Swapping treats for a piece of fruit or walking an extra block each day are small, simple changes that could make a huge difference to a person’s health and wellbeing in 2018.
Being healthy is easier said than done but it does not have to be chore, says Kirstan Corben, executive manager of programs at Victorian Health Promotion Foundation in Australia.
“Setting small, realistic goals helps to make them more achievable and less daunting, which means you’re more likely to stick to them.”
HEALTHY HABITS TO EMBRACE IN 2018
1. CUT BACK ON SUGAR
One simple way to avoid excess sugar is to swap sugary drinks for water. Sugary drinks like soft drinks are the largest source of sugars in our diet, and they can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.
2. REDUCE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
It’s all about moderation. Drink water in between alcoholic drinks. Remember, alcohol contains a lot of empty kilojoules.
3. MAKE EXERCISE PART OF THE HOLIDAY
Being active helps us to clear the mind, feel energised and importantly reduces our risk of nasty chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
Try parking the car at the far end of a car park, play a family game of cricket, or do some laps at the local swimming pool.
4. DON’T PASS THE SALT
Salt increases the risk of high blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. To cut back salt, fill up on fresh fruit and vegies and use herbs, garlic and pepper to food flavour.
Buy low salt versions of your favourite foods and where possible cook instead of getting takeaway.
5. STRESS LESS
Stress can impact our physical health, making a person more prone to illness, and it also impacts mental wellbeing. Make time to read a book, go for a run, listen to music or just sit in a park. Activities such as yoga, can also help keep stress at bay.
If you feel like you’re not coping, contact a support service like depression.org.nz.
6. HELP YOUR KIDS DITCH SCREEN TIME
Too much screen time can impact kids’ sleep and reduces the amount of time they spend being active. Swap screens for the great outdoors.
Take the kids to the beach or go for a walk.
7. LOOK OUT FOR EACH OTHER
Social connection is important for strong mental wellbeing but for many people Christmas and the New Year can be a lonely time. Keep an eye on your friends, neighbours and loved ones and offer support when needed.
8. QUIT SMOKING
It’s never too late to quit. Research shows smokers who quit at age 50 halve their risk of death caused by smoking, while quitting by age 30 avoids almost all of the excess risk associated with smoking.