Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 April 2014

Do you have a healthy lifestyle? Here’s a 5-point checklist

What is a healthy lifestyle? A phrase commonly used by medical professionals and advertisers alike, a healthy lifestyle is a broad term, very much dependent upon the context in which it is used.

Indeed, it’s possible for a person to believe they are leading a healthy life, by exercising or eating a certain diet, but they may have other facets of their lifestyle where they are particularly unhealthy. Therefore, to combat this, here is a quick checklist of five criteria that can help you judge just how healthy your current lifestyle is, together with an idea of how you can make changes for the better.

1. Exercise

In 2009, the World Health Organisation reported that due to changes in working patterns, 60 per cent of the world’s population do not get enough physical exercise. The good news is that to make a healthy lifestyle change in this area is not a great commitment. The UK Government recommends adults do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.

This does not mean you need to join a gym or sports club. There is a wide range of home exercise equipment available, perfectly suited to giving you a great workout. Furthermore, new technology in this area, such as a vibrating exercise machine, is ensuring that you can get as good a workout at home, as you can in the gym.

2. Nutrition

A diet that is high in saturated fats and sugars can lead to obesity as well as a wide variety of other medical problems. A healthy diet, which includes a high percentage of natural foods, such as fruit and vegetables, and little intake of sugary or fatty foods, is vitally important in helping maintain a healthy lifestyle.

3. Sleep

The NHS states that we need sleep ‘to rest our minds and bodies and restore our energy for the following day’ and it is true to say that as a society, we do undervalue the importance of sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle. All too often, the proper amount of sleep becomes secondary to work or social commitments, yet sufficient rest is as imperative as any part of any healthy fitness regime. For those who suffer with poor sleeping patterns, there are many sleep aids now available to help alleviate and control these instances and promote a healthy night’s rest.

4. Alcohol

Most people enjoy a drink now and again, but when does alcohol consumption become damaging to a healthy lifestyle? The NHS recommends that men should not regularly drink more than three or four units a day, and women two to three units a day; this equates to less than a pint and half of some lagers. In addition to the negative effects of alcohol, the additional calories contained within alcoholic drinks can also lead to weight gain, while the effects of over-consumption can lead to a variety of social problems. Reducing your alcohol intake can only be considered beneficial to your overall health and well being.

5. Smoking

Smoking has nothing but negative effects upon the body. It introduces toxins and carcinogens into the body and can result in the smoker becoming addicted to nicotine. Even smoking just a few cigarettes a day has a clear and measurable effect on a healthy lifestyle and as such, it is no surprise to see governments across the globe launch initiatives to help individuals give up smoking. Indeed, many medical professionals state that the most important thing an individual can do to improve their health is to stop smoking.

The key to a healthy lifestyle is not tackling each of these issues in isolation. It is by changing how you live in these five key areas, which will have real, radical and measurable effects on improving your overall health and wellbeing.

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