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How to cultivate healthy habits

Published:Monday | April 9, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Even if you have already broken your New Year's resolution, not to worry, you can just start all over again as if nothing happened. And, to get you going, here are some health and fitness tips for a healthier you.

1. Eat your vegetables. You may have been hearing this since you were a child and it's true, have your vegetables.

2. Make water your best friend. It is recommended that you should have eight glasses of water each day, but if you can't achieve this, just make a conscious effort to drink as much water as possible each day.

3. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. In a country full of so many delicious fruits, take a bite of one locally grown fruit before shovelling that candy bar whenever your sweet tooth beckons.

4. Exercise. Yes, the dreaded E word. But it can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of the elevator once a day then slowly increase this habit.

5. Don't smoke. Do we really have to say this? The Surgeon General warns that smoking may be dangerous to your health.

6. Everything is fine in moderation. This includes drinking and eating high-fat foods such as burgers and fries.

7. We all need our beauty sleep. During sleep is when the body repairs itself, so try and get your eight hours each night.

8. A little chocolate to your health. Studies suggest that flavanoids in dark chocolate may curb levels of bad cholesterol, improve circulation, and regulate blood pressure. However, too much chocolate can lead to weight gain. Eat one ounce of chocolate a day instead of other sweets.

9. Get your healthy fats. Salmon, herring and sardines contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against heart disease, some cancers, and arthritis. According to WebMD, studies suggest two servings of fatty fish per week can lower your chances of dying from heart disease.

10. Eat bananas. They are rich in potassium, which is important to muscle contractions, bone health and a healthy blood pressure.

11. Eat your vegetables. Add more vegetables to your diet by blending vegetables in your favourite fruit juices.

12. Drink green tea. Green tea contains catechins, a type of phytochemical that may briefly affect the metabolism and stimulate the body to burn abdominal fat. One may need to drink the hot green tea several times per day.

13. Add sweet potatoes to your diet. Sweet potatoes are a hearty starch option with fibre, vitamin A, and lycopene which are all heart healthy. Sweet potatoes also have a low glycemic index and won't cause a quick spike in blood sugar.

14. Eat oats. Eating oats can help to reduce bad cholesterol and help keep blood sugar levels stable over time.

15. Drink water. Drinking water, diluted fruit juice or a sports drink, to rehydrate after an hour of activity, will provide carbohydrates for energy plus minerals to replace sodium, potassium and magnesium lost in sweat.

16. Dairy is healthy. Milk, cheese, and yoghurt are good sources of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Choose the skim or low fat dairy variety to keep bones and teeth strong and prevent osteoporosis.

17. Get walking. Start a walking programme. It's one of the simplest forms of exercise to begin.

18. Laugh a lot. Especially in these days of stress. Get some happy endorphins going.

20. Sex is good for you. Have lots of sex with one faithful partner and use a condom, burn the fat and wear a constant smile!