In the words of the Hamilton musical: “the world turned upside down.”
Since the rise of coronavirus, we’re having to be more vigilant with our health than ever. (All together now: hands, face, space!)
The bad news is, US experts are predicting that the pandemic won’t end for at least another 18 months. Therefore, we need to continue to exercise care and caution in every aspect of our lives.
Speaking of, there are some simple ways you can do exactly that. Here’s how to improve physical health and wellness, which will also keep you feeling mentally strong until all of this is over. Let’s do this!
1. Eat Fresh Produce
How to improve physical health and wellness 101: eat lots of fresh produce.
The wonderful thing about winter is that the supermarkets have more dense root veggies, fresh greens and superior-quality protein.
Do you know what this means? That’s right, girl — it’s time to step away from the packaged salad and load up on seasonal local foods.
In particular, get your fix of kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. These low-calorie veggies contain a ton of fibre. Therefore, they maintain your energy levels and keep you feeling fuller for longer. Win-win.
2. Avoid Food Intolerances
Are you currently experiencing gut problems? I’m talking about cramping, bloating, nausea, abdominal pain and acid reflux, to name a few!
If so, you might need to take a step back and assess your diet. Pesky food intolerances are often responsible for these symptoms.
I know because I was once in the same boat. Until I did an intolerance test in 2017 and found out that cow’s milk, multiple types of meat and wheat were the main culprits, my body suffered after every time I ate.
I had brain fog, felt sluggish and got really bad stomach pain and bloating.
Luckily, I started to cut out my food intolerances from my diet and I’ve never felt better. You might need to do the same.
3. Eat the Right Foods Every Day
Since I learned about my food intolerances, I’ve been so much more health-conscious.
It made me be more mindful about what I put in my body. After all, our bodies are good to us. They get us up in the morning and get us where we need to be. They allow us to give birth. And they keep us alive.
We need to look after our bodies.
Consider adapting your diet so that you’re consuming the following food groups in moderation on the daily:
- Fresh fruits and veggies, which are full of nutrients and will detoxify your system
- Lean protein, which stimulates your metabolism, stabilises your blood sugar and feeds lean muscle tissue
- Moderate natural fats, such as avocados, nuts and fatty fish, which protect your organs, repair your cell walls and regulate your body temperature
- Starchy carbs, such as potatoes and oatmeal, which are an important source of energy, nutrients and fibre
- Enzymatic snacks, such as seeds, papaya and pineapple, which promote healthy digestion
You should also reduce the amount of processed, high-fat and high-sugar foods you eat.
Why? Well, because they encourage your body to crave more of them. It’s an endless cycle that can ultimately result in unnecessary calories and weight gain.
4. Drink Plenty of Water
Did you know that we often mistake dehydration for hunger? This can have us reaching for the biscuit tin when a great big glass of water could easily satisfy our craving.
In fact, drinking plenty of water is essential in terms of how to improve physical health and wellness. It:
- Aids your body in digestion
- Regulates your bowel movements
- Flushes toxins from your body via urine and faeces
And it also keeps your skin moisturised from the inside out.
The general consensus is to opt for eight 8-ounce glasses a day (about half a gallon) known as the 8×8 method. That said, you may have to bump up this number depending on your body composition or activity level.
5. Do Regular HIIT Workouts
Speaking of activity levels, you need to keep your body moving. According to WebMD, sitting for long periods of time is not ideal for your posture, heart, life span and mental health.
You can combat this with regular cardio workouts, such as HIIT or LISS.
HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. In principle, it involves alternating between short work and rest periods. However, the work periods are high-energy exercise at up to 95% of your max heart rate.
For example, you could sprint on a treadmill as fast as you can for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds and then sprint again.
You could also do circuit or Tabata training.
FYI, I recently started doing HIIT workouts and I’ve noticeably slimmed down, toned up and had more energy. To put it simply: they really do work!
6. Do Frequent LISS Workouts
On the other hand, LISS stands for Low-Intensity Steady State (or Low-Intensity Sustained State). It’s all about exercising at a low-intensity for a 30-60 minute period to help you maintain a moderate heart rate of 40-60%.
Popular LISS workouts include dancing, jogging, aerobics, swimming and rowing.
But the truth is, both HIIT and LISS will improve your physical fitness as long as you’re exercising for at least 150 minutes per week.
(It’s time to do some workout maths!)
7. Do Resistance Training
Another method of how to improve physical health and wellness? Resistance training (also known as strength or weight training).
This type of exercise uses resistance to muscular contraction as a way of developing muscle endurance, power and size. It can be done in one of three ways:
- Lifting weights
- Using gym machines
- Using your own body weight through push ups, sit-ups, squats and lunges
Either way, resistance training should be progressive in nature and engage all the major muscle groups.
Beginners are advised to do one set of eight to 12 exercises two to three days per week to grow physically stronger.
8. Catch Up On Your Sleep
Colder days are the perfect excuse to catch up on some zzzs. After all, poor sleep has a terrible effect on your mood and wellbeing. It:
- Wreaks havoc with your emotions
- Disrupts your metabolism
- Encourages late-night cravings
- Reduces your energy levels
- Reduces your motivation levels
It also affects your body’s ability to repair itself. (This is the reason why the advice is to “sleep yourself better” when you’re feeling ill!)
Therefore, try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day to ensure you’re getting at least seven hours of good-quality sleep.
9. Avoid Harmful Habits
One of the secrets of how to improve physical health and wellness is to eliminate any unhealthy lifestyle habits.
(I’m talking about smoking and excessive drinking, in particular.)
Alongside affecting your moods, these harmful behaviours can impact your physical health.
According to the NHS, consuming too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and an increased risk of stroke, cancer and brain damage. Then the risks of smoking include cancer, stroke, heart disease, lung diseases and diabetes.
These unhealthy behaviours also have a habit of showing on your skin, which can accelerate the signs of ageing and stress. I know, not cool!
10. Reduce Your Stress Levels
Lastly, high levels of anxiety and stress are detrimental to your whole body and mind. They can impact your sleep, moods and overall wellbeing.
And because physical health goes hand in hand with mental health, stress can also show these physical symptoms, according to Health Line:
- Recurrent sickness
- Chronic pain
- Decrease in energy
- Appetite changes
You can manage stress by doing the following:
- Eat well
- Sleep well
- Work out and stay active
- Spend time in nature
- Meditate and practise deep breathing exercises
- Pamper yourself
- Cuddle a pet
- Have a digital detox and limit the time you’re on social media
Either way, don’t just live to work. Work to live. And have plenty of playtime in between.
How to Improve Physical Health and Wellness: The Takeaway
Even though these steps take commitment, it’s worth it.
I mean, if there’s anything that the last few months have taught me, it’s this… If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.
Make your physical and mental health your main priority and you can significantly boost your everyday happiness.
Here’s to living your best life!
Comment below with your top tip when it comes to how to improve physical health and wellness. Stay safe, guys!
Katie Davies is the Yorkshire-based freelance writer who founded Trendy Tourist. Since 2017, she has written for over 100 companies on a range of subjects, from fashion to marketing. When she’s not producing content, you can find her shopping, exploring a new place or sitting somewhere having a cup of builder’s tea.