I know we think of New Year’s as a time to make a fresh start, but in reality summer is an even better time to resolve to improve your health. The weather’s warm, the days are long, and we’re in a lull between holidays—with fewer temptations to overeat.
I’ve seen on other blogs where people have created a to-do list of things they want to achieve this summer. So I thought I would suggest my own list of things you can try and do to improve your health before fall arrives.
- Wear a Pedometer: Studies show people who wear a pedometer (a small electronic device that tracks the number of steps you take) walk more! That’s definitely been the case here at the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Every new patient who comes through our door gets a pedometer—and we encourage them to walk as much as they can. You can pick up a pedometer at most drugstores or sporting goods outlets. For optimal health, you want to work up to about 10,000 steps a day.
- Follow Each Meal with a Walk: You get the most “bang for your step” by walking after meals. That’s because in addition to burning calories, an after-meal walk helps you digest your food and boosts your metabolism. Try to follow each meal with a 10-minute walk.
- Eat Your Way to Better Health: You’d be surprised at the difference simple dietary changes can make in your health. First, eliminate sugar and white flour, which can wreak havoc with your blood sugar levels and contribute to weight gain. Second, avoid trans-fatty acids, deep-fried foods, and anything made with hydrogenated oils—all of which raise your risk of heart disease. You’ll also want to limit your intake of saturated fats such as red meat and dairy. Finally, make fiber-rich plant foods the center of your diet—aiming for a variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
- Prevent Disease with Healthy Fats: Most people eat too many fats that can cause disease and not enough of the omega-3 essential fats that can prevent disease. To increase your omega-3 intake, eat salmon or other cold-water fish several times a week. Flaxseed and fish oil capsules are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Increase Your Water Intake: Here at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, we encourage our patients to drink 64 ounces of pure, clean water each day. In addition to filling a pitcher at the beginning of the day and keeping it close by, try bringing a water bottle with you throughout the day or keep one in the car, at your desk, by your favorite chair, etc., so you can stay hydrated all day long.
- Find Opportunities to Keep Learning: Mental stimulation such as reading, writing, and playing games can help maintain cognitive ability throughout life. Check your local paper for lectures that sound interesting, or seek out classes through a nearby community college or your parks and recreation department. It’s also important to get out and socialize. Family, friends, volunteer work, religious ties, even pets—anything that keeps you involved with others enhances health and prolongs life.
Now it’s your turn: Do you have any items to add to your summer to-do list?