When it comes to overall health and wellness, sometimes a back-to-the-basics approach is the best place to start. Taking some positive steps to ensure a healthy heart, strong bones, a positive outlook, and nutritious diet are vital… and here are some great ways to get started!
#1: It Starts with Your Feet
Your mom was right – again. Wearing comfortable shoes might really be the key to happiness – or at least to happy exercising. A properly-sized and well-fitting walking or running shoe will protect your body from unnecessary stress while supporting your focus on optimal health.
- Buy from an expert. A store that specializes in women’s athletic shoes will have both the quality of shoe that you need and well-trained staff to help you choose it.
- The price might not matter. Research shows that low- to mid-priced shoes did just as well providing cushioning and support compared with pricier shoe options, and one study concluded that there was no correlation between price and how well a shoe functioned.
- Replace them often. Even the best-made shoes wear out over time. Depending on how often you’re in them, you may opt to replace your favorite pair every six months to ensure that your body is always well supported in your quest for better health.
#2: Good Bones
Your skeleton works hard every day to hold your head high and keep your insides safe. However, bones can deteriorate over time, and stress, disease and even unfortunate genetics can cause them to become brittle. You can protect your bones from premature decline by eating properly and maintaining their strength with regular exercise.
- Check your hormones. Both estrogen and testosterone contribute to bone strength, so the aging process that reduces those hormones can also increase the risk of bone decline. Ask your doctor if your aging body needs supplements to make up for decreasing bone strength and density.
- Quit smoking. Many smokers don’t understand the connection between smoking and bone health. Smoking has an adverse effect on the bone-building cells inside the bone marrow; stopping also stops that interference with healthy bone growth.
- Calcium and vitamin D. Both nutrients contribute to bone health, supporting the marrow that continually replaces bone as it ages. Dairy sources are better than pills, but a daily vitamin D supplement will make up for rainy days that prevent exposure to the sun (the other source of vitamin D). Not insignificantly, weight-bearing exercise will help your bones maintain their strength better than anything else to get out for a walk on a regular basis.
#3: You Are What You Eat. Really.
Many women link the word “diet” with menu restrictions and deprivation. The truth is that your diet is simply the food you eat, and making it healthy and tasty will also keep you healthy and happy. Today’s nutrition experts have debunked the old rule that all fat is bad (finally!) and now recommend a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats on a regular basis. You’ll find those in a Mediterranean-style diet that includes fish, nuts and olive oil. In addition, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein offer plenty of tasty options that won’t leave you feeling deprived. Just don’t add extra salt or sugar — those will (probably) always be no-nos.
#4: Show Yourself Some Love.
Women’s hearts deal with stress differently than that of men, and many of the heart health recommendations for men don’t apply to women. Accordingly, more study is being done on women’s heart health to ensure that the other half of the population enjoys a healthy ticker for as long as possible. What we do know is that excess weight contributes to heart woes, so anything that helps to reduce your weight will also benefit your heart. The foods listed above are all included in a heart-healthy diet, with salmon being a highly recommended source of fish protein and added green leafy vegetables to round out the menu. Exercise is also on your heart-healthy list of things to do. Those cool shoes that you bought are perfect for helping you keep your heart rate elevated just a bit for just a few minutes a day. This is the recommended practice for women who want to keep their heart happily pumping. Also note that smoking is a leading cause of heart disease in women, and giving up that habit is also one of the best things you can do for your heart.
#5: Get Inside Your Mind.
Mindfulness is all the rage on health and wellness sites, and there’s a good reason for that: A mindfulness practice is proven to reduce stress, decrease depression and support a healthy lifestyle. Mindfulness is the state of being aware of how you feel at any given moment and, when possible, changing negative feelings to positive ones to improve one’s mood and sense of well-being. While meditation is often suggested, those women who practice gratitude on a regular basis – looking for and acknowledging aspects of life for which they are grateful – gain mental health benefits, too.
Your body works hard to support your happy life. Reward it by feeding it well, playing a lot, and appreciating all the benefits it brings you!