About a decade ago, for me, good health meant either being able to perform a certain exercise like bench press, running, etc. If you really want to assess your health, then you need to look at your overall health, which would mean mental, emotional and physical health. Here are 15 best fitness tips for good health – it’s better to start as early as you can, and work on your health.
1. Be active daily for mental health
Prolonged periods of inactivity are often the cause of anger, frustration, lethargy and depression. On the other hand, those who are active regularly experience a better mood, feel more energetic, and overall enjoy a better life.
2. Be active daily for physical health
Being active does not necessarily mean doing a 25km run daily, and nor does it necessarily mean squatting double your bodyweight daily. Even lighter activities like walking, swimming, yoga, playing with kids, cleaning up the house, riding a bicycle, etc are all examples of being active. For most people, intense activities like weight training, sprinting, etc should ideally be kept to about 3-5 times a week, and on the other days, lighter activity is recommended.
3. Strength train and lift heavy
Almost every month there seems to some study that comes out with the finding that strength training, including lifting heavy weights has multiple health benefits. Starting from weight management, increased energy levels, better glucose metabolism, etc there are many reasons why you must strength train. You can strength train by using your own bodyweight and lifting barbells, dumbbell, kettlebell, etc.
4. Do cardio
Now cardio does not necessarily mean doing painfully long and slow activities like distance jogging. It can also be done in a short time with intense activities like sprinting, circuit training, kickboxing, etc. Infact, the intense options seem to provide better results overall, in terms of cardio fitness, improving body composition, increasing growth hormone production, etc.
5. Maintain healthy bodyweight and bodyfat levels
The extra fat increases your chances of getting a heart attack, diabetes, hypertension, etc. Also, I would like to mention that extra bodyweight, even in the form of muscle is not necessarily healthy in the long run. Whether muscle or fat, the extra weight has to be carried around by your joints, and at a later age, that can really start telling on your joint health.
6. Check your BMI
A good way to calculate your ideal bodyweight is to use the BMI calculator. Now I know that a lot of people feel that the BMI is not an accurate way to measure ideal bodyweight, but in my opinion, unless someone has unnaturally huge muscles thanks to steroids, the BMI is a reasonably accurate calculator of one’s ideal bodyweight. Again, it is not necessarily perfect, but is pretty close for most people.
7. Maintain ideal flexibility and mobility levels
Most people in their 20’s have already lost a lot of flexibility that they had when they were 5 years old. So you can only imagine how much tighter they will get when they are in their 40’s and 50’s. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can improve your joint mobility and flexibility levels as long as you work on it. You should be able to touch your toes.
8. Flexibility and mobility workouts
Start your workouts with 10-20 minutes of joint mobility work, and finish your workouts with 5-10 minutes of stretching, and focus more on your tight areas. You can also do mobility and flexibility work on your off days to get in extra activity and improve faster.
9. Eat a balanced diet
Our body relies on a variety of nutrients to function properly, and no matter how much someone might try to convince you that a particular food group needs to be avoided altogether, you will find that eating it, even if in small amounts, is better. For eg: without adequate carbs you will struggle to do intense workouts and perform well. Similarly a diet very high in protein can cause a lot of stress on your kidneys.
10. Eat a balanced diet
I would also suggest that you get your nutrients from a variety of sources. For example, don’t just rely on chicken for your protein, eat fish, eggs, red meat, etc. Each source offers a different mineral and vitamin profile for you to take advantage of. And yes, don’t forget to intake enough water for optimal health.
11. Limit junk food
Let’s face it, we live in a society where we are surrounded by junk food, and trying to resist it all the time, including when we go out with friends and family is likely to drive you nuts. So once in a while your little indulgence will not kill you. In fact, many experts claim that if 80% of your calories are clean, then you can have some fun with the remaining 20%.
12. Limit alcohol
The same goes for alcohol, studies have shown that a glass of wine a day can improve your health. Of course, you can get the same benefits without ever consuming alcohol. But if you do like to have an occasional drink, then go on, have it. I personally would suggest that limit alcohol to no more than three times a week, and that too in a very small amount.
13. Avoid excess stress and emotional negativity
Excess stress and negative emotions can really hurt your health, even if you exercise everyday and eat well all the time. Yes, some amount of stress is required in our lives to function well, and as long as we have emotions, we will also experience frustration, anger, depression, etc in our lives. However, when these negative emotions and stress dominate one’s life, then life becomes a downhill journey.
14. Laugh and smile more often
I know this sounds a little too simple and childish, but somehow a lot of us as adults, often forget to have a good laugh and smile. We become so obsessed with negative emotions that we think that enjoying ourselves and having a good time is almost like a crime. Relax, and try to enjoy life in the company of your friends and family regularly. A good laugh can go a long way to relieve stress, improve mood, and make you healthier.
15. Get 6-9 hours of sleep every night
Our bodies recover and regenerate when we sleep at night. And if you fail to get adequate sleep, then you are inviting multiple problems. Lack of sleep has been shown to cause moodiness, increased cravings for sugary foods, poor hormonal profile, reduced muscle mass, etc.