When it comes to healthy-living habits, it’s no secret most of us could be doing a lot better. The fact is, we have to do better. According to a new survey of more than 77,000 Americans by the centers for disease control and prevention, six in 10 adults are overweight or obese, 20% of Americans smoke, and a full third don’t engage in even one leisure-time physical activity.
If you see yourself in these statistics, know that even small changes can make a big difference in your health and how you feel.
So why not get started on these healthy tips right away to improve your health for a happier life?
- Believe you can.
It may sound like a simplistic mantra fit for a bumper sticker, but it’s the perfect place to start.
After all, optimism is just the expectation that good things will happen in the future-and they will.
What’s so special about optimism? Our outlook affects our brain activity, our decisions and our daily habits.
Not born optimist? Even small adjustments in attitude make a difference. One of the best ways to build hopefulness and confidence is to simply remember past success.
- Sleep your way slimmer to improve your health for a happier life
Believe it or not, lying in bed for 8 hours can help you lose weight. When your body catches zzz’s and recharges, so does your pancreas, the organ that calibrates insulin output, which affects weight.
In one recent study where healthy people slept an average of only four hours a night for 6 days, their metabolic profiles changed to look like older people with pre-diabetes. In that study a tired pancreas couldn’t do its job well without adequate rest, ultimately resulting in a 8% drop in metabolism, a dip that could translate into 10 pounds of weight gain a year.
The pancreas along with the stomach also makes ghrelin, our hunger hormone and studies show that sleep deprivation spikes levels of ghrelin. The feeling that you’re always hungry after a bad night of sleep it’s real.
- Wake up to a leaner diet.
Even if you clock 8 hours of sleep a night, you might still feel drowsy if your daily diet looks like Burger King drive-through menu.
A bonus benefit of eating lighter fare to improve your health for a happier life: Fat has more calories per gram than either protein or carbs, so you will lower your calorie intake and slim down as well.
Refined carbs such as white-flour crackers, white pasta and anything sugary will spike blood sugar levels and then cause you crush and burn.
- Improve your health for a happier life by stopping the train of runaway thoughts.
Stress is part of life, but if it’s not managed, it can wreak havoc on your body and mental state. Don’t worry about things that may not even be true or might never come to pass. These figments of our imagination are called “cognitive distortions” and they can pop up anytime, anywhere.
When you recognize your mind is driving these thoughts stop, breathe and ask yourself what you know to be true.
- Hangout with a buddy.
Research finds that when you have a friend by your side during a stressful time, there is a drop in cardiovascular reactivity. If you’re not a very social person, consider adopting a pet, which can confer the same healthy benefits as a human sidekick.
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