It takes more than exercise to be healthy.
- I asked several health experts their best tips for getting healthier.
- Their answers ranged from meditating and journaling to simply spending more time in nature.
It takes more than just diet and exercise to be healthy.
I asked experts and entrepreneurs in health-related fields, as well as average people, what they do to get healthier. Their answers ranged from meditating to journaling to simply spending more time outside.
Here are the best tips I got on how to be healthier.
Prioritize sleep and your sleep cycle
Sleep deprivation can be as undermining to your health as malnutrition.
“Besides making you irritable, anxious, depressed, impulsive, and accident-prone, it causes inflammatory changes in the body, promoting heart disease and even stroke,” Harvey Karp, CEO of the health company Happiest Baby, told Business Insider.
“Lack of sleep undermines your metabolism, pushing you towards obesity and even pre-diabetes. It’s incredibly important that you prioritize getting ample sleep every night.”
Take care of your mental health
Sometimes one of the best things you can do to be healthier is to do less.
“Therapy can be a really helpful way to proactively do less, creating space in your week to withdraw from the noise of your life and check in with yourself,” Harry Ritter, founder and CEO of Alma, a co-working space for therapists, told Business Insider.
“Physical wellness and mental wellness are inextricably linked, so when you work on your mind, you’re working on your overall health.”
Prep your meals — and your snacks, too
Meal prepping can be a great way for busy people to eat healthy and when it’s done right, can help save food, money, and the environment in the process.
However, it’s not always done right.
“It often leads to wasted food — and all of the money, water and energy it takes to get it to our plates — because it can be difficult to get portions and storage right,” Elizabeth Balkan, the food waste director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told Business Insider. “And by the end of the week, sometimes we’re just plain sick of eating the same thing.”
She suggests using apps and digital tools like Meal Prep Mate to get portioning, shopping lists, storage, and recipes on point.
In tandem with that, know your weak moments.
“Whether it’s 4 p.m. or 11 p.m., know the moments of the day when you crave things that you know aren’t good for you and plan ahead,” Claire Olshan, founder of the health-food company DADA Daily. “Everyone is always so obsessed with meal plans, but it’s important to also be obsessed with snack plans.”
Schedule technology-free time
“For me, being healthier means allowing myself to disconnect when I need it,” Melody Serafino, co-founder of the public relations company No. 29 Communications, said. “My job requires that I’m attached to my email, but I’ve started to set little boundaries where I can: I turn my phone off one hour before I go to bed to give my brain the time and space to properly unwind from the day.”
David Spandorfer, co-founder of the running apparel companyJanji, said he uses a digital trick to help: Inbox Pause, a feature of the internet browser plug-in Boomerang that allows users to customize when emails appear in their inboxes.
“Being an entrepreneur, my natural state is always on and always working, but by inbox pausing, a simple Chrome plug-in, I can take time to reset mentally without being bombarded by digital and almost always unimportant, communication,” he said.
Make meditation a priority
People might say they don’t have time to exercise, let alone meditate, but you can change that when you start to schedule your meditation sessions as you would any other meeting.
“Try actively carving out time by actually putting it on your calendar,” says Sinikiwe Dhliwayo, founder of the yoga collective Naaya. “You’re more likely to get it done if you have it written down and/or get a reminder notification. For me, the ability to practice mindful movement and meditation is my saving grace, living and working in fast-paced New York City.”
Remember that exercise is not about killing yourself
Boot camps and high-intensity interval training classes are great, but they can also send your stress hormones skyrocketing.
“It’s not bad to go hardcore once in a while, but one should never belittle a nice hot yoga class or a brisk 60-minute walk,” says Olshan. “You don’t have to wait for the perfect moment where you have 60 minutes to do an extreme workout. If you have 15 minutes and want to walk on a treadmill on an incline, that’s amazing, and it counts.”
Many of the people consulted for this story said that practicing gratitude has had a huge impact on both their mental and physical health.
“I like to start the day by writing down 10 things I’m truly grateful for — from huge things we take for granted, like the ability to walk and a place to live, to small things like the sun draping through my room and a morning cup of coffee,” publicist Delaney Lightel said.
Connect with nature
Spending time in nature has been linked with numerous health benefits, from improving your memory and your mental health to decreasing your risk of cancer.
“There are a million studies about the importance and advantage of connecting with nature,” says Rachel Finger, co-founder of Gryph & IvyRose, a company that makes health products for children. “Whether it’s a quick swim, a sunset walk, picking flowers, or collecting rocks with the kids, all of it releases stress and fulfills me in an immeasurable way.”