Your body is your temple. We know you’ve heard that before and we’re hardly being original, but we can’t stress enough how much we believe that having a healthy body will give you a healthy mind and lead to all sorts of benefits in your life. Not only does having a healthy and fit body give you a strong foundation to base your life on, it also contributes to your emotional wellbeing, ability to concentrate and increased productivity. Here, we’ve put together a list of basic and intermediate health and fitness tips to get you on your way to a healthier and happier life.
1. Increase Your Steps
A simple way to make a big impact to your overall fitness is to increase your daily steps. While it may sound like a huge amount, you should be aiming for a minimum 10,000 steps per day to keep yourself in tip-top shape. To put this in perspective, the average American gets 5,900 steps in per day just doing regular activities. Increasing these steps to 10,000 can not only help reduce blood pressure, it can also help in lowering your blood glucose levels.
While backing for this recommendation isn’t a super scientific formula, the idea is to increase your steps, no matter how many you take per day. Even making small changes like taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator, or parking further away can add up to a lot of steps. To test this, use a pedometer or (some) cellphone to check what you are walking now – then make a goal to add 1000 steps each day. In no time, you will have made it a habit to walk that extra mile.
2. Don’t Forget To Stretch
Stretching is another non-negotiable and basic part of keeping fit. Not only does practicing this regularly keep you moving pain-free, it also brings a whole host of other benefits your body needs.
First of all, it’s best to stretch after you’ve warmed up. If you’re someone who likes to go to the gym, take a 5 minute walk on the treadmill to get your muscles moving, then take a break to stretch them out. Stretching boosts blood flow to the tissues and increases oxygen levels. This helps deliver the nutrients needed to prepare or repair them during or after exercise. Stretching also helps remove metabolic waste that your muscles naturally produce such as carbon dioxide and uric acid.
Sore muscles are inevitable if you lead an active lifestyle, but stretching before and after your workout can help reduce the pain and encourage your muscles to heal faster. And even better news is that the more you work out, the better your body will become at dealing with sore muscles and you will be less likely to have them after every session.
3. Don’t Starve Yourself
Exercise takes a lot out of you and your body needs to be both well nourished and well-prepared. This means eating, and maybe even more than you think. If you want to live an active lifestyle, it’s best to know just how much food you will need to sustain your energy levels.
If you’re a casual walker who likes the occasional hike, an extra dose of protein like a handful of nuts or a well-balanced protein bar may be all you need to keep moving, but if you’re someone who is training for a marathon and running 10km everyday, you’re going to need a lot more.
It’s important not to starve your body for many reasons, but one of the main ones when it comes to fitness (and weight loss or regulation) is that when your body is starving, it’s going to want to eat quick energy release foods – and that means carbs, sugars and salts. Research has shown that people who skip breakfast are more likely to crave high calorie food throughout the day, which is not what you want.
So if you want to stay fit and healthy (or even lose some weight), eating a well-balanced and protein rich diet is the way to go. It will keep you satisfied, keep your body happy and give you the energy you need to keep going.
4. Stay Hydrated
Our bodies are 60-65% water, so it’s no wonder drinking our 8 glasses a day makes big impact on the way we look and feel. Without this water our bodies suffer and you can experience everything from improper digestion to muscle aches and pains as a result.
Not only will water help your body carry out it’s vital daily functions like detoxification and joint lubrication, it can also have a positive effect on your mood, skin and even weight. According to a recent study, drinking 17oz of water per day can increase you metabolism by up to 30%, and another study has shown that drinking high volumes of water can have a drastic effect on the look and feel of your skin, increasing its suppleness and elasticity.
When it comes to moods, water can also play a large role in whether you’re feeling up or down. A study of young women has shown that losing fluid caused a noticeable decrease in mood and concentration. This shows that you may be experiencing a decline in brain function when you are not adequately hydrated. Just another good reason to keep the H2O flowing.
5. Make It Fun
It should be a no-brainer that making activity fun will make you want to do it more often. For most people it’s key to find something active they love to do in order to keep their bodies moving and keep it from feeling like a chore. This could be anything from playing team sports, to swimming to going for a walk in the park with friends. Whatever activity it is that you find fun and gets you moving, you should do more of. Most of the time, the trick lies in finding what you love, but once you get there you’ll be well on your way to a fit and healthy body.
