Health & Fitness

Why your health should always be on your agenda

If you’re young and full of life, it’s easy to assume that you’re in good health. The trouble is that symptoms of some conditions develop very slowly and some are virtually impossible to spot. There’s also the risk of your health status changing very quickly and unexpectedly. Of course, it’s not possible to prevent every health problem going, but it is wise to put your health first, no matter your age.

Here are some easy ways you can make sure that your health and wellbeing are firmly on the agenda.

Get moving

Most of us start a brand new year with intentions to get fit, but if you’re one of those people who tends to throw in the towel after a couple of weeks, it’s time to review your stance on regular exercise. Some of us focus on exercise as a means of losing weight, but there are so many more benefits to enjoy from living an active lifestyle. Exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, it lowers the risk of depression, and it provides a natural high due to the release of endorphins. Working out on a regular basis also enables you to increase your fitness, stamina and strength, and you can also benefit from better immunity.

The gym isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to become a fan of wearing lycra and lifting weights to get in shape. You can go for a walk every day, you can cycle, swim, jog or play team sports, you could work out at home, or you could do classes like yoga, spinning, Pilates, acrobatics or Zumba. Find classes that are fun, and try and vary your sessions to maintain interest and motivation. Ideally, you should aim for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Get enough sleep

Do you plod through the day dreaming of getting into bed because late or sleepless nights have become the norm? It is estimated that 1 in 10 people suffer from chronic insomnia, and up to 50 percent of adults experience sleep troubles on a short-term basis. A single sleepless night probably won’t cause great harm, but a long-term lack of sleep can be incredibly damaging to your mental and physical health. As well as affecting your energy levels and your mood, sleep loss can result in lower immunity and increased susceptibility to illness, an elevated risk of anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease. If you try and survive on little or no sleep, you’ll also be more prone to accidents, which could have disastrous consequences.

If you find it difficult to sleep, the first thing to do is take a look at your daily routine. Avoid caffeine after 5pm, put yourself to bed and get up at the same time each day, and take time to relax and unwind before you try and nod off. Exercise is also proven to aid sleep. If increasing activity levels and adjusting your routine don’t help, seek help from your doctor.

Don’t be afraid of the doctor

Many of us are reticent to seek advice, even when we don’t feel well, or we suspect that something isn’t quite right. Research shows that men are particularly reluctant to arrange medical appointments. If you shy away from seeing doctors and dentists on a regular basis, there’s a risk that potential warning signs could be missed. General examinations, routine checks and quick, painless tests can lower the risk of complications and even save lives.

Check in with your dentist every 6-9 months, have your blood pressure and BMI checked frequently, and organize regular sexual health tests if you have more than one sexual partner. It’s also a good idea to book an annual eye test and to see your doctor if you notice any changes in your health, such as weight loss, changes in your bowel habits or unexplained pain or tiredness.

Keep an eye on your alcohol intake

Many of us enjoy a drink, and there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a bottle of beer or a Cosmopolitan on a Friday night. The worry is that it’s very easy to exceed the recommended intake of alcohol without even realizing. In the UK, for example, the recommended maximum weekly intake is 14 units. This equates to 14 small glasses of wine or single measures of spirits.

If you’re drinking every day or you’re going all out on the weekend, you may be drinking too much. To reduce your intake, try and switch up your social calendar and arrange outings and activities that don’t involve drinking, alternate alcoholic drinks with water or soft drinks and use a diary or an app to track your consumption.

Watch what you eat

There’s a huge amount of content related to diet in the media. If you feel like rolling your eyes when you see yet another photo of avocados on toast on Instagram, you might think that healthy eating isn’t for you. The truth is that eating well doesn’t have to involve exotic fruits, surviving on juices or making ornate flowers out of raw vegetables. You don’t have to spend hours preparing meals or track down tropical ingredients at independent stores miles away from home to improve your diet. Just focus on getting the basics right.

Keep an eye on how much sugar, saturated fat and salt you eat, aim for five portions of fruit and vegetables per day and try and buy lean meat, poultry and fish. Your diet should be balanced, so resist the lure of fad diets that encourage you to cut out an entire food group.

If you’re young and fit, you may not really give your health much thought. Youth can make us feel invincible, but the truth is that it’s never too early to start looking after yourself. Nobody knows what the future holds. You don’t have to overhaul your entire lifestyle, follow crazy diets or live in the gym, but making your health a priority is always a good idea. Try to be more active, eat well, get enough rest, drink in moderation and keep up to date with regular checks and routine examinations.

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