The holidays are a time for giving to others. But it’s also important to give to yourself. And the most important gift? The gift of health.
It doesn’t have to involve a grandiose plan or major life overhaul. In fact, if you just make three changes, you can lengthen your life dramatically and make it more enjoyable. What are they? Read on.
1. Stop smoking
This, according to the Surgeon General, is the single most important step you can take to improve the length and quality of your life. With each puff, you’re breathing in at least 4,000 chemicals, raising your risk for heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, and cancer, not to mention bad breath and wrinkles. Every year in this country over 444,000 deaths can be attributed to tobacco use, making it the leading cause of preventable death.
And quitting will free up some cash for gifts! Smoking is expensive. The average price of a pack of cigarettes is $6. Smokers also pay more for health and life insurance and they lose money on the resale value of their cars and homes.
Plan ahead, set a quit date, and mark it in your calendar. Tell family and friends that you’re going to quit, get rid of your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. And do a thorough cleaning to rid your clothes, house and car of smoke smell.
You don’t have to—and shouldn’t—go it alone. Only about 10 percent of those who try to quit cold turkey on their own succeed. Call 1-800-QUITNOW (1-800-784-8669) to be automatically routed to your state quitline. Most are staffed with a well-trained counselor, many of whom are former smokers themselves.
2. Spend less time sitting.
You know that formal exercise is important. But even if you do take a daily walk, sitting in a chair most of the day puts you in danger of heart disease. In one study, university researchers analyzed the lifestyles of more than 17,000 men and women over about 13 years. They found that people who sit for most of the day are 54 percent more likely to die of heart attacks. Even those who met the guidelines for physical activity that sat more had a greater mortality risk than those who sat less.1
If your job is desk-bound, get up and move as much as possible during the day. You may even want to consider a standing desk.
Switch up other typically seated activities with a little standing time.
A few ideas:
- Go to the mall instead of shopping online.
- Park in the spot furthest away from the store.
- Play an action video game with your children or grandchildren (not sitting).
- Read your morning paper standing up.
3. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
Yes, you hear this advice all the time. But it really, really, REALLY matters. In a British study, researchers looked at the eating habits of more than 65,000 adults who were at least 35 years of age at the beginning of the study and followed them over a 7-year period.
They found that those who ate at least 7 servings of non-starchy vegetables and fruit were 33 percent less likely to die from any cause than those who ate less than one serving daily. What’s more, vegetables were found to be more protective than fruits.2
Seven servings may sound like a lot, but it’s more doable than you think. For vegetables, one serving is 1 cup raw, 1/2 cup cooked or 1/2 cup juice. For fruit, one serving is a small piece of fresh fruit, 2 tablespoons dry fruit or 1/2 cup unsweetened fruit juice.
Some hints on how to get more into your day:
- Plan meals around a vegetable main dish, instead of a meat one; vegetable stir-fry, pizza with cauliflower crust, vegetable soup.
- Start every meal with a fresh green salad.
- Chop some vegetables into tomato sauces or soups.
- Use cooked, pureed vegetables to thicken stews, soups, and gravies.
Of course, you’ll find plenty of vegetables and fruits in the Mediterranean Diet (our favorite diet plan) where they exert their protective health benefits.
When you’re getting gifts this holiday season, don’t forget to get the most important gift for yourself. The gift of health.
About Endurance Products Company
Endurance Products Company has been a trusted source of quality dietary supplements since 1978. Our sustained-release and extended-release tablets feature a unique vegetable wax matrix that releases nutrients in a slow, steady manner over a period of hours for optimal nutrient absorption and retention.
1. Katzmarzyk PT, Church TS, Craig CL, Bouchard C. Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(5):998-1005. PMID: 19346988.
2. Oyebode O, Gordon-Dseagu V, Walker A, Mindell JS. Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality: analysis of Health Survey for England data. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2014;68(9):856-62. PMID: 24687909.