Sunday, 5 April 2015

3 Easy ways to improve your overall physical health

Getting healthy is not the same as being fit. Being healthy is merely the absence of illness (physical and mental) and a general well-being. In the developed world, we often lead very sedentary lifestyles. Just think of how long you spend sat down every day , and how many things you can do without actually standing up. This IS making us all fat. Americans top the scales as 33% are obese, but the rest of the western world is not far behind, with the UK at 26% and the rest of mainland Europe between 20 and 30 %. However, just because you aren't obese doesn't mean that you aren't overweight. In the UK 44% of people are at least overweight. This is also coupled with the fact that less than a quarter of people get their 5 portions of fruit and veg per day and only 20% take part in any form of exercise for more than 11 days out of a month! This is creating unnecessary health risks by skyrocketing the likely-hood of heart failure, stroke, hypertension etc etc.

The worst thing is that being, or becoming healthy is not actually that hard. These 3 easy changes you can make to your daily routine can help you to improve your health. This will not necessarily help you get into great shape, but it will help you to reduce the amount of fat in your blood and can decrease the risk of many weight related illnesses. If you don't do any formal exercise at the moment, I urge you to commit to these changes.

The first change is obvious, diet. Just changing from whole milk to skimmed milk, or having brown bread over white, or even making the same meal from scratch rather than a pre-prepared meal will make vast improvements to your health.

Secondly, is something that has taken off greatly in the last couple of years, NEAT. This is your Non Exercising Activity Time, which basically means how much time your are active for when you aren't in any formal exercise. This is typically very low in the western world, as we spend most of our time at work, class and home sat down. Just being stood up for half an hour out of 24 can give profound health benefits, but you should aim to maximise the amount of time you can stay stood up for. There are a number of ways to increase your NEAT; walk/cycle to wherever you need to go, if it's within a 5-10 minute drive then you should be walking there. Take calls outside, if you work in an office you should make an effort to stand up at your desk, and whenever you make a call be sure to get up and walk around outside( I can't not walk around on the phone, so this comes naturally to me!). Even sitting down on an exercise ball instead of a chair can count towards your NEAT as it engages your back and leg muscles in order to stay upright.

Studies have shown that making an effort to maximise your NEAT can increase the calories you burn per day by 500! Studies have also found that people with more active jobs, such as labour or working in a busy bar/cafe etc burn more calories per day than those that work in an office and then do 2 hours of cardio at night, because they are doing absolutely nothing for the remainder of the day. By maximising your NEAT you can actually make vast health gains without doing any formal exercise.

The third way of getting healthy might strike people as being strange, but you can improve your health dramatically by exercising for just 3 minutes a week. Now if you want a six pack then you need to do a lot more than just 3 minutes, but from a pure health perspective 3 minutes is all you need. This is by doing something called High Intensity Interval Training (HIT), which consists of you either running, cycling or swimming for 30 seconds at your very maximum intensity, then resting for 10 seconds, repeat 3 times and do this twice a week. These short bursts of highly intense exercise help to maintain healthy internal organs and can prevent many heart diseases along with many other, possible but as yet not fully tested, benefits. It maintains your body's ability to perform at high intensity and boosts your metabolism throughout your day, by making you more energised and active.

While these will not give you a six pack, just exercising for 3 minutes out of a week, maximising your NEAT and eating a more balanced and varied diet will put you well and truly on the right track and could greatly improve your life expectancy, as well as your quality of life. I'm sorry these are a bit boring, but boring is what works! 

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