Karl Henry: Top 10 simple swaps to help improve your health and sleep better
Tips from our residential personal trainer
Congratulations on surviving the first few weeks of January. But beware, this is when things start to get tough. Those resolutions begin to get harder, the motivation starts to wane and all of a sudden you're questioning yourself and why you thought you would do it in the first place. But stay strong. This week I've got some simple swaps to improve your health and even help you sleep a little better.
1 Stop eating late: So this one sometimes causes a bit of controversy. Some say that it doesn't matter how late you eat once you have a calorie deficit. While this is true, after 8pm is the time most people snack, graze and gorge. Going to bed on a full stomach is never good for your sleep patterns either. Aim to eat your biggest meal early in the day, give yourself a cut-off time that works for you.
2 Tech-free bedroom: Sleep is crucial for your health; sleep more and sleep better and you will notice a dramatic difference in how you feel, eat and move. Technology in the bedroom - in terms of screens - is what will make the biggest difference, so get rid of the TV, leave the iPads outside and don't forget about the phones too.
3 Stand: Standing is the best health swap EVER. When we sit, we let the chair do all the work. All of it. Standing forces your body to do the work, strengthening, burning calories, improving your core and your posture. Standing more will improve your health, stand at work, on your commute and just in general. Standing for seven hours a week, over the course of a year will burn the equivalent of 20,000 calories or 100 chocolate bars.
4 Get a pet: Pets are brilliant for so many reasons. While looking after them is a big responsibility, the love that pets give back to you is a feel-good factor that is hard to match. They love you unconditionally and are a great way to help you unwind after a stressful day.
5 Clean your car/home/desk: A clean enviroment feels good. Very good. A messy car, home or desk is a sign of a messy mind and it can be hard to get healthy when that's the case. So get a box or a bag and start cleaning.
6 Learn to say no: Being a yes person is good and can open up new opportunities. But it can also be extremely stressful and create a huge amount of pressure on yourself. So learn to say no a little bit more. Not to everything, but to the low-priority things.
7 Batch cook: Cooking more is great for your health, we know that, but it can be hard to squeeze it in when you're busy. The way to get around this is to batch cook. Cooking a large amount of food and storing it in the fridge or freezer so that you know you are always going home to a stock of healthy food.
8 Hug more: Don't get freaked out. Hugging is so beneficial to your health, you release feel-good hormones when you hug. Human contact is so good for you too, it's one of the reasons they recommend skin-to-skin contact for newborn babies.
9 Read a book: Reading a book can be a great way to relax, unwind, de-stress and learn new things too. I love real books as opposed to eBooks, as the feel of the book is part of the experience too!
10 Find a hobby: Having something that is not work and not family, but is your very own time and interest, is so good for your mental and physical health. My advice here would be to try as many things as possible to ensure you really do find the one interest that you really love and enjoy.
* Every week, Independent.ie features The Real Health podcast with Karl Henry, in association with Laya Healthcare. In this week's podcast it's the Burnout Solution with Siobhan Murray - 12 steps to a calmer you.. www.independent.ie/realhealthpodcast
Health & Living