One of the most important lessons we can learn from the global pandemic is that it’s inadvisable to take our health for granted. While it may not be possible to prevent every illness or infection, there are steps you can start taking now to improve your health and wellbeing in the future. Why not start working towards your long-term health goals today?
Improved heart and lung function
Looking after your heart and lungs is crucial for good health. The most important risk factors to be aware of when protecting the cardiovascular system are high blood pressure, smoking and inactivity. High blood pressure (hypertension) can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, and it often goes unnoticed as there are no obvious symptoms. If you haven’t had your blood pressure checked in the last 12 months, it’s a good idea to book an appointment. Being overweight, living a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, drinking excessively and a poor diet can all elevate the risk of hypertension.
Smoking is a major risk factor for respiratory illnesses and many forms of cancer. Giving up isn’t easy, but there is help and support available. For those who are keen to cut down, but are struggling to curb cravings, using nicotine replacement methods or switching to e-liquid and e-cigarettes may help. There are also group support sessions available through your GP surgery and local pharmacy. Being more active is one of the best ways to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Aim to complete 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This doesn’t have to involve running on a treadmill for hours or spending the afternoon lifting weights or doing sit-ups. You can include all kinds of activities, from dance and spin classes to bike rides, hikes and Pilates sessions.
Being healthy isn’t just about having strong muscles and bones. It’s also critical to look after your mental health. Practising self-care and seeking advice when you notice that things aren’t quite right can help to boost wellbeing and reduce the risk of mental health issues. Self-help strategies you may want to try include regular exercise, meditation and massage therapy, creative activities and taking time out to enjoy hobbies, to socialise and to get out into the open air. Talking about how you feel can help you to process and manage emotions, and some people also find painting, writing or songwriting a cathartic means of expressing thoughts and worries.
It’s important to remember that feeling low and being anxious are natural human emotions, but if you go through spells where you feel like you can’t control your emotions, it’s impossible to switch off, or you can’t find the energy, hope or optimism to get out of bed in the morning, there is help out there. Contact your GP and look into initiatives run by mental health charities in your local area.
Taking good care of your body and mind now can lead to health improvements you can enjoy for decades to come. If your health has been on the back-burner, now is the time to start putting it first.