control more of what goes in your food. Try bringing lunch from home or cooking at home at least one more day during the week. Using resources like choosemyplate.gov will help with menu planning ideas.
Improved quality of life is a resolution that we could all agree is worth sticking with. Use 2018 to not only improve your health and well-being but also establish healthy habits that will benefit your loved ones for years to come.
Carin Booth is the family and consumer sciences agent at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in Hall County. She can be reached at 770-535-8293 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column publishes monthly.