Simple ground rules for optimal health in 2019.

A new year marks a time for reflection. We look within. We reassess. Then, ideally, we put more positive practices and goals in place. Looking after your health must be a top priority. According to the Heart Foundation, Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in South Africa after HIV/AIDS. They go on to say that “every hour in South Africa, 5 people have a heart attack and 10 people have strokes.”  Fortunately, 80% of premature deaths can be prevented with a healthy diet, regular exercise and no smoking. Striving for optimal health will mean that our Medical aid and Life insurance are merely there as an untapped safety net. Health goals invariably spill over into happiness goals – if your body and mind are healthy, then success and happiness customarily follow.


We’ve broken down your new year’s resolutions into these 3 simple ground rules for optimal health:

  • EAT THE RIGHT WAY
  • EXERCISE THE RIGHT WAY
  • MIND THE RIGHT WAY
  1. EAT the right way

Stop thinking ‘diet’ alone when you think of eating. Start thinking ‘health.’ The Demographic and Health Survey in 2018 estimated that 68% of South African women 15 years and older are overweight or obese, which is a clear indication that our eating habits are concerning.  Becoming obsessed with what you eat should be replaced with being mindful about what you eat. Put goodness into your body. The general rules for healthy eating include avoiding processed food, convenience foods and foods high in sugar and sodium. Rather turn to food that is fresh – foods that require preparation. Furthermore, ensure you minimise feeling hungry. Don’t wait until you’re ravenous before you eat; we all want to head to the closest drive-thru if we’re hungry. Rather take the time to plan, and have healthy snacks available.

Whether you’re a meat eater, or whether your resolution includes exploring the life of a vegetarian or vegan; there is a variety of recipe options available to you online.

Your medical aid will thank you for a drastic reduction in your trips to the doctor. Your health is vastly dependent on what you put into your body. Did you know that Type 2 Diabetes, for example, can also be attributed to poor lifestyle choices that may drastically affect your quality of life?

  1. Exercise the right way

If you find a form of exercise that you enjoy, or (dare we say) are even passionate about, then that’s half the battle won. A love of activity does not come naturally to many of us, which will affect your motivation to maintain your health resolutions. So, why not try out some new physical activities and see if one resonates with you? The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, and strength training for all major muscle groups twice weekly.

As South Africans, we are fortunate to have one of the best climates in the world. It’s one that lends itself to outdoor activities. There are sea-based sports such as surfing, stand-up-paddle-boarding, and canoeing. Alternatively, coordinate your own early morning beach or outdoor boot camp with friends. Perhaps it’s time to restring your old tennis racquet and astound your children with volleying skills they didn’t know you had! Moreover, if you fancy something a little more relaxed, yoga offers exercise not just for your body, but for your mind too. You can even kick-off your exercise regime with one of life’s simple pleasures – taking your dog for a walk.

However, remember if you morph from Nervous Ned into Daredevil Mountaineering Charlie this year; to ensure that your Life cover is in place!

If you aren’t fortunate enough to fall in love with a specific form of exercise, then that’s still no excuse to be inactive. If the local gym is not your scene, then YouTube offers a vast array of quick exercise options like The Body Coach, which can be completed in 15 – 20 minutes – so you can’t use the “I just don’t have the time for exercise” excuse!

Physiologically exercise not only benefits your body, but it boosts your natural endorphins too. Prioritise it.

  1. Mind the right way

Without the strength of mind, the points above become far harder, if not impossible, to achieve. Your thoughts are everything. You can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It is essential to work actively at maintaining a positive mindset.

The likes of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) explore ways of rewiring your thought processes. In essence, this means that the more we think a certain way, the more we believe it. Be kind to yourself, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how useful the simple use positive affirmations can be.

Seeking the help of a psychologist is often affordable with the right medical aid. Gone are the days where mental health issues were considered taboo. If you need the help, seek it.

Most often, looking after your mental well-being doesn’t require professional intervention. The correct lifestyle choices, which include eating well and exercising go a long way to ensuring stable mental health. The incorrect ones, such as late nights and excessive alcohol will affect it negatively, so be sure to keep those in check.

Following these 3 simple ground rules are something you can control to set you on the path to a successful and happy 2019. True, you can’t control everything in life, which is why we put insurance in place for ourselves and our families. Insurance brings with it a peace of mind for the year ahead knowing that our Health insurance and Life insurance needs are covered. Can you hear that? That’s opportunity knocking. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019 and to the many adventures that lie ahead.

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