You don’t need to spend a lot of money to optimize your physical health. Ultimately, it comes down to eating a diet composed of primarily whole foods, finding ways to integrate movement into your day, and ensuring that you don’t let stress dictate your life.
What Is Health Optimization?
Health Optimization refers to making the most out of your healthy habits and minimizing the ill-effects of unhealthy life decisions. In other words, health optimization is a set of behaviors that allows you to be as healthy as you can, both physically and mentally.
Below are some of the things you can do to achieve optimal physical health:
Daily Exercise And Movement
Instagram might suggest that the primary function of exercise is sculpting your physique, but the benefits go way beyond that. You probably know that it can boost your cardiovascular health, strengthens bones and muscles, and reduces the potential of multiple diseases. Exercise also positively impacts your brain health, boosting your mood and even improving brain memory and cognitive function.
You don’t need to run a marathon or follow a bodybuilding program. Incorporating daily movements into your day-to-day life can go a long way. Here are some small steps you can take to increase your physical activity without going to the gym:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Every once in a while, try to bicycle to work or school.
- Walk around during work when possible. For example, when you are speaking on the phone.
- Park your car away from the entrance.
- Join a sports team, a hiking club, or a meet-up that does physical activities regularly.
Make Healthy Eating A Habit
We can’t talk about managing health without talking about good food. Nutrition can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. The following principles are good guidelines to follow:
Keep Empty Calories As An Occasional Treat
Calories derived from food and beverages such as soda that only have carbohydrates but no other nutrients are empty calories. A single can of soda has about ten tablespoons of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, the daily sugar intake limit is six teaspoons for most women and nine teaspoons for most men.
Highly-processed foods are designed to be addictive and over-consumed, so it’s best to incorporate them into your day-to-day diet. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in them once in a while, but keep them in moderation.
Prioritize Nutrient-Dense Foods
How many calories you need to eat every day depends on factors like your age, sex, and body weight. But what is equally as important as the number of calories is what those calories are made of. When most of your calories come from nutrient-dense foods, you’ll feel much better and energized throughout the day.
According to an article on healthy diets published on the World Health Organization’s website, you should aim to eat 400g of fruit and vegetables every day. Try to keep your sugar intake minimal, ideally no more than 10% of your daily calories.
Pay Attention To Ingredients
If you’ve ever hired a fitness trainer or dietician, they’ve probably pestered you to avoid packaged and processed food. There’s a good reason for this.
The chances are that you’ll see a lot of numbers and terms such as preservatives and emulsifiers. Most of these things aren’t supposed to go inside your body; they are only there to enhance the food’s taste or increase its shelf life.
Try to eat food made out of natural ingredients as much as possible. After all, the human body isn’t made to digest artificial items, at least not on an excessive basis.
Find Food Substitutes For Your Favorite Treats
Finding substitutes for unhealthy food can be fun and highly beneficial to your health. Here are some examples:
- Look for food made with whole wheat rather than refined flour.
- Prioritize baked products over fried foods. For example, baked potato fries can be as good as deep-fried ones.
- Substitute table sugar with honey, and try rock salt instead of table salt.
Remember, when trying substitutes, the idea is to teach your tastebuds to like the new food. The more you eat those substitutes, the more you’ll enjoy what you’re eating.
Never let yourself get thirsty. It won’t come as a surprise to you that water is the best source of hydration. How much water you’ll need depends on your body weight. As a general rule, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need at least 3.7 liters of fluid a day (about 13 cups), and women need at least 2.7 liters (9 cups). Furthermore, 80% of this fluid should be water.
If you think drinking plain water is ‘boring,’ try drinking unsweetened sparkling water. As long as there are no added chemicals, it’s as healthy as still water.
Find Ways To Manage Your Stress Levels
Prolonged stress can cause many health issues. Stress can lead to behaviors that make you at risk of increased blood pressure (like poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption) and other chronic diseases. Chronic stress can also lead to depression.
Here are some habits that can help manage your stress:
Meditation has many benefits, and managing stress is one. Furthermore, it makes you more self-conscious and increases patience and tolerance, leading to less stress in the future. According to studies, 20 minutes of meditation is optimal for better brain performance.
Get Enough Sleep
In addition to decreasing stress, sleep also keeps you physically fit and active. According to the U.S. National Sleep Foundation, adults require between seven to nine hours of sleep daily. Try to make no excuses for this- nature has made you in a way that you require sleep to survive.
Look For A Hobby
Finding and doing what you love can keep stress in check and optimize physical health. This is especially the case when your hobby is an active one.
Maintain Good Posture
Maintaining good posture has many more benefits than just a better body shape. It makes your blood flow better, helps you breathe better, and lessens the chance of getting back pain.
Maintaining a good posture can also be a psychological push to live healthily. When you’re intentionally working to improve posture, you need to be aware of your body, reminding yourself just how much physical health means to you.
Optimizing physical health has many benefits, ranging from decreased risk of diseases to better sleep to longevity. When you feel better about yourself and are not as stressed, you’ll be more confident and excited about taking on the opportunities that life has to offer.