Body & Fitness

15 ways to make 2016 your healthiest year yet

Try these easy New Year tips for a healthier body and mind.
15 tips for better health

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, being more healthy is often top of the list. Here are 15 practical and easy ways to make 2016 your healthiest year yet. Happy New Year!

Stretching with yoga

Stretch for five minutes a day. Unless you do yoga or make a habit of stretching after you run or do a workout, most of us rarely stretch our muscles. Stretching helps improve circulation and flexibility, and can help ease tense muscles.

Image: Chris Jansen/

Write down what your thankful for

Keep a daily gratitude diary. Research shows that practising gratitude improves wellbeing because it encourages you to take better care of your health. People who make an effort to be grateful manage stress better, and their optimistic outlook can boost their immune system. Every morning write down something you are thankful for in your diary and each night, something that happened during the day.

Image: Will Horner/

Take a break from phones and tablets

Have a break from electronic gadgets. Staring at a screen all day can be bad for your eyes and your posture. It can also rob you of energy. Make an effort to take regular breaks, especially before bed. The bright light from tablets, phones and laptops can interfere with your body clock, making it harder for you to fall asleep.

Image: Chris Jansen/


Eat something green with every meal. Here’s a challenge! Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, salad greens and peas are packed full of vitamins and minerals that do wonders for your health. Try having a salad for lunch or adding lettuce to a sandwich and eat at least one green vegetable for dinner. Breakfast is trickier – add spinach or peas to an omelette or scrambled eggs.

Image: Phillip Castleton/

Practice deep breathing for better health

Practise deep breathing. It sounds odd to practise something you do naturally, but we don’t always breathe properly. Shallow breathing is linked to anxiety and can lead to dizziness, headaches and even back pain. Once a day, sit somewhere quiet and breathe deeply for five minutes.

Image: Alana Landsberry/

Eliminate bad foods from your diet

Eliminate one bad thing from your diet. There’s bound to be at least one thing you eat – or drink – that you know is not good for you. It’s time to see if you can go without it. It may be hard at first but after about three weeks, you will get used to not having it.

Image: Dave Wheeler/

Dry body brush

Dry brush your skin. Using a natural bristle brush on your skin helps to eliminate the build-up of toxic waste in your tissues and boosts your blood circulation. Work in  small circles from your hands and feet towards your heart.

Image: Sarah Callister/

Epsom salts

Soak in a bath of Epsom salts. The magnesium in Epsom salts is absorbed through your skin, helping to relax muscles and reduce any pain you may have. It’s also good for heart health.

Image: Kelly Hammond/

Add yoghurt to your breakfast

Add more yoghurt to your diet. As well as being a good source of protein and calcium, it also contains vitamin B2, potassium and magnesium. But it’s the probiotics – or friendly bacteria – found in yoghurt that are particularly beneficial. They may help to boost the immune system and promote healthy digestion.

Image: Phillip Castleton/

Keep your brain active with puzzles

Keep your brain active. Mentally challenging activities – such as doing puzzles or learning a new language – keep your brain healthy by building and maintaining connections. As with physical fitness, it really is a case of use it or lose it.

Image: Brent Wilson/

Dance to music for better health

Dance more. Dancing is a great form of exercise. While going to classes is a good idea, you can also just pop on some music and groove around your living room. If you move vigorously, you’ll burn calories, get your heart pumping, tone and strengthen muscles, improve bone health and release feel-good endorphins that will boost your mood.

Image: Rob Taylor/


Snack on popcorn. Popcorn contains antioxidants called polyphenols which can help protect against chronic conditions such as cancer and heart disease. It is also a good source of fibre and contains B vitamins. Pop it yourself, rather than buying packets that contain lots of salt and butter.

Image: Will Horner/

Set up your work station

Sort out your workstation. If you spend a lot of time at a desk, make sure you are sitting properly. Chairs and worktops that are too high or low will contribute to back and neck problems, so make sure they are comfortable. Pay attention to how you are sitting – you may need a new chair if you are hunched or your head is jutting forward.

Image: Scott Hawkins/

Share weight loss plans for better results

Share your plans to be healthier. Letting other people know you are trying to lose weight, get fit or improve your health can help motivate you. Posting your progress on Twitter or Facebook can also be helpful if you exchange ideas with others and gain a support network.

Image: Will Horner/


Stressed? sniff a lemon. Yes, this sounds bizarre, but apparently lemons contain a substance called linalool which helps counteract the “flight or fight” response triggered when you are stressed. If you don’t like lemons, try smelling basil or lavender – they can have the same effect.


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