As Olympic athlete Jim Ryun once said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” With so much time on your hands now until school starts again, it’s worth trying to adopt some good habits that are easy to introduce but can have a big impact on your health.
1. Drink more water
We all know that hydration is important, but how much do we actually need every day? According to nutritionist June King Chi-chan, a member of the Hong Kong Dietitians Association (HKDA), water intake depends on your calorie intake.
For every calorie you eat or drink, you will need 1ml of fluid to stay hydrated.
But water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated. Pale-coloured teas, fruit juices, and clear soup all help. As long as the fluid is not caffeinated, fizzy (ie soft drinks), or thick like milk, it should count.
• Keep in mind that you should not wait until you feel thirsty to drink water. If your tongue is already dry, then you are dehydrated and need to replenish ASAP!
• Chan’s general rule of thumb is to aim to make pure water at least half of your daily fluid intake.
• The best times to drink water include 15-30 minutes before any meal, after you wake up, and before bed.
More is more
• If you have a cough, cold, flu, or any kind of sickness, drink more than normal. Staying hydrated can help you feel better and recover faster.
• You should also make sure you drink more after exercise or sweating. Athletes often most prone to dehydration.
2. Switch off all electronics between 30 minutes and an hour before bed
Yup, it’s hard, especially since it’s summer and it feels like you can sleep whenever you want, but doing this gives you time to relax and unwind. Spend that time doing other things: reading, talking to your family, cuddling a pet, or even writing in your journal. Plus, it’s a good routine to get into before school starts.
• Leave your charger outside the room. That way, you’re forced to do other stuff.
• Buy an old-school alarm clock. Then you won’t need your phone alarm, and won’t be tempted to check your social media.
3. Eat fruit for breakfast
While skipping breakfast is a very bad way to start the day, eating instant noodles isn’t much better. Since summer usually means a more flexible (or even non-existent) schedule, make a real effort to eat fruit first thing. Not only will it give you a fresher and lighter start to the day, it’s also a good way to get water into your system. You’ll feel less sluggish and lethargic, and maybe even motivated to eat healthy for the rest of the day!
• Get creative and try some smoothie and fruit juice recipes.
• Cut a big batch of fruit and keep it in a large bowl in the fridge so it lasts you a few days.
4. Stretch for 10 minutes every day
Flexibility is important. It’s important in the long term for your muscles, and it’s important for feeling relaxed and happy. When your body is all wound up tight, it’s because of the lactic acid that builds up from daily life. This can lead to soreness, bad posture, headaches, and can even impact your mental well-being.
By stretching every day, you can relieve all of these problems. Find a spot that aches, such as your shoulders, and gently stretch it YouTube has loads of great tutorials.
• Remember to drink water afterwards. This helps flush out the lactic acid.
• If you don’t have a particular sore spot, stretching the lower body is always a good start whether it’s your hamstrings, calves, or hip flexors.
5. Wear sunscreen every day
Sunscreen is not just for those days at the pool or beach. You are exposed to sunlight constantly, even when indoors. This doesn’t mean you have to slap sunscreen all over yourself, as you would (hopefully) do at a beach. Just a light layer on any exposed area such as the face, neck, arms and legs should suffice.
Tips from Britain’s National Health Service on sun safety:
• Buy a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
• Wear at least SPF15; SPF30 if you’re worried.
Remember that it’s the little things that make can the biggest difference. But once you have done these things a few times, they will soon become routine, and before you know it you’ll be full of good habits!