Well, it seems we skipped past spring, as summer has already been in full bloom! Is your body in need of some summer cleaning? Do you find yourself sitting for the majority of the day, choosing processed food, or feeling tired and stressed out frequently? Here are 5 tips to getting your body functioning back to normal.
Most individuals do not get sufficient sleep each night. The American Sleep Association reports that over 35% of adults get less than 7 hours a sleep per night! An additional 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder (this can include insomnia, or sleep apnea – conditions that prevent quality sleep) (1). Do your best to call it a day early enough so that you get your hours in. People who are sleep deprived are tired the next day, making them less likely to exercise (3), more likely to eat higher calorie foods (4), increased hunger and decreased cognition (6). In other words, poor sleep results in sluggish behavior and not the healthiest food choices the next day.
Fortunately, this relationship goes both ways! Getting more physical activity helps you sleep better at night, and getting more quality sleep will reduce your chances of binging on junk food the next day (8). It’s a win win! Sleep is essential for recovery, relieving stress, and optimizing brain and hormone function. Prioritize your top things to accomplish during the day so that you have time to rest up and recharge.
Choose Whole Foods
Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store instead of in the aisles. Pick foods that grow out of the ground and foods that eat things that grow out of the ground. Fruits, veggies, lean proteins, healthy fats. Berries are full of anti-oxidants and can help protect against cell damage that can lead to poor functioning. Vegetables contains lots of vitamins and minerals to keep tissues and bones healthy and strong, as well as providing fiber to keep your gut happy. Lean proteins like grass-fed beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs help maintain muscle mass and provide the building blocks for tissue recovery.
Beans are a great way to stretch a buck and fill you up with protein and fiber! Salmon and avocados are a great source of omega-3 fats, which provide useful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation disrupts how cells normally function and is a major contributor to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc. Opting for a monounsaturated fat such as olive oil is a great way to prevent inflammation and keep your tissues in working order (7). While the occasional treat is all well and good, the majority of your diet should come from whole foods, not processed foods.
Sit Less, Move More
If you have a job that includes long periods of sitting, get up at least every hour and take a quick lap and stretch. Sitting for too long results in shortened and weak muscles, and increases risk of developing chronic diseases (2). Get up and get moving not only just to feel better, but also to improve long term health! Activating your muscles with a quick walk and stretch improves blood circulation, insulin sensitivity, and relieves tension. Even if you are meeting the physical activity guidelines (150 minutes of aerobic activity per week, 2 days of muscle strengthening exercises) (5), being inactive for the majority of the day still puts you at a higher risk of developing conditions like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, etc. Stay active during the day and find exercises that you enjoy!
How often do you find yourself not paying attention to tasks you’re currently doing? Does your mind wander off thinking about things to get done? Spending some time clearing these thoughts and actively thinking about your present state, feelings, desires, and goals can reduce stress and place emphasis on what really matters. Focus on the things you can control and let go of negative thoughts that don’t help you accomplish anything.
You may find that being more aware throughout the day allows you to worry less and focus more on what matters. Practicing yoga or meditation, or using a meditation app can be a great way to include mindfulness into your everyday life. Another way to be more mindful is to decrease screen time. Allow yourself time to wake up first before you reach for the phone and scroll through the ‘gram, or glue yourself to a screen while you’re eating. Think about goals you want to accomplish for the day or take the time to be aware of how you’re feeling in the moment and see if that needs to be adjusted.
Drink More Water
Our bodies are made up of mostly water, and even being 1% dehydrated can alter our body’s cooling system, with more serious consequences with higher levels of dehydration. You wouldn’t go on a road trip without filling your gas tank, make sure your body is hydrated so it can work properly! Being well hydrated can prevent headaches, improve cognition, reduce risk of heat stroke, and optimize physical performance (9). Hydration is especially important if you are exercising to replace fluids lost through sweat! Additionally, sugary beverages like soda and sweetened teas hold extra calories. Replace these drinks with water (try adding lemon juice or fresh fruit for extra flavor!) to reduce unnecessary calories, and see if you notice a difference in your energy levels!
Try Some Summer Cleaning
Try these tips for a couple of weeks and compare that to how you feel now. You’ll be amazed by how much better you’ll feel, think, and move after these simple tips. Happy spring!
In health and strength,
- Assoc, A., Sleep, A., Disorders, S., Treatments, S., Professionals, F., & News, S. et al. (2018). Sleep Statistics – Latest Research & Data | American Sleep Assoc. Retrieved from https://www.sleepassociation.org/about-sleep/sleep-statistics/
- Barone Gibbs, B., Pettee Gabriel, K., Reis, J., Jakicic, J., Carnethon, M., & Sternfeld, B. (2015). Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Associations Between Objectively Measured Sedentary Time and Metabolic Disease: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Diabetes Care, 38(10), 1835-1843. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0226
- Bromley, L., Booth, J., Kilkus, J., Imperial, J., & Penev, P. (2012). Sleep Restriction Decreases the Physical Activity of Adults at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Sleep, 35(7), 977-984. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1964
- Greer, S., Goldstein, A., & Walker, M. (2013). The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications, 4(1). doi: 10.1038/ncomms3259
- Guidelines Index – 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines – health.gov. (2018). Retrieved from https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/
- Kilkus, J., Booth, J., Bromley, L., Darukhanavala, A., Imperial, J., & Penev, P. (2011). Sleep and Eating Behavior in Adults at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Obesity, 20(1), 112-117. doi: 10.1038/oby.2011.319
- Lugavere, M., & Grewal, P. Genius foods.
- Study: Physical Activity Impacts Overall Quality of Sleep. (2018). Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-news/study-physical-activity-impacts-overall-quality-sleep
- Trainer Tips: Hydration. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/trainer-tips/hydration/