Just because you are practicing responsible social distancing by isolating yourself at home does not mean you need to be unhealthy. In fact, a strong immune system may be more valuable now than ever. Here are some easy things to keep in mind about your health during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Eat Your Vegetables
Yes, your parent’s were right: You need to eat your vegetables! Shoot for five servings of vegetables a day—raw, steamed, or stir-fried. A diet high in vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of developing cancers of the lung, colon, breast, cervix, esophagus, stomach, bladder, pancreas, and ovaries. And many of the most powerful phytonutrients are the ones with the boldest colors — such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, grapes, and leafy greens.
If adding more fruits and vegetables sounds ominous, look to “finger food” versions that preschool kids love — carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, broccoli florets, grapes, berries, and dried fruits. All are nutritional powerhouses packed with antioxidants.
Foods Over Supplements
Supplements are not a substitute for a good diet. Although many health experts recommend taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement that provides 100 to 200 percent of your recommended daily value, each and every supplement should be carefully evaluated for purity and safety. Specific supplements have been associated with toxicity, reactions with medications, competition with other nutrients, and even increased risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you have trouble sleeping, try relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga. Or eat a small bedtime snack of foods shown to help shift the body and mind into sleep mode: whole grain cereal with milk, oatmeal, cherries, or chamomile tea. Darken your room more and turn your clock away from you. Write down worries or stressful thoughts to get them out of your head and onto the page. This will help you put them into perspective so you can quit worrying about them.
You want to get at least 7-hours of sleep per-night. Yes there are some people who can stay energized and healthy and slightly less sleep, and there are many who need more. It is important to find your ideal number of sleep hours and then to stick to those hours as consistently as possible. Doing so is referred to as having proper “sleep hygiene.”
3. Daily Physical Exercise
Did you know that daily exercise can reduce all of the biomarkers of aging? This includes improving eyesight, normalizing blood pressure, improving lean muscle, lowering cholesterol, and improving bone density. If you want to live well and live longer, you must exercise! Studies show that even ten minutes of exercise makes a difference — so do something! Crank the stereo and dance in your living room. Sign up for swing dancing or ballroom dancing lessons. Walk to the park with your kids or a neighbor you’d like to catch up with. Jump rope or play hopscotch. Spin a hula hoop. Play water volleyball. Bike to work. Jump on a trampoline. Go for a hike.
Often the biggest deterrent to improving health is feeling overwhelmed by all the available advice and research. Try to focus first on one small, seemingly inconsequential, unhealthy habit and turn it into a healthy, positive habit. If you’re in the habit of eating as soon as you get home at night, instead, keep walking shoes in the garage or entryway and take a quick spin around the block before going inside. If you have a can of soda at lunchtime every day, have a glass of water two days a week instead. Starting with small, painless changes helps establish the mentality that healthy change is not necessarily painful change. It’s easy to build from here by adding more healthy substitutions.