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How to live healthy

Making positive health choices for you and your family is the most important step to living a long, happy and fulfilled life. Here’s how.

According to an article published in the South African Medical Journal, the number of deaths from noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) has been increasing globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) has projected that by 2030, NCDs will be the biggest cause of death in the African region.

Diabetes, renal disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer and a growing number of South Africans who fall into the overweight and obese category increase the burden on our country’s already strained healthcare system and greatly affect economic progress. Add to that lifestyle changes due to urbanisation, a more sedentary lifestyle, high-stress careers, the overconsumption of alcohol and tobacco products, and drug abuse and you have a major health crisis on your hands.

There’s no doubt that if you’ve been stuck in bad habits for a long time, making positive lifestyle choices can be challenging, but the rewards far outweigh the negatives. No matter where you are in your life, you can make the decision to change right now.

Set a goal

You need to know what you’re working towards before you start. Do you want to improve your fitness, prioritise a healthy diet or cut back on alcohol or smoking tobacco, or do you just want to feel healthier and happier? Knowing what you want to achieve and why will help you to formulate a plan.

Measure your progress

Progress is a great motivator and if you can see the gains you are making, you will feel encouraged to continue building a healthy lifestyle. Whether you have a fitness tracker, download an app, weigh yourself regularly or record your accomplishments in a journal, you must note how far you’ve come – and give yourself a little reward when you’ve made gains.

Make sure its achievable

While it’s exciting when you see progress, it’s extremely disheartening when you don’t, but often a lack of progress is a result of unrealistic goals. You know your body and your mind best, so don’t decide to exercise every morning if you’re not a morning person, or plan a 5km run if you’re not at an adequate fitness level.

Focus on the big three

Nutrition, exercise and regular health screenings are the keys to your success. Before you start any new gym workout or exercises, change your diet or make radical lifestyle changes, you should have your doctor evaluate your current health profile and make you aware of any areas of concern. If you experience any worrying symptoms, discuss them with your doctor. 

Gather a supportive team

Surround yourself with people who are going to cheer you on and encourage you during your transition to a healthier, happier life. Negativity can derail your progress and people who encourage you to slip back into bad habits won’t help you achieve your goals. Your support team could consist of family, friends, health professionals or support groups.

7 lifestyle changes that directly affect health and wellness

1. Change: Quit smoking
Result: Reduces your risk of heart attach or stroke

2. Change: Eat less sugar
Result: Increases your energy levels and improves your mood

3. Change: Get enough quality sleep
Result: Boosts your energy and productivity

4. Change: Exercise and get moving
Result: Promotes cardiovascular health

5. Change: Drink sufficient water throughout the day
Result: Supports renal and brain function

6. Change: Take up a hobby or activity
Result: Prevents burnout

7. Change: Make real connections
Result: Reinforces mental health and wellbeing

The information is shared on condition that readers will make their own determination, including seeking advice from a healthcare professional. E&OE. Life Healthcare Group Ltd does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by the reader as a result of the information provided.