Living a healthy lifestyle involves making healthy choices. On top of choosing not to smoke, drinking alcohol only in moderation and keeping your stress levels low, your diet and exercise regimen is an integral part of maintaining a healthy body and mind. Your diet should include the right combination of carbohydrates, proteins, fats and other nutrients. Similarly, a well-rounded workout routine develops all elements of physical fitness including strength, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness.
At breakfast, do your arteries a favor and avoid the traditional plate of fatty bacon, eggs, sausages, grits and pancakes soaked in syrup. Instead, choose a lighter breakfast that will give you energy to get you through the morning. Your breakfast should ideally include whole grains, low-fat proteins, low-fat dairy products and fruit. A typical meal might be a whole grain bagel with peanut butter or hard-boiled eggs, a low-fat yogurt and a small bowl of fruit.
If you take sandwiches to work for lunch, use whole grain bread with lean meats such as turkey or chicken with salad and a light dressing rather than full fat mayonnaise. If you eat out with colleagues, don't betray your diet. When possible, opt for a salad with a low-fat protein source, such as chicken, and always get the salad dressing on the side. In general, though, avoid eating out, as restaurant food is typically high in fat, salt and sugar.
When you are cooking at home, you have a wealth of methods to prepare healthy food. Include a protein such as fish or meat and at least two vegetables. A healthy dinner could be salmon with brown rice, broccoli and asparagus or a grilled chicken breast with a baked potato and salad. If you eat out, avoid calorie-dense sides such as French fries, loaded mashed potato and salads covered in full fat dressings.
For optimal health, exercise daily. Alternate between cardio and strength workouts, and spend three of your six days focusing on your cardiovascular fitness. Aerobic exercise improves your heart's health by helping to lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease. It also helps you shed pounds, improve stamina and improves your mood through the release of endorphins. Aim for 50-minute sessions at a moderate intensity or 25 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise. Aerobic exercise includes running, walking, bike riding and swimming.
Strength and Flexibility
Your other three days should focus on strength and flexibility. If you are new to resistance training, begin with either low weights or resistance bands. Body-weight exercises are also highly beneficial. The bulk of your resistance workout can consist of just five or six moves. Pushups and pullups work the upper body while squats and lunges work your lower body. For core strength, perform crunches and other exercises on a stability ball. Stretch before and after any workout in order to prevent injury and improve recovery.
- American Council on Exercise: Trimming Off the Fat
- USA Today: Weight-Loss Tips: 25 Ways to Lose Weight, Keep it Off
- American Council on Exercise: 6 Strategies for Losing the Spare Tire
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- American Council on Exercise: Explain Why Warming Up is So Important