(Family Features) Creating more healthy days is easier than you may think. Contrary to popular belief, overall health is more than just being free of disease or chronic illness. Other factors, such as access to fresh foods, neighborhood walkability and public safety, to name a few, can help cultivate healthy days within your community.
Respondents to an Aetna Foundation survey said local aspects have a large effect on their health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also acknowledge that a person’s zip code is a good indicator of an individual’s health and longevity. However, there are small, everyday steps you can take to make a big impact on your overall health, using available resources in your city or county.
Here are five easy tips to help increase your daily wellness.
Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise. Forty-nine percent of Americans say they exercise to improve their overall health, according to the survey. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day can help you feel more energized and aid you in maintaining a healthy weight. Participate in aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities by visiting your local community gym or recreational center to lift weights or take part in sports activities, riding your bike on a path close to your home or going for a walk in your neighborhood park.
Drink more water and plan meals. Make sure that you’re getting the recommended amount of fruits, vegetables and water each day. Planning your meals ahead of time can help you incorporate healthier food options. Drinking water throughout the day instead of sugary sodas and juices helps your body regulate temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects the spinal cord and sensitive tissues, and helps prevent weight creep. Seventy-three percent of survey respondents said drinking plenty of water contributes to a healthy day.
Step away for small breaks. Your overall health also includes your emotional health and well-being. More than eight out of 10 Americans surveyed said their mood and stress level has an equal impact on their health as the food they consume. Life can get busy and overwhelming, but simple acts like taking a few deep breathes, standing and stretching or taking a walk can help calm the mind and relieve stress. Having an understanding of what makes you at your best emotionally leads to better days at work or school.
Put your smartphone and body on sleep mode. The amount of sleep you get can have a direct impact on your mood and health. Sixty-four percent of respondents said they need at least eight hours of sleep to have a healthy day. Try to create a relaxing bedtime routine or develop a sleep schedule to help you get the best possible night’s rest, including unplugging from electronics and devices an hour or more before bedtime.
Get involved. More than nine out of 10 Americans said they are willing to take action to create a healthier environment, according to the survey. With a strong support system of friends and family, you can improve your health, help each other make healthier choices and organize ways to stay on course, such as organizing a weekly walk, planning a neighborhood recycling contest, registering for a fitness event, signing up for a volunteer program, attending a community meeting or creating a local garden.
More than what happens in the doctor’s office impacts your health. Incorporating these small changes can make a lasting difference. To learn more about ways cities and counties near you are making a difference, visit HealthiestCities.org.