Why wait till New Years to make healthy resolutions when winter doldrums inevitably leave you dragging your heels? Instead, let the feel-good summer season motivate you. Stepping into a health path during the summer months, with an abundance of fresh air and sunlight, can be a snap with these five easy resolutions.
- Resolve to eat one cup of raw leafy greens daily. Not only do leafy greens provide a perfect dietary fibre boost, but your heart will also thank you for it. Rich in nitrates, leafy greens like romaine, spinach, cabbage, arugula, Swiss chard, kale and other lettuces may slash heart disease risk by up to 26 per cent, according to researchers from Edith Cowan University in Australia. Eating half a cup of cooked nitrate-rich vegetables daily delivers the same heart healthy benefits as one cup of raw greens, researchers say. Serve up a salad at the dinner table daily for an easy way to get your greens.
- Resolve to move your body every day. Every body needs moderate to vigorous physical activity to maintain health – and no, knitting doesn’t count. If 20 minutes a day, which is the recommended exercise prescription to help ward of chronic illness, sounds like a stretch, try exercise snacking. Break down moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity into 10-minute or even five-minute sessions a couple of times a day. Or, make it even more manageable by rebounding two minutes every morning; just move. Two minutes of rebounding stimulates millions of one-way valves in the lymphatic system, flushing the lymphatic system. Think of the lymphatic system as your body’s own vacuum cleaner, taking out the trash. When the lymphatic system is congested, it impedes the body’s ability to remove waste material, and disease can ensue. Rebounding oxygenates the tissues to help prevent disease, improves circulation, strength and balance, as well as increases growth hormone for tissue repair and regeneration, not to mention stimulates the release of feel-good hormones endorphins to uplift and energize. Plus, anyone is able to rebound, on a quality rebounder. True rebounders are made to absorb the impact of each bounce, creating the right resistance, without risking injury. If physical movement is a challenge, know that your feet don’t even need to leave the rebounder mat to benefit. A stabilizing bar is also available for you to hold onto while exercising. Only 16 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 to 79 actually meet the daily physical activity guidelines for health maintenance, according to StatsCan. Are you one of them?
- Guzzle at least one cup of water upon rising in the morning. In Japan, it’s a common practice to drink two cups of water immediately upon rising, to help prevent, and they claim treat, chronic disease. If you’re already drinking one cup upon rising, go for a second. All the organs and tissues in your body rely on water in order to function. Reaching for that morning cup of water before the morning java rehydrates the body, promotes regularity, improves mental clarity and helps boost energy levels. It’s one of the easiest health habits to fall into.
- Step outdoors for a daily dose of fresh air. Seriously. The simple act of stepping outside to take a few deep breaths in fresh air oxygenates cells, causing blood vessels in lungs to dilate, helping to cleanse and repair tissue, while at the same time easing the workload on the heart, while energizing your body and uplifting your mood. Cells require oxygen to function. Fresh air is chock full of oxygen. Get some.
- Let the sun shine on you, daily, without sunblock, for about 20 minutes a day. Sunlight is good heart medicine and stroke prevention, studies show, not to mention a vitamin D immune system booster. Get sun smart by using common sense while outdoors. Avoiding excess sunlight exposure helps prevent skin cancer, but not being exposed to sunlight at all may increase the risk of heart disease, according to researchers at the University of Southampton. Just by exposing your skin to sunlight, nitric oxide transfers from the skin to the blood, decreasing blood vessel tone, which helps lower blood pressure, according to a study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
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