While you can spend a ton of money trying to get fitter and healthier, there are plenty of ways to do so without it costing a thing.
BBC Breakfast GP Dr Rachel Ward has shared with us her top five ways to improve your overall general health:
Make going outside a daily priority
Life is busy and with so many people working at home, days can pass when you have hardly gone from bedroom to desk. Making time each day to get outside gives you some important time and space to clear your head and reduce stress. Walking is a great exercise, requiring no equipment or subscriptions! A brisk 10-20 minute walk each day will improve your physical and mental health and contribute to the recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.
Half of all long-term smokers die early from a disease related to smoking. Smoking actually affects every organ in the body. By stopping smoking you will not only save money, you will also have more energy, be able to breathe more easily, improve your immune system, improve your fertility and even improve sex! Every area runs quit smoking services, so you can access everything that you need to help you quit for free.
Did you know that laughter has been proven to offer many physical and mental health benefits? When we laugh it triggers the release of positive chemicals called endorphins in our brain which give us a positive feeling and reduce stress. We breathe in more air and aerate our lungs leading to increased oxygen flow around our body. We often laugh when doing things we enjoy like watching our favourite sitcom to spending time with loved ones. The combination of these experiences lifts us mentally and improves our wellbeing generally.
For many of us, we look at screens all day long. Though social media offers connection and convenience, it can lead to stress, comparing ourselves in an unhealthy way and a skewed view of reality. Plus, high screen use can cause headaches, poor sleep and stress. Planning weekly screen-free time might seem daunting initially but if you build it into your schedule each week you will instantly feel the benefits.
It is more important than ever to come forward for a flu jab and Covid vaccine when offered. Last year we ran a very successful flu campaign with a view to keeping flu cases very low in the face of a Covid wave. This, along with social distancing, was very effective, with a huge reduction in flu cases. This year we will be placing the same emphasis on coming forward for your flu vaccine. Covid vaccines are free for everyone and flu vaccines are available for free for all those in an identified "at-risk" group.