World Health Day is celebrated annually on the 7th April, the day that the World Health Organisation (WHO) was founded in 1948, and each year, WHO aims to draw attention to a specific health topic for people all over the world. This year, WHO will focus on actions needed to keep humans and the planet healthy, in order to help foster a movement to create societies focused on well-being. You can find out more here.
Staying in good health is important to all of us, and to mark World Health Day we have put together our top five tips to help change your health for the better. Rather than make drastic changes or take on extreme diets, aim for small achievable health goals each week like the ones included below, and you’ll soon start to notice sustainable benefits.
Tip One: Get Active
Exercise offers so many health benefits, both physical and mental. Just something as simple as a brisk walk for half an hour a day dramatically reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and several forms of cancer. Regular exercise during our lifetime is also said to improve brain function, allowing us to be active and independent in our later years. Plus, exercising can have a powerful impact on your mental wellness - physical activity is proven to improve self-esteem.
Getting active doesn’t mean that you need to spend hours in the gym and it’s important to find a type of exercise that you enjoy. Slower paced activities, such as walking can provide a good level of exercise which can lift your mood. Whether you have five minutes or an hour, set aside time to allow yourself to be active. There are a number of free apps you can use to get you started and track your improvement, as well as many classes you can explore, from dancing to aqua aerobics.
Tip Two: Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
One of the simplest ways to improve health is to eat more fruit and vegetables - the more colourful your plate, the more nutritious the food you're eating. It’s also important to eat a good variety of different fruits and vegetables to make the most of the health benefits they contain. For example, if you're trying to cut back on sugar, try blueberries and raspberries which are lower in fructose but are full of powerful phytonutrients. Search for foods packed with Lycopene such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and red tomatoes – Lycopene is great for helping to protect you from heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure.
Tip Three: Prioritise Good Quality Sleep
A lack of sleep at night can make you feel in a bad mood the next day, and over time, skimping on sleep can mess up more than just your morning mood. Studies show getting quality sleep on a regular basis can help improve all sorts of issues, from your blood sugar to improved exercise and healthier eating habits.
Besides robbing you of energy, lack of sleep saps your motivation to get active and research also shows that sleep deprivation can lead to people craving higher energy foods and sometimes consuming more than 400 additional calories over the course of a day. Healthy adults need between six and nine hours of sleep a day. If you have trouble nodding off, try to avoid screens and caffeine one to two hours before bed – both act as stimulants to stop us feeling sleepy.
Tip Four: Drink More Water
Our bodies are made up of approximately 60 percent water, essential for flushing out toxins. Being just 1% dehydrated can impair our ability to concentrate, but sometimes when we’re busy, forgetting to drink enough and then becoming just slightly dehydrated is easily done. Make sure you keep a reusable water bottle with you to keep topped up and drink regularly - your urine should be the colour of pale straw throughout the day.
Staying hydrated can help the blood pump more efficiently and can also lead to suffering from less aches and pains after exercise. Because our kidneys play a vital role in regulating blood pressure, keeping hydrated and monitoring your sodium intake could reduce high blood pressure significantly. Many people confuse thirst pangs with hunger pangs so often just drinking a glass of water whenever you are hungry can help to control food cravings.
Tip Five: Smile and Laugh More!
This is one of the simplest, yet more powerful changes you can make to improve your physical and your mental health. When we laugh, we breathe deeper and take in more air, which stimulates our heart, lungs and muscles. It also increases endorphins released by our brains, which positively influence our physiology and mood – automatically placing us into a better, happier state. Try to find ways to inject more laughter into your days – from meeting a friend for a walk to getting involved in a charity initiative. Sometimes, laughter really can be the best medicine!