Between work and socialising, most 20-somethings probably don't put much thought into their future health. But just like investing in a pension plan, there are advantages to prioritising efforts at an earlier age. Elisabeth Clare, founder and director of MBST UK, has shared her top tips for young women wanting to take an active role in their general wellbeing.
Focus on bone health
Even though you may not be too concerned about your bones right now, looking after them will help to prevent the risk of fractures and the development of musculoskeletal disorders like osteoporosis.
"You can build strong bones by ensuring your calcium intake is correct from childhood; getting enough vitamin D and vitamin K which help with calcium absorption and regulation; and eating foods rich in magnesium and potassium," she advised. "Foods that are great for bone health are tinned fish, wild salmon, milk, cheese, green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale, figs, tofu, and nuts. Weight-bearing exercise such as walking, dancing, and even gardening is also great for ensuring bone health."
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Take the stairs
Making small mindful changes to your daily routines can help to increase blood flow and raise your heart rate more often.
"Commit to small changes such as taking the stairs in the office instead of the lift, walking to the shop instead of driving and why not challenge yourself to complete 15 squats or jumping jacks whilst you're waiting for the kettle to boil," noted Elisabeth. "Small incremental steps to increasing your heart rate at regular intervals can help to achieve huge benefits such as improved mood, lower blood pressure, stronger bones, and better heart health now and in later life."
Eat your fruit and vegetables
Eating a well-balanced diet, filled with lots of fruit and vegetables, helps to ensure that your body has the nutrients it needs to work effectively.
"Without balanced nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and low performance. Choosing a diet that is low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt will help to ensure that your body is fuelled appropriately. If you have a sweet tooth, try adding a natural sweetener like cinnamon or fruit to water, switch sugar for stevia and opt for dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Your teeth will thank you too!" the expert insisted.
Sit up straight
Bad posture can contribute to a variety of health issues, from breathing difficulties to digestion problems and spinal curvature.
"By focusing on your posture from a young age; sitting up straight, keeping your feet flat on the floor, taking movement breaks, and investing in the appropriate equipment, you'll be helping to prevent future pain and problems such as osteoporosis or discitis," she said.
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Regular Yoga and mobility
Yoga can help to alleviate some frustrating aches, pains and stiffness, but it can also highlight an issue or injury in the body that you were previously unaware of.
"There are plenty of free online classes on the Internet to get you started but the most important thing to remember is stick with it, as with all positive habits, because the small wins come little and often and turn into big wins. Your body will thank you in 20 years' time if you start today!" Elisabeth added.