Another new year is fast approaching and so are the resolutions! We here at Motion4Life are committed to you and your health beyond just the physical. That’s why we put together this comprehensive list of 5 simple ways to improve your health and avoid injury in the 2017.
1) Reduce injury by stretching
A lot of us will make the resolution this January to exercise more and that’s fantastic, but how many of us are working a comprehensive stretching program in there?
Stretching post workout helps prevent future injury and keeps your muscles from tightening and shortening. It also improves posture, blood flow, your balance and a number of other things. Stretching throughout the day is also pivotal to good health.
A lot of us live a sedentary lifestyles, which means our muscles are not being used as often and can become tight and potentially degenerate over time. If you sit in one place often, there’s particular strain placed on your glutes and lower spine, two essentials to overall balance and body health.
A good rule of thumb is to get up and stretch your muscles for five minutes for every hour of sitting. Even something as simple as a gentle stretch of the glutes and hamstrings can do wonders for you. Rotational stretches for your lower spine are also critical to overall spine health and posture.
These small daily tweaks will give you visible results, we promise! Back pain, pain in the shoulder blades, knees, and the hips can all be significantly improved by incorporating daily stretching into your routine.
2) Reduce Stress
Stress causes a multitude of health problems: weight gain weight loss, a compromised immune system, emotional trauma, it can exacerbate skin conditions, we could go on, but basically it’s bad. Really really bad.
When we feel stressed, our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline thinking our body needs more fuel for that “fight or flight” moment. When that fuel isn’t used, it is stored as excess fat and cause weight gain.
That surge and fall in adrenaline also takes a massive toll on your immune system and can leave you feeling exhausted and drained, leading to emotional issues.
We’re not being chased by animal predators these days and our stress is much less physical than physiological, but the effects are the same with many of us experience high levels of stress and cortisol release throughout the day.
So how do you combat this? It might seem cheesy, but you must must must find a way to relax and take time for yourself throughout the day.
Some tricks we find useful are:
- Getting a good night’s sleep. Try going to bed at the same time every night. Training your body when to shut down each night promotes relaxation and helps your body hit REM. That include the weekends; if you’re going to bed at 11pm on the weekdays and 3am on the weekends you’re not getting the benefits.
- Shut your phone off. It’s important to separate your personal and work life and smart phones do not help that. You can’t be available 24/7, no matter how much people expect you to be. Again, pick a time, say 9pm, and shut, It. Off. That means, no Twitter browsing, no Instagram liking, no responding to emails. Telephone use is the exception, but it’s so crucial to be able to shut off for part of the day.
- Read. We ingest information all day every day, but how many of us take the time to sit down and read? Taking even a hour to sit with a cup of tea and a chapter of a book or a magazine article you’ve been wanting to read can make such a difference. Bonus: reading has been proven to strengthen cognitive abilities and sharpen your mind.
3) Get a good night’s sleep
How many hours a night do you sleep? Would it surprise you to know that the 33% of us only get about four to six hours a night?
Sounds about right.
Not getting a good night’s sleep can lead to an array of mental and physical health problems, not to mention the emotional strain it puts on when you’re constantly tired. And contrary to popular opinion, you can’t “catch up” on sleep…so those weekend sleep-ins until noon aren’t doing you any good.
There’s a surprising number of health benefits from a full night’s sleep as well. Aside from the obvious ones like a sharper memory, and better physical performance, proper sleep can also help increase metabolism and decrease your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Night owls also put themselves at greater risk for Type 2 diabetes, inflammation, especially in the digestive tract, and depression.
Getting sleepy yet? Grab a cup of tea before bed tonight, shut your phone and computer off, and get yourself into the habit of going to bed at a reasonable time. And no….do NOT turn on Netflix!
4) Eat Breakfast. Every Day.
This is an oldie but a goodie. Such a basic concept but so many of us skip it in favour of a few more minutes of sleep. Don’t. Get up and eat something!
Wonder why you’re so tired and so hungry at 11am? Why you took two donuts from the communal tray in the office kitchen? It’s not rocket science. You’re hungry and tired because you didn’t eat!
By 3pm, you’ve probably filled your body with the wrong food because you were so hungry, you’re irritated because you’ve fueled yourself with caffeine and sugar, and you’re exhausted because you haven’t given your body the proper nutrients.
“I don’t have time to make breakfast” is not a valid excuse. Even something as quick and simple as a smoothie with protein in the morning can really help to satiate you though those morning meetings and will give you the nutrients and energy you need to focus on you work.
Here’s a list of some great smoothie recipes and snacks to start you off right in the morning. We like to add a scoop of protein or greens to ours. Try it for just one week and see the difference!
5) Get Outside
During the winter months, it’s almost too easy to stay inside. On an average day, most of us go from our bed to our car to the office back to the car and home again. On repeat.
Aside from promoting a sedentary lifestyle, office jobs and long commutes also keep us indoors for extended period of time surrounded by fluorescent lighting and recycled air. Not to mention the dryness and close quarters – which can spread germs.
For those of us with underground parking or attached garages, there are days where we get less than 10 minutes outside.
You need natural sunlight and fresh air to promote good health. Vitamin D is essential to a healthy immune system and has been shown to help fight depression – critical during those long, dark winter months.
Skip the gym session once or twice a week and go for a long walk, or try some outdoor winter sports. The fresh, crisp air will leave you feeling rejuvenated, and, bonus, you’ll sleep like a baby!