Written by Emma Dinsmore
Our bodies are amazing! Did you know that your heart beats 100,000 times per day, pumping out 5.5 litres of blood per minute, which in total is about 3 million litres of blood a year! Also, the cells in our bodies are constantly being renewed and repaired. This is all happening, without your help, as you sit reading this blog. We really are wonderfully made. But, as amazing as our bodies are, they do get worn out, ill and tired. Things like spending most of our day sitting down, not getting enough zzz's and eating too much junk food can all lower our immune systems, making us more susceptible to those dreaded coughs and colds, let alone the big diseases. We all occasionally fall into bad habits because of our busy and stressful lives, but making small changes is a sure-fire way to protect our physical health.
Now, you may be more of a snuggling-in-some-hay bunny than a gym bunny, but we all know that exercise is important for maintaining our physical health. A few years ago, the UK government set a target for 70% of the population to be reasonably active (for example, 30 minutes of moderate exercise a few times a week) by 2020. For some of us, that will seem like nothing, while for others, it can seem like a lot, especially if the idea of exercise really doesn't appeal or our jobs are less active. A report by the Health Education Research Journal found that enjoyment is an important motivator to participation in exercise. So, the trick is to find something you enjoy doing, that doesn't feel like a chore. It might mean running with the dog instead of walking. Or gathering the girls to an awesome trampoline park! It could mean trying a few gym classes before you find something you like, or trying out our easy workouts at home with Clarity Magazine. You could take some much-needed space with a podcast and go for a long, solitary walk in the countryside. It doesn't really matter what is so long as you just do it (as Shia LABeouf and Nike would say).
Food glorious food
Many of us struggle to eat five portions of fruit and veg every day. But we know they're good for us, and God gave them for us to eat (check out Genesis 1:29), so we should try to eat them as much as we can. The British Heart Foundation suggests making several easy swaps like the following:
- Swap your typical potato for a sweet potato. It’s a great way to jazz up your usual Shepherd's Pie topping or homemade chips. While normal potatoes don't count as one of your 5-a-day, sweet potatoes do! Plus the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has shown that the high amount of potassium in a sweet potato is enough to significantly lower blood pressure, reducing the effects of stress after a demanding day.
- Use tinned tomatoes instead of ready-made tomato sauce in your spag bol. Research has shown that the nutritional benefits of tomatoes actually increase when they are cooked - plus adding a little oregano, pepper and garlic will make sure it’s still full of flavour. Ditch the white pasta and grab some wholemeal pasta - or get searching for courgetti!
- Trade that fizzy pop for some fruit juice and soda water instead. One glass of unsweetened 100% fruit juice. It counts as one of your 5-a-day, but they also contain a lot of sugar, so limit them to mealtimes. The soda water gives it that fizz you're after!
- Cut out the meat and add a variety of veggies to your stir-fry, curry or pasta dish Peppers, carrots and onions taste well with anything Red peppers are especially good for your skin too.
- Swap white bread for wholemeal or granary. They're loaded with fibre which helps kickstart a sluggish digestive system, a common problem many of us have.
Photo by Caley Vanular on Unsplash