The World Health Organization defines the term ‘healthy living’ as maintaining a healthy lifestyle and also inculcating personal habits which can, over time, lower the risk of being seriously ill, and can prolong one’s own lifespan. While on the face of it this may sound easy, we all know that it is easier to preach than practise. However, the pandemic has made us all realise the immense importance of healthy living and for us to take necessary steps to strengthen the immune system—our first line of defence. What’s more, it’s not that difficult. And no, healthy living doesn’t always involve heavy and intensive workout sessions, or spending long periods of time in the gym. A lot many people also believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can punch a huge hole in your pocket. But rest assured, nothing could be further from the truth. Living healthy is a set of steps within the grasp of everyone. How? Read on.

Physical Activity

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Physical activity is a must to boost your immune system. Take time out to do some exercise, and combine it with exposing your body to the sun. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine shows that exercising at least five days a week reduces the risk of getting an upper respiratory tract infection by nearly 50%.

Combine it with a 30-minute yoga session, three times a week. Ideally do at least 10 minutes of Pranayama (meditate and focus on your breath) daily. Naad Wellness recommends Pranayama and sectional breathing to help tackle stress and oxygen requirements, further helping to maintain the SpO2 balance.

Healthy Eating

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Good nutrition is essential for a strong immune system. Fruits and vegetables need to be a part of your diet. Avoid fried stuff that are very high in fat, calories, and often salt. We also need to cut down on salt. Excessive intake of salt increases blood pressure, chances of stroke, and risk of dementia.

Naad Wellness, a well-being centre based in Sonipat, Haryana, recommends having wheatgrass and coconut milk juice. Wheatgrass consists of chlorophyll which helps increase haemoglobin. Coconut milk helps in reducing bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. “Beetroot and spinach are good sources of folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E which are essential for normal cellular function and tissue growth,” explains Manoj Khetan, the co-founder of Naad Wellness.

Staying Hydrated

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Hydration is as important as breathing. Water helps in transporting nutrients to various parts of the body and flushing out toxins. It also reduces hunger pangs, boosts metabolism, and maintains body temperature. Staying hydrated can keep your overall energy at an optimum level. Although intake can vary, on an average, one should drink at least eight glasses of water a day. There is another way to make it interesting. Squeeze some lime juice into a glass of water as lemons are a great source of vitamin C.

Sleep Hygiene

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A healthy adult needs seven hours of sleep without any disturbance. Sleeping peacefully not only reboots our mind and body but also our immune system. Sleep deprivation causes our body to produce stress hormones such as cortisol and that puts pressure on the immune system.

In a 2015 study, researchers found that getting seven hours of sleep every night can make you four times less likely to get a cold as compared to six hours of sleep.

“Erratic sleep cycles can throw off the biological rhythm in the body and can also have an influence on maintaining a healthy weight and mental balance,” says Manoj Kutteri, the wellness director at Pune-based Atmantan Wellness Centre.

(This story originally appeared in Fortune India's July 2021 issue).

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