10 healthy choices to make in 2024

Posted in , by Echelon Health

Making the right choices for your body and health isn’t always easy. Life can get busy and stressful, and finding the time to prioritise your health can be hard. But doing so can be incredibly important. 

In this blog post, we provide you with 10 healthy choices you can make to enhance and safeguard your health over the short term, helping you stay in good shape throughout the rest of the year and beyond.

1. Exercise regularly

Everyone may know that exercise is good for you, but it’s not something most people do enough of. 

Adults between 19 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week, ideally spread out over a four or five-day period. And contrary to popular belief, this does not need to be high-intensity workouts at the gym. 

Exercises like walking, jogging, cycling and swimming all contribute to your recommended amount of activity. So, don’t feel as though you can’t exercise regularly if you don’t have a gym membership. Going for a walk or a gentle swim can make all the difference. 

The most important part is to do these exercises regularly. That way, you will help enhance not just your cardiovascular health but also your overall physical and mental health. 

2. Swap red meat for healthier alternatives

While red meat does contain protein, it can be bad for your body in excessive amounts; consuming high amounts of red meat has been shown to increase your risk of both bowel cancer and coronary heart disease

As such, try cutting down the amount of red meat in your diet and, instead, swap it out for lean proteins or fish. 

Better yet, opt for plant-based options such as beans, eggs, tofu, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt and wholegrains. Or, if you’d prefer a plant-based meat alternative, try to go for whole food options made from healthier ingredients like mushrooms. 

3. Recharge your sleep 

If you’re struggling to get enough sleep at night, you’re not alone. Around one in five adults in the UK don’t get enough sleep each night, despite sleep being crucial to our overall health and wellbeing. 

Some of the main benefits of sleep include: 

  • It supports healthy brain function
  • It repairs and restores your body 
  • It helps you conserve energy
  • It enhances concentration
  • It improves overall emotional and physical wellness

Not getting enough sleep can not only make you feel more tired the next day, but it can also increase your risk of several health conditions. 

Recharging your sleep in the right way will depend on you and the positive changes you make to enhance it. To boost your sleep most effectively, here are some useful ideas to think about: 

  • Create and stick to a bedtime routine
  • Keep your room at your optimal temperature
  • Avoid caffeine or other stimulants like alcohol before bed
  • Put down your phone before bed
  • Have a relaxing bath or shower before bed
  • Engage in regular physical activity to decrease your energy levels

These small changes can make all the difference in your sleep health and, over time, the benefits can enhance your overall sense of wellbeing. 

4. Increase your vegetable intake

Everyone should aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day but with convenience often being favoured over health, it’s easy to not get enough. 

But, since they provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as vitamin C, fibre and antioxidants, a lack of fruit and vegetables in your diet can wreak havoc on your health. 

If you don’t enjoy the taste of them, why not try seasoning them well with spices like paprika, cumin and pepper? 

Not many people enjoy the taste of plain vegetables, so don’t be afraid to spice up their flavour to make them a bit more palatable. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time to prepare fresh vegetables, opt for frozen or tinned vegetables instead. 

Another good way to get extra vegetables into your diet is to add them to smoothies. Spinach and kale are relatively bland so shouldn’t add any extra flavour, but they will help bulk up the nutritional value of the foods you eat.

5. Decaffeinate your drinks

While caffeine can be a nice boost when you’re feeling tired, it can cause unpleasant symptoms. 

Regular caffeine intake can lead to conditions like insomnia, an increased heart rate, anxiety, heart palpitations and diarrhoea. So, try swapping to low or no-caffeine drinks instead. 

If you’re a tea drinker, green tea contains less caffeine than black tea, so could help you transition away from these higher caffeine-containing options. 

Decaffeinated drinks have also improved considerably over recent years, in terms of both taste and accessibility. Making a conscious effort to drink more decaffeinated tea or coffee could make a big difference to your health.  

6. Support your mental wellbeing

Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so make 2024 the year you work towards improving your emotional wellbeing. 

While you may not be able to ‘cure’ mental health conditions like depression, you can learn to alleviate feelings of anxiety and low moods by leading a healthier lifestyle.

Some of the best ways to support your mental wellbeing include: 

  • Taking up meditation or mindfulness
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Focusing on hobbies you enjoy in your free time
  • Not suffering in silence – always share your worries or feelings with someone you trust
  • Eat well for a healthy body and mind – for example, your body needs amino acids in protein to produce neurotransmitters which help regulate your mood

If you are struggling with poor mental health, you should always seek support from a licensed professional.

7. Cut down on alcohol

Alcohol consumption is measured in units and any more than 14 units a week can easily harm your health. Drinking a lot of units in one go is also bad for you, as your body will struggle to process such high amounts of alcohol in one go. 

Drinking more than 14 units a week regularly can increase your risk of: 

  • Mouth cancer
  • Throat cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Liver disease

Decreasing the amount of units you drink per week can support a lowered risk of future health problems and improved mental wellbeing. Essentially, the less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of developing alcohol-related health conditions will be. 

If you do drink alcohol, try to spread the units you consume throughout the week and make sure to stick to less than 14. 

8. Give up smoking

One of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK is smoking, with around 76,000 people dying each year. This is because smoking tobacco can increase your risk of over 50 serious health conditions, including lung cancer, as well as mouth, oesophagus and throat cancer. 

Giving up smoking can make a huge difference to your health – and relatively quickly too. After just one year of not smoking, your risk of having a heart attack halves. Even 72 hours of not smoking can help you breathe easier and boost your overall energy level.

While quitting can be a challenge, with the right support and tools, it can be done.

9. Protect your sexual health

One major health aspect that many people overlook is their sexual health. Regardless of your sexual orientation, anyone can catch sexually transmitted infections (STIs). And some, like chlamydia, do not cause any noticeable symptoms.

Left untreated, STIs can go on to cause fertility problems, increased risks of cancer and pregnancy complications. This is why having regular sexual health check-ups is important.

If you notice any changes in your sexual health or you haven’t had a check-up in the past year, book a test at a clinic to make sure that all aspects of your health are protected.

10. Undergo preventative health checks

One of the best changes you can make for your health in 2024 is to undergo a preventative health check. These health checks are designed with your future health in mind and can detect potential risk factors and problems before they become severe.

Some of the main things a preventative health check can provide include:

By undergoing a preventative health test, you can receive personalised advice based on your results and detect underlying conditions sooner

Book a health assessment with Echelon Health

Make the most of 2024 by prioritising your health and taking on board our ten top tips. 

By incorporating these tips into your daily routine and habits, you can stay on top of your health and enjoy the benefits of taking care of your wellbeing. But, before you do, always make sure to speak to your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes. 

To kickstart your journey to a healthier lifestyle, book a preventative health assessment with us. 

Our packages can be tailored to meet your needs and will provide you with all you need to know about your current health. Let 2024 be the year you take charge of your wellbeing with our support.