5 Healthy habits to pick up right now
Posted on 3 January 2019
Be realistic with your health goals this year and rather usher in the new year with attainable health resolutions that will have a major impact on your general wellbeing. Mediclinic experts weigh in.
Establish a good bedtime routine
Your nightly rituals are more important than you think. Scheduling relaxing activities close to bedtime (i.e. switching off Netflix and reaching for a book) and keeping a consistent bedtime routine keeps your mind and body in optimal health. As Dr Jennie Bruwer, a GP at Mediclinic Upington, adds, ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and obesity.
Drink enough water
Your body weight is approximately 60% water, some of which is lost through breathing, sweating and digestion. “All your cells, organs and tissues need adequate water to function properly – so it’s critical to rehydrate regularly,” Dr Bruwer cautions. If you’re not sure about your hydration level, look at your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in good shape. If it’s dark, you’re probably dehydrated.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in South Africa and can be caused by skin cell damage as a result of too much exposure to the sun’s invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. “Apply good sunscreen regularly when you’re outdoors – and don’t neglect your ears, back of neck and scalp (if you’re balding),” says Dr Jacques du Toit, a dermatologist at Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt. But don’t reject the sun outright. Small amounts of UV are essential for the production of vitamin D, which your body needs to absorb calcium and promote bone growth.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s too late to give up. Remember, your body starts repairing itself within hours after that last cigarette. “Your heart rate and blood pressure drop almost immediately, and within weeks, your circulation and ability to breathe improve dramatically,” says Dr Bruwer. You’ll also significantly decrease your risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.
“Interacting with others boosts your feelings of well-being and decreases feelings of depression,” says Durban clinical psychologist Dr Sherona Rawat. “Research shows that people who connect with others generally perform better on cognitive skill tests. And, in the long run, people with active social lives are less likely to develop dementia than those who are socially isolated.”