Are you up for the challenge?
Living a healthy life is not as hard as it might seem. All you need to do is make a few simple changes to your diet and your daily routine, and you’ll be making a huge difference to your life.
We’ve put together 10 simple steps that you can follow to set you on your way to a healthier tomorrow – you’ll feel stronger, you’ll be reducing your risk of serious illness and you’ll be setting a good example to your mob.
Why not take up the challenge and start making these simple changes today? Your family – and your community – will thank you for it.
1. Get moving
Getting enough exercise is essential for a healthy life. But you don’t need to run marathons or take up body building -all you need is around 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Here are some suggestions:
- Go for a brisk walk to the shops rather than driving;
- If you must drive, park the car further away and walk the extra distance;
- Ride a bike to work or school a couple of days a week;
- Get a group of mates together and start up a walking club;
- If you’re catching the bus, get off a few stops early and walk the rest of the way;
- Take stairs instead of a lift;
- Put your favourite music on while you’re doing the housework and dance along to it.
You don’t even need to do all 30 minutes at once – break your activity down into three 10 minute periods and you’ll still reap the benefits.
2. Get moving together
It’s not just you who needs to be physically active – your family does too.
By encouraging your mob to become more physically active, you’re helping them to prevent heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. They’ll also be reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Take the whole family to the park for a game of footy, walk the family dog together, have a game of backyard cricket or walk the kids to and from school. You’ll not only be improving everyone’s health, you’ll also be spending quality time together and building stronger relationships.
Parents – remember that kids need at least an hour of active play every day.
3. Two and five
Most of us just don’t eat enough fruit and vegies. Experts recommend that we eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegies every day. That might sounds like a lot, until you discover how easy it is to add fruit and veg to your daily diet. Try these:
- At breakfast time, add some sliced fruit to your cereal, some mushrooms and tomato to your toast or grate some apple or pear into a pancake mix;
- Cut up carrot and celery sticks and serve with low-fat dip for a snack;
- Grate or slice some carrot, capsicum and zucchini into a pasta sauce;
- Add a side salad or some peas and corn to your evening meal;
- Blend some banana and strawberries together with skim milk and ice for a smoothie;
- Freeze fruit pieces or puree and freeze fruit into containers for an icy treat; or
- Serve stewed or diced fruit with yoghurt.
Remember – fruit and vegetables can be fresh, canned or frozen. For more tips and info, head to www.gofor2and5.com.au
4. Eat less saturated fat
While we need some fat in our diet, some fats are better than others. Saturated fat, which is found in fast foods, snack foods like chips and cakes, and full-fat dairy products, is the type of fat that raises blood cholesterol levels. High blood cholesterol is one of the main risk factors for heart disease.
By cutting down on saturated fats, and using “good fats” like polyunsaturated or mono-unsaturated fats – olive oil, canola oil, certain margarines and peanut oil – in your cooking, and you will be helping to keep your blood cholesterol low.
5. Eat less salt
A high salt diet can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Cut down on your salt intake by avoiding take-away and snack foods. Try to avoid adding salt to foods when cooking and eating, and don’t keep a salt shaker on the dinner table.
6. Eat less sugar
Eating too much sugar doesn’t just rot your teeth! Foods like soft drinks, lollies, cakes and biscuits have really high sugar content, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. This can lead to a whole host of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
7. Drink more water
While we can last weeks without food, we can last only a few days without water. Water not only helps to maintain essential bodily functions such as regulating body temperature and carrying nutrients and oxygen around the body, we also need water to rid our bodies of waste. In fact, water is needed for pretty much every thing your body does.
Try to drink water when you’re thirsty, rather than sugary soft drinks or fruit juices. Water has zero calories, no sugar and no fat, so you can enjoy it with a clear conscience!
8. Cut down on the grog
Too much alcohol doesn’t just contribute to weight gain. Drinking too much can put you at risk of heart problems, liver and kidney disease, some kinds of cancer, stroke, stomach problems and nerve problems.
Alcohol misuse can also contribute to mental health problems, as well and violence in our homes and our communities. Try to have no more than two drinks a day, and make sure you have a few alcohol-free days every week.
9. Ditch the durries
We all know it’s true – cigarettes are poison. They damage your lungs and reduce your fitness, they can cause all kinds of horrible diseases including cancer, stroke and heart disease, and they put people around you at risk of health problems.
So no more excuses – ditch the durries today. Call the Quitline on 131 848 or head to www.quit.org.au (link to open)
10. See your doctor for regular check-ups
It’s important that you see your doctor regularly, even if you’re feeling well. Having a regular health check-up with your GP or local AMS can help to detect illness at an early stage or – better yet – stop illness from happening in the first place.