6 Healthy Habits You Should Try This Year
2021 hasn’t started quite how we’d hoped, but that doesn't mean you can't still get healthier, fitter and stronger this year. It can be hard to find the motivation to stay active whilst the gym is shut, we get that. But that doesn’t mean all is lost – and we’re here to help. Try these 6 healthy habits to kickstart your year at home.
Drink more water
Did you know that approximately 60% of the human body is made up of water and is essential for many bodily functions? When you look at it like that, it’s not surprising that hydration is so important - but it can be difficult to achieve.
Not only does drinking enough water help our brain function, kidney function and digestion it can also improve your workouts by helping to prevent cramps and reduce the chance of dizziness during exercise.
In the UK, the guidelines suggest drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day to replace normal water loss. However, factors such as how much you exercise (especially if you get sweaty!) and the climate of your country can increase how much liquid you need to stay hydrated.
Do you drink enough water throughout the day? It’s a simple habit that we can all improve on by making sure we have access to water wherever we are. Keeping a reusable water bottle to hand will encourage you to drink more throughout the day, rather than only reaching for it when your dehydration cues kick in.
Get 6 - 8 hours of sleep
Sleep is a powerful tool and it’s recommended that you aim to get 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep not only helps to improve your brain function and lower stress, but it also has many benefits for your fitness journey.
Quality sleep can help to enhance muscle recovery through the release of human growth hormone (HGH) and also help weight management through the regulation of leptin and ghrelin – the hormones which signal when you feel full or hungry.
Why not start a sleep diary this year? Tracking your sleep can be a handy way to notice patterns such as struggling to fall to sleep after a stressful day at work and help highlight areas you may want to take action on. Creating a bedtime routine can also be a great habit to help you sleep and feel better. Switching off devices before bed and listening to sleep meditation are two ways you could improve your bedtime routine.
Plan out your meals
Spending a little time to plan out your meals for the week can be helpful in not only staying on track but minimising food waste too. Think of it like planning out your week at work or your training regime, a little extra planning goes a long way.
If we have healthy, nutritious food and snacks to hand that makes it much easier to eat well than if we leave it up to chance. When we’re hungry we’re much less likely to make a healthy choice, so having things planned out will help you eat tasty, nutritious food that helps you reach your goals.
Another great habit is to double up on recipes – so you make something yummy for dinner and make double. That way you then have tasty and nutritious leftovers for lunch the next day. Consider this when planning in your meals for the week, and you’ll soon find you’re eating better and also saving time cooking!
We know it can be difficult to get your steps in during lockdown. But building a habit of moving more is not about hiking up a mountain or walking 20 miles a day. It’s about making better choices with your movement to help increase your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, also known as NEAT.
NEAT refers to the energy expended (calories burned) for everything you do that isn’t sleep, eating or exercise. This can be things such as walking to the shops, cleaning the house, walking to the kitchen to grab lunch or taking the stairs instead of the lift. These small bits of movement all help to increase the calories your body burns, so if your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight why not try to make some small switches this year. It all adds up and will make all the difference towards your health and fitness goals!
Prioritise Rest and Recovery
Although you may find yourself less active than normal, it’s still important to prioritise rest and recovery. Rest days let your body repair and stop you from burning out. In the long run, that means you can work out harder and perform better. So, it’s a win, win if you want to build healthy habits that stick.
Remember, there is a fine balance between having the dedication to reach your goals and ignoring your bodies cues to slow down. So, think about planning your rest days in like you would your workouts, and listen to your body when it needs to rest.
Set your goals for the week
Planning and prepping your week makes you more likely to get it done. Essentially, a plan is a commitment to take action and helps you to see a clear journey towards reaching your goals. That makes it much easier to motivate yourself when you can physically see what you need to get done that day, and how that will take you one step closer to your end target.
Why not try setting goals this week? This could be things such as doing 4 workouts that week or drinking 8 glasses of water per day. The important thing with goal setting is to make it measurable. That way you can clearly track your progress and how far you have left to go.
It can also be really handy to have someone to keep you accountable. Having a virtual buddy is also a great way to turn your goals into reality – having someone going through the same thing helps to keep you motivated and accountable, and more likely to stick with it.
What other healthy habits do you recommend or will you be trying this year? Share them with the rest of the PureGym community on our social channels.