June marks the halfway point through the year. How are your health and fitness goals doing? Are you tracking toward the resolutions you set at the beginning of the year? If you need some inspiration, here are a few tips and tricks to help make the second half of the year a success.
Back to basics
If you’re not feeling as healthy as you would like, now is an excellent time to review the basics of good health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a healthy diet has numerous benefits, including:
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Healthier teeth, eyes, and skin
- Better immunity
- Lower risk for a variety of illnesses, including some cancers
- Improved digestive function
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Supporting pregnancy and breastfeeding
- Possibly longer life
In general, your dietary goal should focus on getting a variety of fruits and vegetables, along with lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Also, pay attention to your caffeine intake. Starting the morning with a cup of coffee is how many of us get going, and it’s not necessarily bad. But too much caffeine could lead to anxiety and various effects such as restlessness, insomnia, and headaches. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, try cutting down on caffeine for the second half of the year.
The CDC recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, which you can break down into 30 minutes, five days per week. Kids and teens need at least an hour per day. But you don’t have to hit the gym if that isn’t your style. Any movement that gets your blood pumping works, from a moderate walk to swimming to tossing around a football in the backyard. And if you’ve become a total couch potato recently, you don’t have to hit the target goal simultaneously. The CDC notes that their number one guideline is to move more and sit less. Just standing up and walking around for a few minutes throughout the workday is an excellent start. Or park your car just a little further from the store than usual.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep is vital for mind and body health. It doesn’t just give you a break from the stresses of daily life; it is the time that your brain and body heal from the microtraumas of the day. Promote better sleep by paying attention to your sleep hygiene rituals:
- Develop a consistent sleep schedule
- Create bedtime routines
- Eat a light snack
- Get up if you’re not asleep in 20 minutes
- Turn off your electronics, including the TV
Humans are social creatures, and the quality of our interactions plays a vital role in both mental and physical health. In fact, the CDC notes that those experiencing social isolation are at significantly higher risk for premature death from all causes. How are your social relationships doing these days? Are you prioritizing those that are most important? Call your best friend, schedule a group dinner, or book a date night with your significant other. Even small gestures can add up over time.
Most of the research on screen time involves children, but the University of Nevada, Reno, notes that adults are also at risk from too much screen time. From social isolation to depression, your mental health can suffer if you use your electronic devices too much. It’s especially important to power down your devices an hour or two before bed since the emitted blue light can wreak havoc on your sleep cycles.
Forming good habits
If you’re like most people, your New Year’s resolutions are probably long forgotten. But it’s not too late to develop healthier habits for the rest of this year and beyond. According to research, the keys are frequency and time. It turns out that developing an automatic habit requires you to perform whatever the behavior is at least four times a week. It takes about three weeks to build a simple habit and around two months to create a more complicated one. Set an achievable goal, then turn it into actionable steps that you perform daily. If you miss a day, forgive yourself and keep going. Soon your new behavior will become an automatic habit.
Functional fitness can be loosely defined as supporting the activities of daily living. If you want to feel better while carrying groceries, playing with your kids or grandkids, or taking a nature hike, functional fitness can help. And it has all the same benefits as any other type of exercise, including lowering your risk for illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. It can also help to prevent falls, as well as depression and even cognitive decline.
Mental health check-in
How are you feeling mentally and emotionally these days? If your mental health is not at its best, here are a few tips from the National Library of Medicine:
- Keep a gratitude journal
- Promote positivity
- Take a break from the 24-hour news cycle, as well as from online arguments
- Find purpose and meaning in your life
- Practice meditation and yoga
- Find self-care routines that help you relax
Life is filled with stressors, from minor inconveniences to major tragedies. Resilience is your ability to go with the flow, adapt to stress, and make changes as needed to keep moving forward. From the American Psychological Association, here are a few ways to build your resilience:
- Find community
- Practice mindfulness
- Prioritize diet, exercise, sleep, and self-care
- Focus on self-discovery
- Keep pursuing your goals
- Maintain perspective
- Learn from the struggles of your past
- Talk to a professional
It’s already the middle of the year, making this a great time to check in with yourself. How is your health overall? What about your mental health? Are you making progress toward your goals? If any of these are out of balance, take some time for a reset. Making simple changes can help you finish the year happier and healthier than you were before. If you have any health questions or concerns, check in with your doctor for advice.