Ok, that may be overpromising a little, but here are a few steps you can take during the month and see if you feel better. The keys to longevity and less disease are simple ones you probably already know: 1. Sleep well, 2. Exercise regularly 3. Eat healthy 4. Keep a normal body weight 5. Manage stress 6. Have good friends/family social interactions. 7. Quit smoking/vaping. 8. Quit alcohol or drink 1-2x a week or less. 9. Quit using illegal drugs 10. I’m also adding, take social media breaks.
I’ll go through each topic each month, but you can start on any one of those that would be easiest for you. I’m going to start with exercise.
First of all, if you barely do anything and consider yourself sedentary, see your doctor ahead of time, to make sure your body can take the increase work of exercise without injury or having a heart attack.
What’s a good exercise program like? It should include stretching, strength training, and aerobic activity. You also need easy or rest days as well. Sometimes when you start exercising, it makes you want to eat more, so be careful of that. Unless you take up competitive bodybuilding or long-distance running, you are also not burning enough calories to really lose a lot of weight.
The most benefits come from people who aren’t doing anything who start to do something, and people who are doing something going to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise 4-5 days a week and strength training at least 2 days a week. More than that isn’t necessarily helping you. In studies of hunter-gatherer cultures, they do spend a lot of the day sitting around, or walking slowly, and about 4 days a week running 3-6 miles. This may be what our bodies are adapted to do the best.
Walking is the easiest way to start getting some exercise. You can look up a variety of programs to help you gradually increase your distance, but you can also do little things like walk up the stairs instead of the elevator, park far away from the entrance to buildings, walk around the building before going in, and so on. This is where a pedometer of some sort can help you keep track of your steps and keep you motivated.
If you hate the idea of “programmed exercise” try joining a recreational league of some sort and play a sport 2-3x a week. Or take up dancing lessons, karate, tai chi, etc.
Exercise has many benefits. You might lose some weight, but probably you won’t lose more than a few pounds unless you really burn a lot of calories or really cut back on how many calories you are eating. For example, a brisk 1 mile walk might burn about 30-35 calories. An apple has about 50 calories in it. See what I mean?
However, exercise really helps your body rebalance itself. It can lead to better sleep, better moods, less depression or anxiety, and helps you live longer with more mobility as you age. It reduces the likelihood of many cancers. It helps you feel better. Frankly, if it came in a pill, it would be a blockbuster drug! Get off the couch and do something good for yourself!