Prioritize You!

Five Tips for Keeping Healthy All Year Through

As the year began, many of us took a proactive approach to our health resolving to lead a healthier lifestyle by exercising more, eating right and reducing stress.

Are your resolutions sticking – or did they slide off your to-do list?

Here are five simple steps to keep you properly focused and give you more energy, both mentally and physically.

two women walking on hill

Exercise

Daily exercise is the key to a healthy lifestyle. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that to maintain your weight you need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, and 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, every week. More if you want to lose weight.

Moderate exercise means your breathing and heart rate are fast, but you can still carry on a conversation. Examples include walking briskly, light yard work, snow shoveling, playing with children and casual biking.

Vigorous exercise means you're breathing too hard and fast to hold a conversation. Such exercises include jogging, swimming laps, cross-country skiing, jump roping and playing basketball.

plate filled with green salad

Eat Right

Diets offer a short-term means of dropping some pounds, but the key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight isn't about quick fixes – it's about lifestyle changes. That means balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories your body uses.

The CDC suggests you reduce your calories by increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, avoiding processed foods and reducing consumption of foods high in fat, sodium and sugar.

Maintaining a healthy weight will help you look and feel better, and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other ailments.

bed with crisp white linens

Sleep Soundly

Getting enough shut-eye every night is an important component of your overall health. For optimum benefits, you should sleep six to eight hours every night. This will help your body replenish itself and rebuild cells.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, short sleep duration can result in several health risks, including:

  • Weight gain when lack of sleep triggers hunger.
  • Increased risk of diabetes and heart problems.
  • Greater potential for depression and substance abuse.
  • Difficulty paying attention or remembering new information.

To get a good night's rest, establish a consistent sleep and wake schedule, create a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoid watching TV or using a computer in bed.

woman meditating on beach at sunset

Manage Stress

Headaches, a sore neck, chest pains, insomnia – the list of physical ailments associated with stress goes on and on. Left unmanaged, stress can threaten your overall health and well-being.

It's important to find ways to cope and lessen the stress in your life. The American Institute of Stress suggests getting regular exercise and sleep, meditating, listening to music, or practicing yoga or tai chi.

A good support system of family and friends can also help minimize the negative impact of stressors in your life.

women laughing

Laugh a Lot

Laughter is good for your health. It releases endorphins, boosts your immune system, increases blood flow and relaxes your body. It can also be good for your heart.

Cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center discovered laughter may actually help prevent heart disease. The study found that people with heart disease were 40 percent less likely to laugh in a variety of situations compared to people of the same age without heart disease.

Laughter improves blood vessel function and increases blood flow, which in turn can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

As the old saying goes, "laughter is the best medicine."

Here's to Healthy Dreams!

In the American Family Go Get Your Dream Challenge, we heard from many people whose dreams involve living a healthier lifestyle.

These goals, captured in our Dreams Picture Mosaic, are both inspirational and motivational.

Check them out and be sure to add your own health-related dream (or a dream from any of five other categories).