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Health: Easy Tips to a Healthy Lifestyle

Updated on September 10, 2010

Easy Tips to Stay Healthy

Also known as cheap, common sense things you should be doing!

Americans, in general, lead unhealthy lifestyles, but there are several things you can do to keep your body in great shape. After all, you only get one body, so you'd better take care of it!

photos courtesy of
photos courtesy of

We Are What We Eat:

It's human nature to love fat, sugar, and salt, but in excess these can turn into major problems. Unfortunately, food companies know that fat, sugar, and salt sell. You know like sex and violence sells on TV?

So what should you do? Stay out of the middle of the super market. Processed foods, no matter how healthy they claim to be, are loaded with empty calories, fat, sugar, and salt. You don't need those in your body. Especially not carbonated beverages or cookies.

Instead, shop around the edges. Produce, dairy, and meat are much better for the body. Plus, buying these foods forces you to cook, which stimulates your brain! Or better yet, go to a local farmer's market. This has the benefit of supporting your local economy, getting better quality food, exercise, and socialization!

Just Do It!

Isn't that what the Nike commercial says? The majority of Americans do not exercise enough. For some reason, in American culture, exercise is reserved for the fit, but everyone needs it to keep their body oiled and running smoothly.

What should you do? Set aside at least 30 minutes a day to exercise. Get the family together for an after-dinner bike ride or break out the Wii. Even something as simple as walking for 30 minutes can help prevent Type 2 diabetes and heart disease and osteoporosis.

Make exercise a habit. It takes approximately a month to make an activity a habit, so do not be discouraged or quit. Once it is a habit, it will stick with you! Another tip is to get someone else involved. Community centers are great places to look for cheap class in yoga or Pilates or even zumba. This gives you a specific place and time and a chance to make new friends.

Just 5 More Minutes

Don't you remember those days when you were begging for more sleep? Sleep is essential for the body and mind. Sleep gives your body a chance to slow down and rest and your mind a chance to shut down. Sleep also regulates your biorhythms, such as your metabolism, and lack of sleep has been linked to increased weight gain, hunger, and stress.

What should you do? Get 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Good sleep, where you are not interrupted by pets or kids or spouses. If you need to, invest in some ear plugs and an eye mask. If you have trouble sleeping, try eating a little bit of turkey or a peanut butter sandwich, not a lot, just a little. Or try a hot bath with magnesium salts (Epsom salts). Or, exercise is great for getting ready for bed.

Make it a routine. If you train your body to go to bed at 10 pm every night, then over time, that is when your body will start shutting down.  If possible, go to bed with your spouse or partner. Studies show that couples who go to sleep at the same time strengthen their relationship.

Beef, It's Not What's for Dinner

Red meat is tasty, I think most everyone agrees. Red meat provides amino acids, iron, and zinc for a body, but it also contains large amounts of fat. A body can only process a palm sized serving of red meat, so most of that burger just sits in your colon until the body can pass it through. That's a lot of hard work for your body.

What should you do? Replace red meat with white meat and fish. Even better, replace it with nuts and beans in addition to white meat and fish. This is a simple step and will cut down on that growing waist line and save your bones. Excess protein and fats in red meats has been linked to bone loss, diabetes, and heart disease.

Do not try to cut out all red meat at once. Some people are successful at cold turkey (pun intended!) but most people do better with step-by-step goals. Simple goals like I am going to have chicken today instead of ham or I think I will make this chili without meat are good ways to start. Start with cutting out processed meat, which is full of chemicals and salt. If you just cannot resist that rib eye, choose grass-fed beef. It has less fat and more nutrients.

It Only Takes a Minute

Okay, so you're in a public restroom, washing your hands when a person comes out of the stall next to you and proceeds to the door. They grab the handle and walk out. You open the door with a paper towel but wonder what other doors they touched with their potty hands. Germs are everywhere, not just in bathrooms. Door handles are cesspools. Money is the worst offender of all. You cannot not touch germs.

What should you do? Wash your hands frequently. Soap and hot water can mean the different between being fine and having a flu bug throwing a party in your body. Also, try not to touch your face or your food before washing your hands. Germs love easy entry through your mouth, nose, and eyes... basically areas where your skin does not protect you.

If you do not have access to a faucet, invest in some sanitation wipes or some alcohol based hand sanitizer. Wash your hands even at home and keep your sinks clean. Hand washing is one of the easiest, most effective ways to keep out of the clutches of the flu or cold.

Take Time to Play

As Americans, we lead busy lives. We have our children and our work and our pets. Whoever coined the term lazy Americans has never been a corporate America employee. As a result, we tend to lose a balance of work and play. Play is essential for a healthy mind and body. Everyone needs to unwind or they become too stressed.

What should you do? Budget your time to make sure you have time to do what you like to do. It can be something as simple as setting aside fifteen minutes in the morning to read the comics to something as complex as a weekend camping trip in the mountains. The key is finding a balance.

Reducing stress not only makes you feel better, but it boosts your immune system, your metabolism, and protects against painful diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Instead of reaching for the prescription meds, try some cross stitching or woodworking. Home Depot, Joann's, and many other specialty stores have classes to teach you a new hobby. This keeps the brain active and reduces stress.


Common lore is that if you stay in the sun for more than five seconds you will burn, get skin cancer, and die. So that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I remember spending hours and hours outside as a kid and never burning. That's because my skin built up natural protection over time, which as a cloistered adult, I no longer have. However, a little sunlight can go a long way towards boosting your immune system and keeping healthy bones.

What should you do? Get 15-20 minutes of full sun a day whenever possible. The reason for this is the human body is amazing and MAKES vitamin D out of sunlight. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to repressed immune systems, depression, numerous diseases, and low calcium density in bones.

Do not go out, strip naked, and roast for several hours. Instead, a quick walk around the neighborhood without sunscreen is more than enough. This will give you exercise and vitamin D and a chance to get to know your neighbors. Or, work on your garden or read a book, combine some stress relief with your sun worship.

Tea is Not Water

Neither is soda, coffee, juice, Gatorade, alcohol, or milk. They may have water in them, but your body needs pure water to function correctly. This means that if you have a headache, constipation, dry skin, a lack of energy... you get the point. This list could go on and on if you are not drinking enough water.

What should you do? Drink 8 glasses of water a day. A better gauge would be to drink enough water that you are never thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration and that your body needs more water. A good place to start is asking yourself why don't you drink water in the first place? Chlorine? It's inconvenient? You just don't think about it? It tastes unpleasant?

Once you figure out why you avoid water, fix the problem. If you don't like chlorine, buy bottled water or invest in a faucet filter. If it's inconvenient, invest in a water bottle and carrying case so you have it on-hand. If you don't think about it, make it visible by placing it where you can see it. Think it's bland? Try flavored water or add some lemon or lime juice to it for a little zest. Drinking water cuts empty calories and is the single most important thing you can do to stay healthy.

Good Reasons to Do as I Tell You

AKA Do Yourself a Favor

You'll notice the buzzwords in this article seem to be diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. There is a reason for this. This is because heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States. Heart disease causes more deaths than cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, accidents, diabetes mellitus, and flu/pneumonia combined. The cost of cardiovascular diseases and stroke in the United States in 2009 is estimated to be $475.3 billion! Diabetes costs the system $83 billiona year and is 23% of costs over all. No wonder health care costs are skyrocketing!

All of these tips reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes as well as the flu/pneumonia. So a little monetary and personal cost to yourself, you can save in the long run, and add on a few more good years with your loved ones.


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