Six Ways to increase health and well-being

What is well-being? Well-being is how we feel and function on a personal and social level as well as how we evaluate our lives.

1. Increase hours of sleep. Research shows that lack of sleep has many detrimental health and wellbeing side effects to the human body – fatigue, low energy levels, short temper, obesity, diabetes and heart disease and it effects our short term memory .

The National Sleep Foundation have put together a table which shows how many hours sleep we should be aiming for each night. They do mention that sleep duration varies from person to person and age group to age group. The recommendations are based on sleep, not the time you go into and out of bed.

Table taken from Hirshkowitz et al (2015, p.41)

If you get enough sleep it can aid weight loss, improve mood and irritability, our immune system and help prevent diabetes and heart disease.

2. Increase activity levels either through walking or cycling to work. Simple ways to increase walking are to get off at the station/stop prior to your usual stop. Just 10 minutes walking a day at a brisk pace, this is faster than usual increasing your heart rate, can help improve your fitness. Riding, specifically looking at riding to and from work increases our overall health, with the benefits outweighing the risks according to Johan de Hartog, who found that the benefits of cycling where 9 times larger than the risks, taking into consideration air pollution and traffic accidents.

If you are looking to increase your walking why not register the NHS Active10 program https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/active10/home#ZQBDFiqsaz1tSRID.97

3. Get Apping! Look to purchase or download an App that is specific to you, whether it’s a couch to 5k app, an app for stretching or using in the gym or even for a home workout. Any of these are designed to help with behaviour change and they are not all bad if they are getting you to meet the government guidelines for health and wellbeing. Word of warning on Apps, research does show that the more expensive apps are more likely to promote health and prevent disease (Eysenbach, 2012).

4. Join a local club. Many local clubs cater for all abilities, from beginners to advanced. Search the internet to find your local club. This can be anything from running, to cycling, athletics to swimming. For example, for people wishing to get back playing sports such as netball, dodgeball, volleyball but don’t have a team to play for can register interest at https://www.gomammoth.co.uk/netball/brighton/

5. Hydration. Being dehydrated can lead to fatigue and tiredness as well as overeating. In the body our thirst receptors can get confused for the feeling of hunger, so instead of reaching for a glass of water we reach for food. Staying hydrated can increase our performance at work and in fitness as we have more energy and better concentration. Staying hydrated also helps with weight loss and helping our skin. Ideally water is the best choice for staying hydrated, why not add slices of lemon or limes to your water bottle for a bit a flavour. If you have just finished exercise the milk is the best recovery drink to take.

6. Get moving with a friend. We all have friends and family who are likely to be looking to start a health kick. Starting something with a friend helps us skip less sessions, as accountable to someone, workout for longer, try something new, as a buddy to try it with, push yourself more, team work and the challenge of pushing each other along, recovery, you both will help keep each other on the right path and make sure each other sticks to healthy choices.

 

Further reading and references  

Get Apping – Eysenbach, G. (2012). There’s an App for That: Content Analysis of aid Health and Fitness Apps. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 14 (3) : e72

Sleep – Hirshkowitz, M, Whiton, K, Albert,  S.M, Alessi, C, Bruni, O,  DonCarlos, L, Hazen, N, Herman, J, Katz, E.S,Kheirandish-Gozal, L,Neubauer, D.N, O’Donnell, A.E, Ohayon, M, Peever, J, Rawding, R, Sachdeva, R, C, Setters, B, Vitiello, M,V, Catesby Ware, J, Adams Hillard, P.J. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Journal of the National Sleep Foundation. 1 : 40-43.

Increase activity levels – Johan de Hartog, J., Boogaard, H., Nijland, H., and Hoek, G. (). Do the Health Benefits of Cycling Outweigh the Risks? Environmental Health Perspectives. 118 (8) : 1109-1116

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