Picture the scene…
It’s a Saturday. You’ve had a busy but productive week at work. All that time spent on that proposal has really paid off and it looks like you’ll be given the responsibility of seeing the project through. But there’s no time to celebrate. Between work and family life, in fact, you’ve had little time to relax lately. You try to keep up with physical activity through the odd gym session and walking the dog, but you’ve not been sleeping well (again!) so you’re finding it hard to get up in the mornings. The weekend ahead is full of family commitments. For not the first time, you’re starting to feel you are getting older. You’re tired, your joints are achy, you think you might be getting a cold (again!) and your digestion seems out of sorts (again!).
It can be really easy to put any health symptoms down to getting older, lack of sleep, a busy week… but the truth is, your lifestyle could be affecting your health with significant long-term effects. Here’s how it happens and what you can do to change things...
1.Your Immune System Isn’t Working As Well As It Could
There’s a bug going round the office, or at school… are you always the one to catch it? Getting ill easily and your body taking longer to recover isn’t necessarily just related to age. It can also be a sign that your immune system isn’t operating at its optimal level.
Your immune system is designed to fight off those everyday illnesses, and to be fair, it’s pretty good at doing that, so long as its properly equipped. Cutting corners on sleep, exercise and excess refined food can all take its toll on your immune system.
What changes can you make?
- Drink more water - The effects of getting enough water in improving your immune system was shown in a recent study by Dr David Lewis, where water intake was shown to improve blood circulation and support the nasal mucus membranes, reducing the chances of developing coughs, colds and 'flu, as well as having many other health benefits.
- Exercise more - A recent study showed that moderate exercise for 20-30 minutes each day, six days per week can reduce the chances of developing 'flu by 50%.
- Improve your sleep - Your body needs sleep to function at its best. Try using a sleep app or diary to track your sleeping patterns. Choose not to use electronic devices before bed to give yourself time to unwind and rest well.
- Get more nutrients in your diet - try keeping a food diary or using a food tracker app to check you are getting enough of the right kinds of foods for your immune system to thrive. Consider taking supplements if you are lacking certain nutrients in your diet.
2. Your heart is having to work harder than it should
Your heart is incredible. It is an amazing muscle that beats around 100,000 times a day. It's active 24 hours a day to keep you alive. So it makes sense that we should not give it extra work! However, modern living, fast paced and often relentless, can put extra strain on your heart. Preventing heart disease is about keeping your heart healthy, at every age. As well as the common factors we may be aware of that can affect our heart health – such as smoking, alcohol and weight gain – stress is also a common factor in heart health.
How can you make a change?
Consider your lifestyle: are there things you could do to reduce those factors? We all have stress in our lives which is sometimes unavoidable, but it’s important that you make time to de-stress.
Choosing activities that combat the stress in your life can have a benefit to your heart. Perhaps some of these ideas could help:
- Yoga or meditation classes
- Walking in the countryside
- Writing a to do list each morning
- Planning in exercise
- Learning relaxation or breathing techniques for when you’re feeling stressed
3. Your energy levels are lower than normal
Have you ever woken up feeling more tired than when you went to bed? Energy levels can be a sign your lifestyle is affecting your health. The truth is modern life can drain us of our energy. It can be really easy to fall into a trap of not getting enough sleep, self-medicating with caffeine and energy drinks and trying to get through. Low energy levels mean we’re more likely to skip exercise and reach for the takeaway menu rather than cook. The combined result is that your body isn’t likely getting enough of what it needs to re-energise healthily. Stimulants like caffeine and meals high in carbohydrates may give a hit of energy but they are masking a wider problem.
How can you make a change?
Maybe it is time to stop and evaluate your energy levels and lifestyle.
- Are you eating well? Would changing your diet improve your energy levels?
- Are you getting enough rest? You can’t recharge if you don’t rest well
- Are you getting enough exercise? Although you may feel tired, gentle exercise actually might be just what your body needs for improved health.
4. You aren’t as supple as you once were
It is true that as we get older, our joints and muscles naturally age as well. However, your lack of flexibility, those stiff joints and muscles and achy bones aren’t necessarily because of your body ageing. In fact, consistent exercise can have a profound effect on your body and can help keep those aches and pains at bay. This study of over 100 old cyclists demonstrates the benefits of exercise for older people. It not only helps your ageing muscles and bones but can also have an impact on your immune system.
How can you make a change?
When everything is busy, it can be hard to find the time to add in exercise to your already packed schedule. Here are five things you can do to add exercise, without losing time from other activities:
- Take the stairs instead of the lift
- Use your lunch hour at work to take a short, brisk walk
- Use family time to go for a walk in the countryside
- Try parking further away from work, or getting off one stop early on public transport
- Ask about starting a yoga class in work
Are You Ready To Make A Difference?
The great thing about the human body is that it is very adaptable. Just as your lifestyle can impact your health in a negative way, your body will also react in a positive way to changes in your lifestyle. If you are ready, you can always change and adapt your habits to better suit your body and start enjoying the benefits of your new lifestyle choices.
A great lifestyle choice is taking a daily supplement to help ensure you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs. Find out more in our free guide: