After the excesses of the festive season, the new year is the perfect time to make some simple, positive changes for the good of your physical and mental health. From checking your blood pressure and appraising your diet to ditching bad habits and starting a gentle exercise programme, here are our suggestions for putting your best foot forward for the coming year.
Check in with your health centre
When you’re planning to make some health changes, it’s worth speaking to a professional – your GP, practice nurse or healthcare assistant – to make sure you are up-to-date with routine checks such as cervical screening and vaccinations such as tetanus. They can also check your blood pressure (everyone should know their normal readings) and body mass index (BMI), and offer advice on diet, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption. It’s also an opportunity to mention any health worries you may have, and your doctor can organise further tests if necessary. If you’re over 40, you are eligible for an NHS Health Check, designed to spot early signs of serious conditions.
Get outside and embrace nature
There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, goes the saying. Before you hit the sweaty gym, consider wrapping up warmly and visiting a green space, whether it’s a park, common, field or woodland, for some gentle exercise. Research suggests that proximity to green spaces has a positive effect on cardiovascular health and stress and may even lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. And it’s been suggested that the more flora and fauna you encounter during your outdoor exercise, the better your psychological health too.
Upgrade your diet
Winter is a great time to take a closer look at your nutrition. Because our gloomy British autumn and winter makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D (the body makes vitamin D from sunlight on skin and it’s hard to get enough from foods), The Department of Health recommends we take a 10mcg daily vitamin D supplement.…