The latest research shows that regular physical activity not only provides a physical boost, it can help improve our mental health too, so it’s important to find the time to exercise. But if you don’t have space in your busy schedule for gym sessions, long bike rides or frequent trips to the pool, try making physical activity part of your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Or if you take a bus to work, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Or if you drive to work, don’t feel compelled to park as close as possible – choose another car park and finish your commute with a brisk walk.
Concerns about our health, climate change and animal welfare have driven a surge in the number of people adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet. And research has linked plant-based diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduced rates of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So switching to a meat-free Monday is a great way to sample some of the benefits of a vegetarian lifestyle without missing out on your bacon sandwich at the weekend. And thankfully, going vegetarian no longer means lentil soup or a bean burger for lunch - because there’s a whole new range of vegan dishes to enjoy, like jerked jackfruit tacos with grilled avocado.
Even if you have time for regular gym visits, pounding away on a running machine or spinning an exercise bike can quickly lose its appeal - so why not try something a bit more fun? Indoor sports like squash, badminton and netball are a great option now the nights are drawing in. And if you’re hoping to connect with likeminded people, joining a sports club is a great way to do it, and it’s far healthier than relying on social media. To find out what’s available in your area, visit your local leisure centre or scan notice boards at your nearest community hall – local clubs are always eager to share their skills with new members. Or get together with friends to enter a team in your local 5-a-side football, indoor cricket or indoor netball league.
Skip a treat
We all have a little indulgence we enjoy from time to time, like a slice of cake or an ice cream. But skipping the occasional treat could make a marked difference to your diet – even if it’s just that posh coffee at lunchtime. A 2016 study showed that big-brand coffee shop beverages contain up to 25 spoonsful of sugar, and although some brands have been working to improve the nutritional balance of their products, it’s still possible to buy a beverage containing over 60g of sugar. Add a few shots of syrup and that’ll rise to over 80g – which equates to around 320 calories for just one drink. So next time you’re queuing for your favourite flavoured coffee, consider switching to an unsweetened green tea.