Follow these expert guidelines on diet, exercise and socialization to boost your wellness.
Brian T. Horowitz 1 / 11
When it comes to achieving overall well-being, you need to balance many key aspects of health, including diet, exercise, sleep, professional care and socialization. Even just remembering to smile is a way to stay healthy and keep your blood pressure down, notes Dr. Steven Lamm, director of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Men’s Health at New York University Langone Medical Center, and author of No Guts, No Glory: Gut Solution—The Core of Your Total Wellness Plan.Here are 10 rules to keep in mind when striving for healthy living.
1. You Need a Doctor Focused on Wellness
“Get a doctor that meets your personal needs and understands the difference between treating an illness and helping and guiding you through the wellness process,” advises Lamm.10 Questions Dudes Forget to Ask Their Doctor>>>You need to find a doctor who will be interested in the steps you’ve taken to prepare for an exam, rather than simply treat a respiratory infection or draw blood for an annual checkup, says Lamm.
2. Food Should Be a Nutrient, Not a Drug
“Think of your body as a Ferrari. You want to put in the best fuel you can at least 80–90 percent of the time,” says Lamm.People often use food as an antidepressant and choose treats with little nutrient value that they think will make them feel better, notes Lamm.The Best Foods You Can Eat Before a Workout>>>Foods containing high-fructose corn syrup as well as sugar, fat and taste enhancers can lead to behavioral reactions similar to those caused by drugs such as cocaine, reveals a 2013 study by Francesco Leri, associate professor of neuroscience and applied cognitive science at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, Canada.
3. Sleep Is as Critical as Food and Water
“If you cannot sleep, you cannot be well,” says Lamm.Failing to get a good night’s sleep can disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm, which regulates blood pressure and hormones, he notes.10 Ways to Get Better Sleep>>>Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining properly functioning memory and sexual performance as well as avoiding weight gain, says Lamm.
4. Your Mind and Brain Need a Breather
Taking a few moments out of the daily grind is essential to reduce stress, which makes you vulnerable to illness.Ways to give your mind and brain a “time-out” include breathing exercises and meditation, suggests Dr. Gregory Lewis Fricchione, director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.5 Reasons to Start Meditating Now>>>You can elicit a “relaxation response” by performing diaphragmatic breathing, in which you hold your breath for a second, then slowly exhale through the mouth while focusing on a word or phrase, notes Fricchione.
5. An Exercise Regimen Should Be Balanced
Your regular exercise routine should include a mixture of muscle building, stretching and aerobics, which provides cardiovascular conditioning, says Lamm.The Best of Both Worlds Workout>>>The Mayo Clinic recommends that a workout regimen have five elements: aerobic fitness, strength training, core exercises, balance training, and flexibility and stretching.
6. Recovery Is as Important as Exercise Itself
During exercise, recovery is an essential component that enables the body to adapt to the stress created by exercise, helps restore muscle glycogen and allows for repair of body tissue.6 Ways to Recover Faster from Your Workouts>>>“If you don’t recover, your pulse rate is going to go up every morning instead of down, and then you’ve got a problem,” says Lamm.Combining high-intensity activity with recovery, or low-intensity periods, proved effective for cyclists in a study at the University of Stirling, in Scotland.
7. Keep Your Waist Size Slim
Waist circumference can give you a better indicator of obesity more so than body weight, according to Lamm. “If you can keep your waist below 34, you’re probably in pretty good shape,” he says.25 Ways to Lose Fat Faster>>>A waist circumference over 34 means “you’re starting to build enough fat that puts you in danger of developing diabetes, heart disease or cancer,” notes Lamm.
8. Be Social
Social people are predisposed to better health, according to Fricchione.“There are health benefits to being prosocial as opposed to focusing socially on the self,” he notes. Social support and expressing love can improve overall resiliency, “and your capacity to give social support also has a tendency to feed back to you and pay dividends to your own health,” notes Fricchione.
9. Keep Attainable, Realistic Goals
Mix in some reality into your training plans as well as your aspirations for healthy living, advises Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, founder of the University of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute and author of Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work.6 Steps to a Successful New Routine>>>“Setting goals that aren’t attainable is a recipe for disappointment,” Freedhoff says.When setting up a diet or exercise regimen, striving for an A+ rather than a B isn’t the best option, he notes.“Getting a B+ is pretty damn good in healthy living,” says Freedhoff.
10. Think Long Term, Not Short
“It doesn’t matter about your weight or fitness a month from now or two months from now; it matters a year or two from now,” says Freedhoff.Long-term health is more important than setting an arbitrary weight-loss goal for two months from now, according to Freedhoff.“People take these really short-term outlooks,” he notes. “They try hard and then quit.”