Whether you spend long hours on the road or behind a computer screen, balancing personal wellness and work can be a challenge for many. However, taking the time to invest in yourself and prioritize your health is incredibly important. Werner Enterprises Wellness Manager Ali J. provides six tips on how to improve your health and wellness.
1. Eat Something Green
Everyone from Popeye to our parents has told us to eat our vegetables, but has anyone ever told you why vegetables are healthy for you?
Green vegetables are loaded with antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can help decrease cancer risk. They also are a great source of fiber (think green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and other lettuces), which can help decrease total cholesterol, increase HDL cholesterol and lower your risk for heart disease. Studies have also shown that green vegetables improve amino acid absorption, which can help build muscles.
A quick way to work in green vegetables for the day is in a side salad made with kale, cooked spinach in eggs, cut up green pepper as a snack or leafy veggies mixed in a smoothie.
2. Go for a 10-Minute Walk
An individual that works in the transportation industry is usually very busy, but it’s important to take a quick break and get some exercise while you can. Did you know that you can start to reap the benefits of exercise in just 10 minutes? Taking a 10-minute daily walk can improve circulation, decrease blood pressure, and strengthen bones.
It’s best to walk for at least 10 minutes at a time to elevate your heart rate and improve oxygen uptake. If you can, walk at a faster pace for one minute, and then normal speed for the next minute. Repeat for five cycles to get the most out of your 10-minute walk.
3. Have an Attitude of Gratitude
It does not have to be Thanksgiving for us to express everything that we are thankful for. In fact, daily practices of gratitude have tons of real health benefits that can spread well beyond late November.
If I told you that people who had an “attitude of gratitude” slept better, had improved heart health and a decreased risk of depression, I bet the word “thank you” would mean a lot more. Being gracious is also associated with fewer headaches, decreased muscle soreness and increased motivation for physical activity.
Gratitude can be practiced through daily affirmations that are written, or simply ones that are spoken. These can include thanking your body for being strong, a co-worker for solving a problem or a partner or friend for a kind gesture.
4. Prioritize Your Dental Hygiene
Your mouth is the first line of defense against bacteria leading into your lungs and digestive system. Poor oral hygiene, which includes not brushing your teeth, flossing, or having regular dental cleanings is associated with both heart disease and lung infections, like pneumonia.
For best brushing, it’s ideal to start by flossing to get bacteria, food and other particles out from between the teeth. Then, use a soft-bristled or electric toothbrush for two minutes at least twice a day while holding the brush gently against your teeth. Position the brush at a slight 45-degree angle toward the gums and try to spend an even amount of time in each area of your mouth. That’s just four minutes to better health.
5. Take Five Deep Breaths
According to a Harvard health study, deep breathing can positively impact stress levels by normalizing pulse and decreasing blood pressure.
To start, make sure both feet are flat on the floor and your chin is upright. Breathe deeply through your nose and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Be sure to feel your stomach move as you inhale and exhale, this ensures that you are taking a deep breath. You can begin to feel the benefits after just one deep breath and by completing five deep breaths, you can focus on getting a fuller inhale and exhale with each breath. For further relaxation benefits from deep breathing, feel yourself settle into your chair with each progressing breath.
You might not believe it, but there are some serious health benefits to laughter. Laughter is great medicine for our bodies. According to the Mayo Clinic, laugher relieves stress, improves mood, helps with coping and much more.
When we laugh, there is a total body response that includes increased circulation, oxygen uptake and muscle relaxation. By improving the flow of oxygenated blood through the body and relaxing our muscles, the body naturally de-stresses, decreases blood pressure and relieves pain. Laughter, along with positive thinking, amps up immune system functionality helping to ward off illness and depression.