Body & Fitness

17 things to do for your health in 2017

These simple changes could improve your well-being.

1 Cook more often with coconut oil

It contains fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides that have health benefits, including improving good cholesterol levels and reducing hunger.

2 Eat at least two servings of vegetables with every meal

Try spinach and mushrooms with your scrambled eggs for breakfast, lettuce and tomato with your chicken sandwich at lunchtime, and broccoli and beans with your chops for dinner. Even if you are having toast for breakfast, have a side plate of carrots and cauliflower. Weird, yes, but really good for you.

3 Hug somebody every day

Touching another person can reduce stress, boost your immune system and make you happier.

4 Identify your worst health habit and do your best to get rid of it

That could mean quitting smoking, not staying up so late, ditching that afternoon snack or remembering to use sunscreen.

5 Have a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon in it first thing every morning

Not only will it help to rehydrate you but it can improve digestion, cleanse your liver, fight respiratory infections, boost metabolism and regulate your bowels.

6 Spend time in the sun

This doesn’t mean getting sunburnt – that should be avoided – but getting just a few minutes of sunshine a day will provide you with vitamin D. A shortage of this vitamin has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

7 Practice gratitude

Every day, write down at least one thing you are grateful for. People who are grateful tend to have better self-esteem and are less likely to suffer from depression.

8 Drink lots of tea

Green tea is particularly good for you, but black also contains antioxidants that can inhibit the growth of cancer cells and improve cardiovascular health.

9 Get better at washing your hands regularly

You can avoid all sorts of bugs if you wash them before eating – particularly snacks, when you eat with your hands rather than utensils – and after using the toilet or being in public places.

10 Learn to read nutrition labels on food products

This will help you make sensible choices when shopping. Look out for high salt and sugar content and use of transfats.

11 Ban screens from the bedroom

Watching TV or using a phone, computer or tablet just before bed means you’re more likely to have difficulty sleeping. That’s because the bright light they emit fools your body clock into thinking it is still day and you are not ready for sleep. Try not to look at a screen for at least half an hour before heading off to sleep.

12 Make your own salad dressings

Store-bought ones can be full of sugar and preservatives. Plus freshly-made vinaigrettes and dressings taste so much better. Try one made with virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and fresh herbs, which are all good for you.

13 Update your pillow

It may not be supporting your head and neck properly while you’re sleeping, which can result in chronic pain. Test it by folding it in half – if it springs back, it is okay, if it doesn’t, replace it.

14 Eat chillis

They contain a substance called capsaicin, which helps to stimulate blood circulation and reduce the risk of clots. They are also a source of antioxidants that can help

to prevent cell damage.

15 Exercise in water

Swimming or aqua aerobics is a great way of working out without putting stress on your body, particularly your joints. Because it offers resistance, it can also help to build muscles.

16 Challenge your brain

Do crosswords or other puzzles, play chess, learn a new language or take up a musical instrument. These activities may be able to protect the brain from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

17 Plank every day

This exercise, which involves bracing yourself in a push-up position and holding for as long as you can, is great for building strength in your core, shoulders, arms and glutes.

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