Healthy Exercise Plan for 2012

1. Daily meditation sit for 10, 15, 20 minutes a day and just breathe. Pick the time of day and the length of time that works best for you. For me 20 minutes before bed works best. Start small and work your way up to longer times. Consistency is the key to maintaining the practice

2. Once a week make a meal with a new vegetable, grain or spice. Many different foods have great healing properties so get out of a food rut and set aside one day to make something new. Visit a farmers market to find local, seasonal food for the best quality and nutrition. Look online for cooking tips or recipes.

3. Try a new physical activity. Enjoy the outdoors? Go snowshoeing. Love to dance? Try Zumba. Want to work out some aggression? Give kickboxing a go. Every month try something new. Check community centres for drop in classes. Once you find something fun that gets your heart beating sign up for a series of classes. It’s easier to stay motivated when you have already paid for something.

4. Weekly low tech time. Walk through the woods, read a book down by the ocean, take pictures in the mountains, have a coffee at a local café and people watch. Whatever or wherever it should be electronic free. Let your mind slow down by taking some time to unplug.

5. Take probiotics and vitamin D, especially in the winter. I usually encourage a varied diet to get all the vitamins and minerals needed but these two supplements have a powerful impact on the overall health of the body.

6. 20-30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity. Find a jogging buddy, take a walk after dinner, go for a swim before work, take an exercise class at lunch.

7. Have a monthly health treatment. Many alternative therapies have multiple benefits. Try massage, homeopathy, cranio-sacral, acupuncture, osteopathy or reiki. Check with your extended health care provider to see which therapies are covered. Ask for a referral from a friend or trusted health care professional and see which ones work best for you on a physical and emotional level.

8. Volunteer. Find an organization or cause that resonates with you. Studies have shown volunteering has many health benefits, especially in older adults. Higher functional ability, increased longevity, lower incidence of depression and heart disease. Two hours a week is considered optimal. If making a weekly commitment doesn’t work for you many organizations have special events or busy times of year where extra help is needed.

9. Play. Create a new game, spend time with young kids and follow their lead. Most of our adult life is structured including the activities we take part in. Play is unstructured time that can help improve creativity and spontaneity.

10. Pick a brain activity. Crossword, puzzles, Sudoku or online brain games such as Brain Workshop- a Dual N-back game. Do it daily, weekly or whenever you have some spare time. Waiting for an appointment, on the bus, coffee break at work.

11. Treat yourself at home. Self massage is therapeutic and relaxing. Foot massage, head massage or hand massage are all accessible and require little skill to be beneficial. 10 – 15 minutes while watching the news or listening to a podcast is all it takes. Wanting to achieve more specific health benefits speak to an acupuncturist to give you tips on points that would benefit your condition and different techniques. There are also many books available on basic acupressure.

12. Keep a journal. Busy mind, unexpressed emotions, scattered thoughts can have a detrimental on ones health leading to insomnia, feelings of anger or frustration, poor concentration or difficulty completing tasks. By writing thoughts, feelings or things to do down it puts the mind at rest.

I hope these tips inspire you to take charge of your health this year and explore new ways to achieve optimal health. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please share here, on Facebook or twitter.

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