“Don't sit for longer than an hour. Get up and move around—any exercise is going to be beneficial. Set an alarm on your phone or smart watch to get up every hour and just move.”—Amy Mullins, Health Coach, Remedy Healthcare
- Small changes—to our diet, movement or mindset—can make a big difference to our wellbeing and the state of our health over time.
- Seek out opportunities to move throughout your day. Every little bit of incidental exercise is beneficial.
- Don’t try and change everything all at once. Pick one thing and keep doing it until it becomes a habit.
We’ve all done it. Bought new exercise clothes and signed up for a gym membership with the intention of working out. Every. Single. Day. Or started that new diet that’s lighting up social media, but which leaves us famished and reaching for a block of chocolate at 9pm.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As our expert partners at Remedy Healthcare share, the little things can often have the biggest impact on your physical and mental health. Here, they provide some simple changes you can make to improve your Real Wellbeing.
1. Make sure it’s not hard work
Having a healthy lifestyle needn’t be a chore; if it is, there’s a strong chance whatever you’re doing to stay healthy won’t last. “People find it surprising to know that a healthy lifestyle can actually be enjoyable,” says health coach and dietitian Kate Miocevich.
Kate suggests searching for something you delight in doing—and if that means skipping the gym, then so be it. “You can go for a walk with your dog. You can join a dance class. Go to the beach or pool for a swim. There are so many different ways to build a healthy lifestyle. And the more you find something you enjoy, the easier it is to stick to.”
Tip: Find something you love doing, whether that’s trying a new recipe for your favourite vegetable or starting a hobby that brings a smile to your face.
2. Get moving
One of the smallest changes you can make to achieve a healthier life is something you probably do every day without realising. Says Martin Bending, NSW State Services Manager and exercise physiologist: “Don’t undervalue incidental exercise. I’m talking about simple things such as taking the stairs instead of the lift. All those little things add up significantly to improve our health outcomes.”
“Find five or 10 or 15 minutes wherever you can,” suggests health coach and dietitian Alexandra Warhurst. “It’s much better than having an all-or-nothing attitude.” Alexandra’s top tips for finding that time? Do some stretching or pilates while bingeing Netflix, park the car a bit further away and walk, or hit the supermarket to get your steps up. “Find those little moments to squeeze stuff in. It’ll help you change your mindset too.”
Health coach and registered nurse Amy Mullins’s advice? “Don't sit for longer than an hour. Get up and move around—any exercise is going to be beneficial. Set an alarm on your phone or smart watch to get up every hour and just move.”
Tip: Don’t underestimate the value of incidental exercise. Find short opportunities throughout the day to get active.
3. Quality food counts
When it comes to good nutrition, “the surprise is that there is no surprise!” states Olivia Carinci, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Health Coaching Team Lead. “You need to use a little bit of common sense, focus on whole foods, and eat a healthy well-balanced diet across the various food groups.”
Think: a regular intake of fresh fruit and veggies, lean protein and healthy dairy sources, and good quality grains. Be mindful of snacking and alcohol intake. If you’re lactose intolerant or don’t eat a lot of dairy, search for quality items that are “calcium fortified”. And don’t forget the mushrooms: “Mushrooms are a severely underrated vegetable in my opinion,” says Olivia.
Tip: If you’re following Australia’s healthy-eating guidelines, you’ll naturally get in all the good stuff, like fibre, calcium and vitamin D, folate, iron, zinc and water.
4. Go for strength
We all know the value of aerobic exercise, like walking, jogging and running. But Martin suggests also incorporating strength, resistance and weight training into our exercise routines two or three times a week—and this doesn’t have to mean pumping iron at the gym.
“An area of exercise which is significantly undersold is strength and weight training, which can be really beneficial later in life. You don’t have to go to the gym. There are a lot of strength-based exercises you can do in your chair.” How about doing some right now? Get up and squat down on your chair in three lots of 10. “Doing this daily can help significantly improve your limb strength.”
Tip: Incorporate strength, resistance and weight training exercises into your everyday routine.
5. Pick one healthy habit at a time
Often we want to fix everything—our diet, sleep, exercise or stress—all in one hit. Alexandra’s advice? Pick just one healthy lifestyle habit to work on. “Break it down into tiny little baby steps and slowly build on it. The more achievable it is, the more likely you are to actually do it.”
Setting the bar too high can lead to unrealistic expectations. “Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve, because it takes a lot of time to change a habit—and a lot of concentration, motivation and energy. If it were easy, we would all exercise the right amount of time, we would all eat perfectly and sleep eight hours, so go easy on yourself.”
Tip: Don’t try and fix everything at once. Small changes over time all add up.
A final tip? Look beyond your health
We know from The Australian Unity Wellbeing Index—research conducted in partnership with Deakin University—that health is one of the pillars that supports our wellbeing.
But other factors—including the state of our finances, our sense of purpose and our relationships, known as the “golden triangle of happiness”—all contribute to the state of our wellbeing too. Consider how other areas of your life might be affecting your quest to achieve a healthier lifestyle, and make small shifts towards improving them.
As Amy concludes: “People need to ask ‘What's my motivation?’ Without knowing that, it's impossible to achieve good health.”
Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.
Remedy Healthcare Group Pty Limited and Australian Unity Health Limited are wholly owned subsidiaries of Australian Unity Limited.
An Australian Unity health partner, Remedy Healthcare provides targeted, solution-oriented healthcare that is based on clinically proven techniques. For more than 10 years, Remedy Healthcare has worked with more than 100,000 Australians – helping them to manage their health through caring, coaching, empowerment and support.