6. You Don’t Need Equipment
Many people are under the misconception that you have to go to a fancy gym or buy expensive equipment in order to get great results, which couldn’t be further from the truth! Many of the best exercises are those in which you use nothing but your own body weight to challenge you muscles and get a great workout.
Using your own body weight not only can help strengthen muscles but it also helps with things like balance and flexibility. A few key exercises that will get your body moving with no need for the gym are classics like crunches, push-ups, squats and burpees. Here’s a list of 50 exercises you can do at home to get a toned body fast.
7. Challenge Yourself
When it comes to losing weight, toning your muscles and getting in shape it’s important to challenge yourself during every single workout. Sure, going on the treadmill for 20 minutes a day is a great addition to your daily routine and kudos for getting off the couch (we know it can be hard!) but if you really want to see some dramatic results you’re going to have to get a bit uncomfortable…and sweaty.
No matter how experienced you are, from beginner to pro, you should strive to do just a little more with every workout. Even going that extra 5 minutes on the treadmill that you thought there was no way you could do or throwing in 10 extra crunches will make all the difference in the long run. Remember, you’re conditioning your body to become better, and nothing gets better without a little challenge.
8. Mix Cardio & Weight Training
Many people think that cardio is the way to lose weight, when the fact is a mix of cardio and weight training will yield the fastest results.
A great way to utilize this technique is by doing intervals of both cardio and strength exercises. When you inject your regular workouts with a shot of something at a high intensity, it kicks your metabolism into overdrive, and keeps it there for a full 24 hours. Since the muscle you are building are going to require more fuel to function, they will burn more calories during your down times, resulting in better weight loss. Adding strength training will further increase your muscle strength and demand even more calories from your body on a daily basis.
By doing a mixture of strength training and cardio, you’re turning your body into a natural fat burning machine that will quickly burn off the calories by feeding the muscles instead of turning into fat.
1.Switch Your Drinks
This is a simple switch that can have a huge impact on your health in a matter of days. If you’re a soda, iced tea, sports drink or latte enthusiast, take a second to think about the number of calories, sugar and salts you are getting in your diet through drinks alone.
Not only do these extra calories have no nutritional value, they can actually even dehydrate your body. Since many of these sugary drinks contain caffeine (a diuretic) the water in your cells is sucked out of your body and into your digestive system where it is disposed of through urine. And trust us, the last thing you want in your body is dehydrated cells.
Simply switching your drinks from juices, sodas and calorie-laden lattes to water for a few days will have a dramatic effect on the way your body looks, feels and functions. If you’re someone who doesn’t necessarily like the taste of water, adding lemons, cucumbers or just about any other fruit will give it a flavour you crave without the calories.
2.Cut Out Sugar
This is probably the toughest, but most beneficial, change you can make for your bodies health and happiness. We’re sure you’ve heard somewhere along the lines that sugar is addicting and can cause a wide variety of health problems like obesity, diabetes and even depression.
Cutting sugar out of (or at least a bit out of) your diet can have a major impact on the way your body functions on a day to day basis. According to recent studies, people on equal calorie diets had better results when the diet was also low in sugar and refined carbs. They burned 325 more calories per day on average, which is nothing to sneeze at! Another study showed that eating a large amount of sugary foods over time reduces our tolerance to insulin, leading to extra fat storage, slow metabolisms and even diabetes.
Sugar consumption can also play a large roll in that 3pm energy slump you feel everyday. Since sugars are broken down quickest by our bodies, the energy only lasts a short period of time, resulting in a crash only a short time later. Replacing sugar with healthy fats, proteins and complex carbs will ensure your energy is extended, you body is healthier and you mind is happier.
3. Switch to Whole Grains
You may have heard once or twice that “carbs are the enemy”. Well, this isn’t the case – at all. Carbs are essential to a healthy diet and keep your body running efficiently and effectively, the trick is you have to know which carbs to choose.
Highly processed carbs like white bread, cake, white pasta and pastries are going to leave you hungry because of their quick digesting molecules. These also lead to cravings since your body has used up it’s fuel so quickly and is starving for more. Switching to whole grain carbohydrates is a great way to increase your nutritional value as well as keep you fuller for longer.
