Start your journey to a fitter and more cheerful you today with these simple tweaks!

It’s every parent’s dream to live to a ripe old age and see their children grow up, marry the love of their life and have their own children. And you and your significant other have a better chance of achieving that goal when you consciously try to stay fit.

When parents practise good health habits, your children will have great examples to follow. Involving your family ensures that everyone works together to achieve a common goal! Here are great habits to instil today…

Infographic: Syahirah Maszaid


1) Sleep more

Insufficient shuteye makes you less mentally alert and may give rise to an increased level of stress hormones — known as cortisol — in your body. In the long run, high levels of cortisol leads to an increased blood pressure and poor heart health.

Besides getting junior to sleep earlier and longer, you’ll also nod off easier when you:

* Turn your master bedroom into a gadget free zone.
* Avoid looking at any gadget at least two hours before bedtime.
* Make sure your room is really dark by installing heavy, thick curtains to block out light or put on a sleeping mask.

Insufficient shuteye makes you less mentally alert and may give rise to an increased level of stress hormones — known as cortisol — in your body.

2) Give up bad habits

While there are benefits to the occasional glass of bubbly, consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can add years to your face, since it causes fine lines and wrinkles to develop. It also strips the body of collagen and hence skin elasticity, and makes the complexion red, dry ad puffy.

Your spouse’s sperm health isn’t spared, either. Alcohol can damage sperm quality by increasing the oestrogen levels in his body. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) recommends no more than two standard alcohol drinks for men and one standard drink for women. A 330ml can of beer or 175ml glass of wine or 35ml of spirits counts as one standard drink.

Smoking is another bad habit you need to ditch. Just smoking one stick a day can dramatically increase your risk of throat, mouth, bladder and lung cancer, as well as heart disease. Indeed, some seven Singaporeans die prematurely from smoking-related diseases daily and tobacco use kills about 5.4 million people worldwide in a year.

Junior is also be more likely to pick up smoking if he’s constantly exposed to caregivers who smoke. You’ll also be increasing his risk of contracting a variety of health conditions, thanks to second- and third-hand smoke.

If you’re struggling to stub it out, try replacing cigarettes with less harmful alternatives. These can range from nicotine patches, gums, lozenges and inhalers that you can buy from pharmacies. Getting the support of friends and loved ones matters as well. For help, call the HPB’s Quitline at 1800-438 2000.


3) Stick to a healthier diet

You don’t need to take radical steps like embarking on a juice cleanse to be healthier. In fact, short-term and extreme diets won’t just damage your body, the results won’t last either.

If you often eat out, try to order green leafy vegetables and skip gravy, oily fried foods and fatty cuts of meats whenever possible. Instead, observe HPB’s My Healthy Plate guidelines and consume:

* Five to seven servings of wholemeal bread or brown rice. One serving is equivalent to:

- 2 slices of bread (60g).
- ½ bowl of rice (100g).
- ½ bowl of noodles, spaghetti or beehoon (100g).
- 100g of cooked leafy vegetables.
- 150g of raw leafy vegetables.
- 1 small apple, oranges, pear or mango (130g).
- 1 wedge of pineapple, papaya or watermelon (130g).
- 10 grapes or longans (50g).
- 1 palm-sized fish, lean meat or skinless poultry (90g).
- 2 small blocks of soft bean curd (170g).
- 120g of cooked lentils, peas, beans.

For every hour or two you spend seated in the office, take a three-minute walk to the copier machine, the pantry to get a drink, or to the toilet.

4) Get active

Another good way to ensure you sleep well is to get in some physical exercise during the week. If you haven’t been exercising, start small like taking a simple stroll after dinner then slowly work your way up to jogging and then running. Also, make it a conscious effort to walk more on a daily basis. Try this: For every hour or two you spend seated in the office, take a three-minute walk to the copier machine, the pantry to get a drink, or to the toilet.

5) Free your mind

Stress is the only constant in our daily lives and learning how to manage it won’t just boost your zest for life but also shows junior appropriate tools to cope with stress in the future. Besides sufficient physical exercise, practising mental relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or meditation can also help relieve any feelings of pressure.

You don’t need to set aside a big chunk of your day for these mental exercises either. Start by setting aside just five minutes of your time daily to meditate, then slowly work your way up to 20 minutes.

Review your schedules and try to take out any non-essential tasks to free up your time and mind. Otherwise, you may also want to involve your hubby or loved ones, too. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child so you don’t have to do it on your own!

Photos: iStock

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