Chiropractic care does a lot to improve spinal health and manage pain, but did you know there are simple, free changes you can make today to improve your health?
People have begun to recognize that their lifestyle plays a significant role in their overall health. Diet, exercise, and other habits can either promote a healthy spine, or they can do the opposite. Keep reading to discover six simple lifestyle changes you can begin implementing today for a healthier, stronger you tomorrow.
1. Get Moving!
The average American spends the majority of his or her waking hours seated. Whether you spend your day sitting in front of a computer or your evenings watching TV, or both, the result is the same: a heightened risk for a whole host of health issues. These include increased risk for a variety of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers.
An inactive lifestyle also leads to back problems, thanks to bone loss and the weight gain that typically accompanies an inactive lifestyle. Luckily, changing this is as simple as creating more movement opportunities every day. This takes the form of both formal exercise and greater mobility throughout your day.
In addition to a formal exercise program, getting up and moving around every 30 minutes or so helps improve spinal health and overall wellness. This doesn’t have to be significant activity. If you’re at work, get away from your desk, maybe walk up and down a couple of flights of stairs, or walk around the building. If you’re at home watching TV, stand up and do some jumping jacks, jog in place, or simply walk around the room.
Increasing your overall activity, even if it isn’t through a gym membership, goes a long way toward improving your health.
2. Strength-Building Exercise
Exercise comes with an astonishing variety of health benefits:
- Improves blood pressure
- Lowers cholesterol
- Alleviates depression and balances mood
- Lowers risk of numerous diseases, from cancer to diabetes
- Improves the immune system
There are many more examples, but that gives you a good idea of the health benefits of exercise. One item in particular, though, is especially important for spinal health, and that is strength-building exercise. Also called weight-bearing exercise, these activities pit your bones and muscles against gravity and are a key component of bone health. Women, in particular, are encouraged to engage in weight-bearing exercise to protect themselves from osteoporosis.
Walking, hiking, weight training, and dancing are all examples of weight-bearing exercise. Swimming and bicycling, though great forms of exercise, do not qualify as weight-bearing exercises. Incorporate a mixture of the two, with a goal of at least two hours of aerobic activity each week.
Before embarking on an exercise program, talk to your primary physician, especially if you have any health issues.
3. Get More Rest
Believe it or not, this may be the most difficult item on this list for many people. What’s more, it’s very hard to quantify how much sleep is enough sleep, because there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Eight hours a night is the standard, but some people need less, while others need more. For example, children continue to need nine to 10 hours a night through their teens.
Sleep is when our bodies renew and rejuvenate. Damaged cells repair themselves as we sleep, improving both physical and mental functions. Periodic breaks throughout the day also help revive you. Try meditation, which is a powerful tool to improve mental health and takes only 10 or 15 minutes to be effective.
Begin getting ready to sleep an hour before lights out, by relaxing with a book or journaling. Shut off the electronic devices, and establish a nightly bedtime to help your body prepare for sleep. Start out aiming for eight hours a night. Over time, your body will tell you how many hours of sleep you need.
4. Eat Right
A balanced diet, which is full of lean proteins, plenty of fruits and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and calcium-rich dairy products, helps build strong, healthy bones. Cut out as much prepackaged, processed food as you can.
In addition to milk, yogurt, and cheese, get plenty of calcium and vitamin D through natural food sources. These include leafy green vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach; citrus fruits; beans and legumes like black beans, peanuts, and tofu; fish; and nuts and seeds.
Avoid foods high in sodium, as these deplete calcium levels.
5. Stop Smoking
Smoking cigarettes damages more than your lungs. It also negatively affects the body’s ability to heal itself, and reduces bone density. This is because nicotine lowers estrogen levels in both men and women, which is essential to bone health. Estrogen helps your bones maintain calcium and other minerals that help make bones stronger. Quit smoking today; your body will thank you.
6. Seek Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care helps patients with specific complaints, such as injury following an accident, or simply the bodily wear and tear of everyday life. Spinal misalignment causes a wide variety of issues, including pain, inflammation, and restricted movement. In addition to the above lifestyle changes, regular chiropractic care promotes a healthy spine and overall wellness.
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