Don’t give up, take up

Don’t give up, take up

This year instead of giving up on bad habits, post-Christmas, why not adopt some positive new year resolutions and make 2016 your healthiest year ever?

You know how it is – come January, spurred on by weeks of excess, you swear off the bad stuff. Too much wine, too many ready meals and too many evenings slumped on the sofa make you vow to embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle. However, we’ve all been here before and we know that by the end of the month self-denial will be as appealing as the last stale mince pie. Small wonder that the only thing many of us feel inclined to give up on these days is giving up.

Seven ways to give your body a fresh start

The best way to approach lifestyle change is to work from the inside out, reflecting on what’s really important to your health and wellbeing. Then instead of imposing a punishing regime, take some positive actions that fire your enthusiasm. Here’s some starting points…

Go olive
Packed with healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory heart, breast and brain-protective plant compounds, olive oil is a key ingredient of the Mediterranean diet, the healthiest way to eat at midlife. Other sources of mono-unsaturates? Avocados, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds and their oils.

Join a waking group
Forget expensive gym memberships that you’ll most likely abandon within weeks. Instead take up something that’s free, fun, sociable and sustainable as well as great for your heart, bones and joints. Visit www.walkingforhealth.org.uk to find a group near you.

Spend more time in bed
Stress, overwork and those pesky night sweats can make sleep elusive at midlife. Simple steps like dimming lights an hour before bedtime, going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday, banishing technology from your bedroom and keeping the temperature at 15-19°C can help.

Eat chocolate (the darker the better)
Chocolate contains a wealth of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory plant compounds called flavanols with myriad potential benefits for your heart, brain, arteries, skin and more. For optimum effects eat just a couple of squares a day.

Go Latin
Latino dances and Latin-inspired fitness classes are a fun way to exercise. There are also studies which claim they help improve overall health, beat fatigue and boost energy, as well as burning body fat and raising levels of immune-boosting white blood cells. Time to sign up for a salsa, tango or a Zumba class.

Brew a cuppa
Tea and coffee are among the richest sources of health-boosting plant compounds called polyphenols, especially for midlife women, according to the Leeds Women's Wellbeing Study. Most fruit and veg are great sources of polyphenols too – one of the many good reasons to make sure you get your five-or-more a day.

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