Small changes can improve health

(ARA) – Health experts say that making small changes to your lifestyle is the most effective way to achieve long-term good health. Rather than taking on big goals that are difficult to reach and often result in frustration, integrating slight but key adjustments into a daily routine can create lasting improvements in fitness and well-being.

‘What many people don’t realize is that they don’t have to completely overhaul their lifestyle to see the benefits of change. There is a greater chance of success if adjustments — such as increasing exercise and changing how you eat — are made slowly,’ says Dr. Liz Applegate, a nationally recognized expert on nutrition and fitness, and the director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis.

Here are some ideas on how to help improve your health with small changes that will have an impact:

* Take a few 10-minute breaks throughout the day. If possible, take a short walk outside or to the other side of your office building. It will clear your head and help to improve your metabolism, get the blood flowing and rejuvenate you during the workday.

* Stay hydrated. The body need to be fully hydrated in order to maintain a healthy metabolism. Try drinking about ½-ounce of water per pound of body weight every day.

* Take time to laugh. Studies show that deep laughter can greatly benefit our health by lowering levels of stress hormones, relaxing muscles and reducing anxiety. Take a break during the day to check out an entertaining Web site or unwind before bedtime with your favorite late night show.

* Cut restaurant meals in half. The portion size at restaurants has increased during the last decade and eating out can be a big factor in weight gain. Split your entrée with your dining partner or divide your serving in half and take it home for lunch the next day.

* Eat foods that are colorful. Healthy foods are usually those that have vibrant colors such as red and yellow peppers, blueberries, cantaloupe or spinach. By incorporating a variety of colors into your diet at home and while eating out, you are more likely to get your recommended daily nutrients.

* Incorporate moderate exercise into your routine. Studies have shown that moderate exercise such as walking for 30 minutes a day, five or more days a week, can improve your cardiovascular fitness. You will see even greater benefits if you increase the mileage, walk up an incline, or jog.

‘Just remember to keep your goals realistic at the beginning. Once you start feeling the benefits, you’ll want to incorporate even more healthy habits,’ says Applegate.

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