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Women's Health

Your Health Starts with You

Victoria Hanlon -Swisse Author
Written by Victoria Hanlon | Swisse Author

The power for change is right at your fingertips… literally. Making a decision to focus on your wellbeing doesn’t mean going from a committed couch-lover to entering a marathon, or signing up for a three week yoga retreat when you are yet to nail the downward facing dog. Rather, the path to wellness starts with you, making small changes to your everyday lifestyle. And the best part? Your toolkit for wellness is all around you.

Four women in activewear against white wall

Movement for every body

Some people make exercise look effortless, strolling into the office at 8am after an hour’s heavy gym session. We salute those people and aspire to be more like them. For the rest of us, it can feel like a challenge to incorporate movement into your day. Well, it needn’t be.

Thirty minutes of exercise per day3 is the recommended amount, with three 10 minute activity sessions just as effective as 30 minutes of continuous exercise4.

Make the most of your everyday activities and get creative! Think of movement as an opportunity and not an inconvenience:

  • Join/start a walking group to walk around the park.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.
  • Stop hunting for a parking spot near the entrance to the shops – park further away and walk the extra distance.
  • Try a new physical activity with friends (yoga, Zumba, tai chi, Pilates) instead of catching up for a coffee.
Two women doing reformer pilates with instructor

Food for thought

Think of food as something that nourishes your body and soul. Eat regular meals which include the main food groups, while limiting the amount of fat, sugar and salt you eat. The key food groups to focus on, according to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating1, are:

  • Grain (cereal) foods
  • Vegetables and legumes/beans
  • Fruit
  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives

Variety in your diet is important and helps you to obtain the various nutrients required by your body. Try creating meals with at least three food groups from the above list. For example, at breakfast, include some fruit with wholegrain cereal and reduced fat milk or yoghurt.

As we age, muscle mass and oestrogen levels can start to decline. Protein is your muscles’ friend and can help minimise the loss, says Swisse Accredited Practicing Dietitian Simone Austin. Simone suggests trying to have a protein source at each meal and snack. For example, eggs, yoghurt or milk with breakfast, lean meat, cheese or canned fish in your sandwich at lunch, and a lean piece of meat, fish or legumes in the evening. For oestrogen, which impacts bone density, Simone suggests including calcium-rich foods and those with vitamin D.

Woman sitting with a bowl of muesli and fruit

Mind over matter

While it’s easy to get engulfed in the everyday go-go-go lifestyle, taking time to nourish yourself mentally really is a key foundation for overall good health. Think you don’t have time to do this? Here’s three easy ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life:

Mindful breathing

Ok, so we get that you do this all day, every day. What we actually mean is to breath consciously and with purpose. Take a minute to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Inhale deeply through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing all your attention on the movement and flow of air. Let go of all your thoughts and be at one with your breath. Do this for a couple of minutes a day to steady and centre yourself.

Mindful appreciation

Set yourself a task every day to notice three things that you’re grateful for. Even better if they’re things that normally get taken for granted, such as having a home to live in, heating to keep you warm, green parkland near your work for lunchtime strolls. Really notice how they improve and enrich your life, and give thanks for them. The point is, we spend so much time aspiring to bigger and better things, that we can often miss the great things we already have.

Woman meditating in home office

Mindful sleeping

The emotional and physical benefits of a good night’s sleep are uncontested, however, many of us are not getting enough sleep or sleep that is poor quality. The optimum sleep duration is seven hours a night2 - you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to put all your mindfulness practices in place for the day ahead.

This Women’s Health Week and beyond, we encourage you to move more, nourish your body and become your version of healthy and strong, whatever that looks like.

References:

  1. https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/guidelines/australian-guide-healthy-eating
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/little-sleep-much-affect-memory-201405027136
  3. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/physical-activity-its-important
  4. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines