Wellness doesn’t just happen in the gym. How we care for our bodies and our minds beyond the treadmill can make a huge difference in our overall well-being. Here are three ways to extend the benefits of your hard work beyond the gym:
GET ENOUGH SLEEP
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults get at least . But quality of sleep matters just as much, if not more, than quantity. And while most of us don’t get enough sleep, it causes more than just dark circles under our eyes. Getting less than seven hours of sleep a night can lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, immune deficiency, and even weight gain.
It won't surprise any of us that when we haven’t gotten enough sleep, our energy output is lower. However, our bodies compensate by making us seek energy from food as we try to stay awake. And while some extra food intake is necessary, when we have easy access to food and are running low on energy, we’re far more likely to over-compensate and eat too much.
But how can you up the quality and quantity of your Z’s to improve overall wellness? Here’s a few suggestions:
- Keep on schedule. Going to sleep at the same time every night and waking up at the same time helps your body get in a rhythm, which makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up.
- Give yourself space. Power down devices and turn off your TV. Blue light from these screens have been shown to keep us awake
- Limit caffeine intake. Caffeine has a lasting effect on our sleep rhythms and can lessen the quality of our sleep.
Not sure if you’re getting enough sleep? Researchers at Harvard created this online game to test your reaction time.
Just as most of us could use more sleep, many of us would benefit from de-stressing. Stress can cause a range of physical and mental health problems and can compound over time, and even over generations.
One way to improve your psychological and physical wellness is through meditation or mindfulness practices. (They can also help you during your workout!) If you’re an iPhone or Apple Watch user, check out a free meditation app from Blue Cross Blue Shield called Centered. The app offers multiple guided meditation practices of varying lengths to help you on your mindfulness journey!
GO MEATLESS (ON MONDAYS!)
If you tremble at the thought of being a vegetarian, don't worry! You don’t have to completely cut meat out of your diet to gain serious health benefits. According to researchers at Harvard, eliminating meat one day a week has a measurable impact on your health. More importantly, the foods you eat instead of that steak, like legumes, nuts, and fish, are rich in nutrients like protein, fiber, iron, and potassium, and vitamin E.
What wellness practices have you been adopting lately? Let us know in the comments section!