If you ate a cup of every super food that is recommended and performed every exercise you’re told you should do, you would have a hard time fitting in those eight hours of nightly sleep you’re also supposed to get.
Here are six common sense tips for making yourself healthier. Incorporate one or more into your routine and you will feel better and still have plenty of time to work, play and dream.
1. Apply sunscreen: It’s easy to remember sunscreen in the summer, when sweat is streaking your cheeks and the beach is beckoning. To keep skin looking young and to hold wrinkles and melanoma at bay, slather on the SPF all year round — even in winter, when clear air and fallen snow guide the sun’s rays straight to your skin. If you aren’t wearing gloves, then rub some sunscreen on your hands.
2. Shield your eyes: After you smear sunscreen over your skin, don’t skip protecting those baby blues. By making sunglasses part of your daily routine you’ll be protecting your corneas and retinas — as well as the delicate skin around your eyes — from damage caused by ultraviolet rays.
3. Don’t dodge the sun completely: Indoor habits deprive many of us of sunlight, which, in turn, can deprive us of vitamin D. A deficiency of D may raise your risk of cardiovascular disease, soft bones, and other maladies. During warmer seasons, go out and get a daily dose of sunshine. If you are pale, you will need approximately 10 short-sleeved minutes in the sun; if you are olive-skinned or tan, 20 minutes — the darker your skin tone, the longer you need to spend in the sun. Add a vitamin D supplement to your winter habits. Talk with your pharmacist about supplements, and speak with your general practitioner or dermatologist about risk factors before spending lots of time in the sun.
4. Walk: If work keeps you at a desk, set a timer to go off once an hour. (Most smartphones and computers now come with timers, or you can download one.) When the alarm goes off, get up and walk around. If all you have time for is a stroll down the hallway and back, take it. Every step counts toward cardiovascular and muscular health, and you will return refreshed. The literal change of perspective will do your mind, as well as your body, a world of good.
5. Take a yoga or Pilates class: Start with a beginner’s class and take your time learning the twisty, stretchy skills. A study at the University of Texas at Austin found that increasing your flexibility can help reduce stiffness in your arteries. You don’t have to be double-jointed; any boost to flexibility is a boon to your veins and arteries.
6. Join a CSA program: Experts agree that pesticide-free fresh fruits and vegetables are best for your health. Visiting a farmers market is a fine way to put sustainably grown, seasonal produce on your plate, but it can be hard to find the time. Your schedule may not mesh with the local market’s, and in some regions, farmers markets don’t operate in the winter. If you join a community-sponsored agriculture (CSA) program, you will support local growers and you could have fresh produce available every week.