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10 ways to live a healthier life

There are so many ways to live a healthy life and there are no 10 that fit every person at every stage. But if you really pressed me to give a list, this is what I would put on it.

In random order, here are my top 10:

1. Sleep 7-9 hours per night, every night.

There is just no getting around the fact that your body needs sleep. It's during sleep that our cells recover, repair and rejuvenate. When we consistently short-circuit the process we pay for it physically, mentally and emotionally.

2. Make water your drink of choice.

While there is some debate as to the amount of water you need to drink each day, there is no debate that water should be the main liquid you choose to drink. Water is key in maintaining hydration which keeps us moving, gives us energy, keeps the skin clear and the mind sharp. How much should you drink? Great question. I often encourage my client to drink up to HALF their body weight in ounces per day. So, if you weigh 150 lbs, that's 75 oz. water.

3. Keep your stress levels under control.

Easier said than done, I know. But, when we do things like take a walk, meditate, pray, journal or other calming activity we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is "The part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relax the sphincter muscles. The parasympathetic nervous system, together with the sympathetic nervous system, constitutes the autonomic nervous system." It's pretty darn important, and without taking time each day to slow down, we don't reap its benefits.

4. Eat more veggies.

Daily recommendations are 5-9 servings per day and a serving size is a fist size. So, go ahead, make a fist and visualize that amount of veggies on your plate or in your smoothie. When it comes to veggies, you just can't go wrong. They're packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

5. Eat some fruit every day.

If I've heard it once I've heard it a thousand times, but let me be clear...bananas do NOT make you fat! Eating a piece of fruit is a great way to introduce fiber into your diet which helps keep you regular. Berries are chock-full of antioxidants, citrus is full of Vitamin C, and stone fruit are high in vitamins A and C, fiber and potassium. "A medium apricot, for example, contains approximately 3.5 mg of vitamin C and 674 IU (international units) of vitamin A. So you can get the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, and about 20% of your vitamin C needs with four to five apricots."

Plus, they taste really good, offer you a sweet snack and are amazingly portable.

6. Make meat your side dish.

Finally, an unpopular tip. Notice I didn't say you had to give up meat. But, I am suggesting that you move it to the side of your plate rather than as the main course. If you're concerned about your protein intake, remember that daily recommendations are .8-1.2 g per kilogram of body weight. So, if you weigh 150 lbs (68.8 kg), the daily recommendation of protein for you is 54 - 82.5g of protein.

7. Move your body every day.

This can become the best part of your day and the good news is that it doesn't have to be fancy, expensive or require a gym membership. Moving your body can be as simple as taking a walk each day. Consider riding your bike to work, school, or just around the block. Put on some music and dance around the house. Garden. Mow the lawn or download a fitness app. It just doesn't matter what you do to move your body. It just matters that you do it.

8. Lift something heavy a few times a week.

Again, this doesn't have to be fancy. Bodyweight workouts are available online. Do some squats, some push-ups and a few pull-ups. Hire a trainer to set up a weight workout for you. Just lift something heavy a few times a week and keep it up.

9. Get social.

I'm writing this during the COVID-19 quarantine and the need for social interaction has never been greater. Loneliness is deadly and research supports the fact that we need each other and that those who have a strong social network live longer, happier lives. During the 'stay home, stay safe' order this is very difficult, but not impossible. Use your social networks to stay connected. It's likely the most important thing you can do at this time.

10. Give back.

I truly believe that the happiest, healthiest people are those who have chosen to serve others in a way that brings purpose and meaning to their lives. Whether you choose to volunteer at a food bank, tutor a student, visit an older family member or donate to your local community, find a way to give back. Your health will improve when you do.

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