These easy health changes for busy women aren’t about weight loss, running or training for a triathlon. They’re about making a few tiny tweaks to your regular routine that will help you feel better for life.
We all want to be healthier and know what we should be doing, but sometimes it’s just too hard. That’s why so many of us gradually become more unfit and unhealthy over time. Especially as we age.
Then, when our clothes start getting tight and our breath getting short, we get tempted by rigorous eating programs or fitness challenges which may help us lose weight in the short term but aren’t sustainable for life.
These days I count myself as super fit and my Garmin Fenix 5s fitness tracker confirms my fitness age is that of a 20-year-old, or in the top 10% for women my age. Which is 49 years young in case you’re wondering.
My fitness journey has been very slow, founded as it is on 27 years of walking! But I got there in the end and you can too. Here are a few ideas to help you get improve your health or ramp it up.
I’ll go out on a limb here too and put them in order of importance.
1. Sleep More – by turning off ALL electronics an hour before bedtime
It’s been repeatedly proven that not getting enough sleep causes both mental and physical health issues. Studies show that lack of sleep can contribute to depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, weight gain and reduced immunity. Which means if you’re not getting enough sleep you’re more likely to succumb to bugs like colds and flu.
I’ve written a whole post about how to sleep but the easiest way to ensure you get your full eight-hour quota is to work out what time you need to go to bed based on what time you have to get up. Then add an extra 30 minutes to allow for reading time and last minute routines. Finally, stop using electronic items one full hour before bedtime.
So, for example, if you have to get up at 7 am you need to be asleep at 11 pm to get eight hours shut-eye. Therefore you need to be in bed, or close to it, at 10.30 pm. Which means you have to turn off all those electronic items which artificially keep us awake at 9.30pm.
That means strictly no computer work, no playing on the cell phone and no television after 9.30pm.
Only by strictly enforcing this rule can I get close to the eight hours sleep I need each night to keep me operating at peak form mentally and physically.
2. Stay Better Hydrated – by sipping slowly throughout the day
We all know we should be drinking about 2 litres (68 ounces) of water per day. Staying well hydrated helps us feel more energetic and perform better mentally and physically.
I’ve been fairly good at chugging liquids in vast quantities but only recently did I realise that it’s better to sip drinks constantly throughout the day rather than glug eight drinks quickly.
It’s an easy change to make and one that requires no extra time.
I admit I don’t stick to drinking water either as I find plain tap water boring. I drink herbal tea, iced herbal tea when it’s hot, or sparkling water made with a Soda Stream machine from filtered tap water.
Now I’m conscious of keeping a mug or glass or liquids on my desk or kitchen counter all day so I drink regularly instead of gulping liquids.
Drinking slowly and regularly give your body time to absorb the hydration into your muscles and makes a big difference to mental and physical performance.
3. Eat Better – go vegetarian for a day, a meal or more
The easiest way to get more nutrients and eat better is to eat more fruit and vegetables, and the easiest way to achieve that is by reducing your meat intake.
Apart from being more environmentally friendly, eating less meat is better for you.
I eat a predominantly vegetarian diet, including meat or seafood about four times a week but not daily.
If you love meat and that sounds too hard, try making one meal a day, such as lunch, meat-free. Better yet get in a few vegetarian days each week.
It’s such an easy way to improve your diet.
4. Move More – with 10 minutes bursts of activity
Studies show we should exercise three or four times a week for at least 45 minutes; walking is perfect for beginners. But the more exercise you get, the better.
One easy way to fit in more exercise is with quick bursts of activity. Even super busy women should be able to fit one or two of those into their day.
I recommend a brisk walk, adding stairs or hills if there are any handy. Otherwise, there are plenty of 10-minute exercise routines you can find on YouTube.
Or create your own simple 10-minute circuit fitness with five exercises repeated twice for one minute each. For example:
- Push-ups – on your knees if needed;
- Squats – with weights if any are handy;
- Star jumps – or running on the spot;
- Walking lunges.
Mix it up with different exercises or get a friend to join you and the 10 minutes will be over before you know it.
5. Stretch More – just for 10 minutes every day
As we age, we lose flexibility which can lead to injuries and falls. The more inflexible we become, the more likely we are to hurt ourselves just by bending down to pick up a bag or by reaching up to get something from a high cupboard.
Stretching helps us stay flexible and fit for longer. It’s also a good way to unwind at lunchtime, after work or before bed.
However, stretching can be boring which is why I avoided it for a long time. Even when my body started aching from so much running, I still avoided stretching until I couldn’t go on any longer and a physio told me I needed to stretch.
What helped me start a better stretching practice was listening to audio books on Audible while I stretched. Instead of avoiding stretching I started looking forward to it, even stretching a few times a day if I found a great “read” to listen to.
I dream of going to yoga but that takes too much time. But just 10 minutes of stretching a day helps me stay limber and keeps my body ready for anything.
What are your easy health tips for busy women?
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