Seven daily habits to stay healthy and active during uncertain times

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Self-care isn’t necessarily at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts as America races to slow the COVID-19 pandemic’s grip. Practicing medicine for 28 years has proven women who take care of themselves — mind, body and spirit — are the most resilient. There is no magic pill — only a daily commitment to self-care.

So many women are working hard to juggle their roles as leaders, moms, wives, daughters and community members, especially while following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines. Oftentimes, they forget themselves, and as a result, their whole personal community can suffer.

It is possible to stay healthy in times of stress and isolation.

The Seven Essential Elements of Daily Success (SEEDS) can help you feel better through these stressful times while improving the odds of healthy aging. The practice of these seven habits can help with the creation of a healthy routine as you navigate your new normal.

Drink eight 10-ounce glasses of water every day

It is recommended to drink a net of 80 ounces of water daily. This means taking your total water intake and subtracting the ounces of caffeinated beverages and alcohol consumed to equal 80 ounces. Water improves energy, reduces hot flashes and can better the appearance of skin and hair.

Set a goal of 50 hours of sleep per week

The importance of sleep cannot be overstated. Adequate sleep makes it easier to lose weight, have more energy for exercise and maintain a better mood. People who get an average of seven hours per night face a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, depression and dementia.

Increase vitamin intake

Focus on incorporating multivitamins, calcium and Vitamin D into your daily routine. Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption and bone health. It also supports healthy blood vessels and is linked to reduced inflammation. It’s best to get calcium from food such as romaine lettuce and almonds, as well as dairy. A multivitamin is good insurance in the instance you don’t eat what you should every day — which is okay during these stressful times.

Aim to get 35 grams of fiber daily

Taking in 35 grams of fiber per day keeps bowel movements regular. It also reduces your risk of colon cancer.

Maintain a healthy balance of nutrients

A mixture of complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy fats and one treat creates a healthy balance. It is recommended to get approximately five servings of healthy carbohydrates per day, including starches with color such as brown rice, sweet potatoes or pasta. A recommended five servings of lean proteins can include fish, eggs, chicken, beans or tofu. Healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil and nuts, should equal approximately three servings of smart fats daily. Try to indulge in only one treat per day, such as alcohol, white bread and white rice, rather than marking it completely off-limits.

Set exercise standards

It is easy to feel stuck inside right now and staying active can be a major challenge. If you are looking to maintain your current weight, aim to get 5,000 steps per day. If your goal is weight loss, 10,000 steps are ideal. Other exercise activities to incorporate into your daily lifestyle include aerobic, strength training and stretching.

Take five minutes for metered breathing and gratitude

As the future is uncertain, stress is normal. Take five minutes to yourself each day to practice metered breathing and gratitude. Close your mouth, open your eyes and focus your vision on a single spot as you breathe normally through the nose.

Women are strong, and when they have the answers and tools, they figure it out and make it happen. Through these tough times, taking care of yourself is important now more than ever. Healthy aging is possible, and no time is better to start than today.

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Diana Bitner
Dr. Diana Bitner is board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and has been practicing medicine since 1996. Dr. Bitner is the chief medical officer and co-founder of true. Women’s Health, a midlife, menopause and sexual health wellness clinic in Grand Rapids. She is a nationally certified menopause physician through the North American Menopause Society and was named the 2015 Menopause Practitioner of the Year. This national award recognized Dr. Bitner’s evidence-based care of patients. She also has completed specialized training with the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health.