Complex carbs like oats, whole wheat, quinoa, barley and brown rice contain a much slower releasing energy that will keep you feeling satisfied for longer. They also contain a larger amount of fibre which takes the body longer to digest, which essentially kills your cravings. Don’t be afraid to have a healthy sandwich or pasta dish the next time you want something carbo-loaded, simply switch your bread or pasta to whole wheat and you’ll be happy for hours.
4. Pack In The Veggies
Here’s a no-brainer when it comes to getting your body healthier and happier – adding veggies! We’re sure your mother has told you to “finish your veggies to grow up big and strong” and guess what, she wasn’t lying! Veggies are some of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat and oddly enough they are also the lowest in calories.
Eating a ton of veggies is the easiest way to feel satisfied since they contain more volume than they do calories. You can literally eat them until your hearts content and you’ll still have some room for dessert (shh, we didn’t say that!). Nutrition Secrets has a great example where they demonstrate the difference between 100g of Kale vs. 100g of McDonalds French fries. The kale contains 33 cal/100g whereas the fries contain 323 cal/100g. That’s a massive difference in how much you can eat! Not only that, but you’ll be full after eating all that kale but hungry after eating the fries.
They key is to choose veggies that include lots of fibre and water to keep you fuller, longer. The best options for this are leafy greens, broccoli and beans. Pack them into every recipe you make (including a morning smoothie) to feel fuller throughout the whole day.
5. Go Nuts!
Nuts, specifically Almonds, are natures superfood. They are packed with a ton of essential nutrients to need to keep your body healthy like calcium, vitamin E, antioxidants and manganese.
Almonds are also very nutritionally dense, which means that they are an awesome source of energy production. According to Nutrition Secrets, about 20 almonds has more protein than an egg, is filled with manganese, copper, B-vitamins and magnesium. They also contain a large amount of good fats as well as fibre which helps to slow down digestion and curb your cravings.
Since this little bite-sized snack has just about everything you need in a superfood, it also helps aid in weight loss. One study showed that eating almonds lead to an increase in metabolism and a reduced appetite which always leads to slimmer waistlines and a healthier body.
5. Make Friends with Fish
Fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein your body needs to remain fit and healthy as well as repair muscle from your previous workouts. Salmon in particular is a wonderful option since it contains a mega-dose of omega-3 fatty acids which have a profound effect on the hormone leptin, which controls your metabolism and fat burning abilities.
Fish also has lower calories compared to other meats like beef, chicken and pork and contains a host of other beneficial nutrients. Fitting fish into your daily diet is also good for your heart-health since it gives you a good dose of healthy fats. So keep your brain, body and heart healthy by adding fish to your daily routine.
7. Step Away From The Scale
According to a lot of dieticians, personal trainers and nutritionists, health isn’t predicted by the number on the scale.
People come in all different shapes and sizes. What the “right” weight is for your body may not be the same as someone else of a similar height. Every body is different and needs to be treated in a different way, this includes determining what your weight should be.
Another large factor is that muscle weighs more than fat – so if you’re trying to lose fat but are gaining muscle at the same time, you may feel incredibly discouraged when you look at the scale and see no change in the numbers. A better indicator of health and fitness is how your body feels, how your clothes fit and how much your endurance has increased. Don’t be addicted to what the scale says. Instead pay attention to your body, it will tell you how well it’s doing!
8. Stay Away From Fat Free
Many people believe that fat-free is the best option when it comes to losing weight and maintaining health. The fact is, most of your body runs on fat and your body needs it just as much as any other molecule.
Since fat-free products have been stripped of fat, that also means they’ve been stripped of flavour which manufacturers just can’t have. For this reason they are pumped full of sugar and salt to make up for the loss of the fat and are just as (if not more) unhealthy for you than their original counterparts.
Don’t be afraid to cook with butter, use full-fat sour cream and eat full-fat yogurt. They will give your much needed daily fats as well as being reduced in sugar and salt. However this doesn’t mean you can have a free for all with chips and cookies, focus on focusing on healthy fats like avocado, nuts and yogurts to maintain your daily fat allowance.