5 simple ways to improve your health

July 22, 2015 by Kathy Nellor

There’s all kinds of information available these days that outline why living a healthy lifestyle is important. Research shows eating right, exercising, avoiding bad habits like smoking and too much alcohol may lead to longer life.

Unfortunately we have a long way to go to turn around present lifestyles. A new study in the June issue of JAMA Internal Medicine shows less than one-third of Americans are currently at a healthy weight, with the rest of the population either overweight or obese.

How can we convince people that there are more benefits from living healthy than simply preventing disease and postponing death?

Through my experience as a wellness professional, I have seen first-hand that individuals who are healthier are also happier and often have a better sense of well-being.

Consider dopamine, the chemical in your brain. It is a neurotransmitter that is necessary to feel pleasure and happiness. Scientists know now that moving the body is one of the best ways to release dopamine and generate pleasure in our brains.

Recently, Dr. Richard J. Davidson, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told the Today Show that there’s now overwhelming evidence to indicate that happier people are actually healthier.

That doesn’t mean a "don’t worry, be happy" philosophy will lead to longer life. You have to put time and energy in.

The following is a list of daily acts that can bring you joy, vitality and the gift of well-being. Happiness will come as you practice them.

1. Get enough sleep. Shoot for seven to eight hours each night.

2. Move more. Get up and move every 10 to 15 minutes for one minute. Wear a pedometer, and track your steps and make a goal of getting more steps in your day.

3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories and can reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure and some cancers.

4. Focus on the numbers five, three and one. Meditate for five minutes a day; write down three good things that happened in your day; and do one random act of kindness.

5. Choose who you hang around with carefully. Smoking, obesity, happiness and even loneliness are contagious. So it is important to choose like-minded friends that support your positive lifestyle habits.

Just remember, when you are less stressed, healthier and more energized, you may add more life to your years and years to your life.