Healthy Living: Simple steps to a better life

by Colin McDougall

When you watch TV or read magazines you get the impression that most people spend their days as lean, mean exercise fanatics who compete in triathlons, eat tofu, and drink a gallon of rain water a day.

If you don't fit this profile, you are not alone. Consider:

The writing is on the wall - poor diet and physical inactivity is about as dangerous as smoking. So, why don't we exercise and eat right? For most of us, the answer is: time. Exercise and diet take time away from our work, our families, our lives.

Some of us have tried to fit exercise into our daily routines before and maybe even stuck with a program for a while, but finally saw too little gain for the effort and time it took.

Here's the good news: a healthy lifestyle won't consume you like it might have years ago. The science of healthy living has come a long way in recent years. Consider:

Realistic health improvement for real people

We all know we should take better care of ourselves, but modern lifestyles with hectic work schedules, commuting, and family and social responsibilities make it difficult for us to live a healthy life.

But you can begin to live a healthier life. You can start slowly and work in more healthy practices. Interestingly, even small changes can lead to big improvements over time. Begin modestly by making a commitment to starting to do something and to stay with it. As you proceed, remember to be proud of your accomplishments-you will be doing more than 70 percent of the population!

The doctor will see you now

Before embarking on a fitness program and making dietary changes, talk with your doctor about your plans. If you have prior health conditions, especially cardiovascular disease, your doctor may want you to avoid certain exercises. If you are on certain medications, your doctor may give you valuable information on avoiding drug interactions with certain foods such as grapefruit and with some herbal supplements.

A special word to smokers

If you smoke, you know you need to quit. Modern research links smoking to a vast array of cancers, as well as heart and cardiovascular disease. According to the American Cancer Society, smoking alone causes one-third of all cancer deaths.

The bottom line-if you are a smoker, stopping represents the single best health action you can take. Talk with your doctor-there are new treatments available.

Some basic health objectives

It can be hard to know where to start when you want to improve your health.
Here are three baseline objectives for a healthier lifestyle:

Lose weight / Eat a more balanced diet

Qualified health professionals agree the keys to losing weight are to eat less, eat a more balanced diet, and to increase your exercise level. In general, reducing your intake of protein and eating more fruits and vegetables is a good start. Try and reduce your intake of saturated fats common in fried foods. Your heart will thank you.

Here are some tips:

Eat a diet that contains lots of:

Ensure you are getting an adequate supply of:

Reduce your consumption of:

Other Tips:

Consider diet supplements for weight loss and health

Despite our best efforts, it is hard to eat a balanced diet everyday. Consider taking one or more of the excellent vitamins and supplements available, but check with your doctor first before taking them.

Today, you can get the latest high quality vitamins and dietary supplements at low prices and without leaving your home by ordering over the Internet.

Avoid fad diets

Use common sense and follow the advice of government health authorities, university nutritionists and other well-accredited health care experts. Reliable nutrition advice is available free by contacting your local health department and talking with a nutritionist.

Be wary of the latest "Fad Diets" put forward by authors. Healthy eating is not rocket science-you need to eat a balanced diet that includes the four food groups:

This is well documented by decades of research. Sure, the fad diets may help you lose weight temporarily but at worst you could seriously damage your health and at best, you will likely gain the weight back if the diet is not sensible and sustainable.

Get more exercise

The second key to losing weight is to add more physical exercise into your lifestyle.
Exercise takes some effort and time, so it is fair to ask why you should bother. The key reasons include the following:

Research continues to show that any exercise is better than none. For example, regular walking or gardening may be beneficial in reducing your risk of heart disease.

Exercise

At a minimum you should strive for at least three 20-minute bouts of continuous aerobic (activity requiring oxygen) rhythmic exercise each week.

Other exercise levels will depend on your physical condition and goals. Consider a session or two with a certified personal trainer to accurately assess your current physical condition and plan an exercise regimen.

Easy ways for non-athletes to add exercise to their daily lives:

Consider creating a home gym

More and more people are purchasing exercise equipment to use at home. The advantages include:

Here are some tips in selecting equipment:

Determine what goals you want to pursue-strength training, aerobic training or cardiovascular training before you look at equipment. Buy sturdy, quality equipment from known manufacturers. Purchase equipment that will meet your needs now and as you improve Buy from a reputable retailer, who has a large selection, low prices, and stands behind their products.

Reduce Stress

The good news is that by eating a healthier diet and exercising more frequently, you will have already taken two of the most important steps to helping your body fight stress.

Obviously sources of stress are a personal matter. Be alert to chronic stress you have trouble managing. This can sometimes lead to more serious conditions for both men and women, such as depression. If you feel you are having trouble coping, it is best to talk with your doctor.

If on the other hand, you have the everyday level of stress most of us face, you may want to try these stress-reducing tips:

How can I get started on a healthier lifestyle?

If you are not living as healthy a life as you want right now, you may be wondering how you will find the time and the resources to make changes.

The good news is you don't have to make all the changes at once, but do resolve to make some improvements. Time is always an issue, but time taken to improve your health will yield big improvements in many other areas of your life.

There has never been a better time to start, because thanks to the Internet you can purchase quality heath care products and equipment, quickly and efficiently and save money too!

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