Being a physician and healthy-living advocate, I aim to practise what I preach. So far, I’ve found the easiest way to maintain healthy habits for myself is to actually make them habits, so they become a natural part of my routine. Here are the most important things I do every day to ensure I put my health first.
1. Seven-minute stretch
From promoting weight loss to reducing blood pressure and decreasing inflammation, the benefits of regular stretching seem to multiply as researchers study them. That’s why I make a point of doing it first thing every morning: seven minutes of yoga as soon as I get out of bed. It’s a great way to wake up my tired muscles and joints. And a strong, flexible body is the best way to avoid activity-related injuries.
2. Omegas and vitamin D
I always say vitamins are like a health insurance policy. I take a multi every day, even though I eat well. I also take fish oil for my brain and heart (look for 600 mg of DHA omega-3 fats) and vitamin D (1,000 IU). Low vitamin D is linked to health woes, such as increased risks of heart disease and dementia — risks I’m not willing to take.
3. Protein-packed snacks
The secret to all-day energy can be found in the snacks you choose. Thanks to a woman who works on my show, I’ve got myself covered. She brings in the best high-protein treats (protein helps stabilize blood sugar and makes us feel full longer) and generously shares them with me and the crew. Picture a giant bag filled with healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts, unsweetened dried cranberries, raisins and seeds, even shredded coconut. All it takes is one tasty handful to keep my energy on the upswing. No midday crashes here.
4. Breathing breaks
I began preaching the merits of deep breathing for stress relief even before my show was on the air. At least twice a day — when I’m in an elevator or taking a shower, for example — I take a few minutes for it. Simply allow your belly to fully expand as you breathe in, then slowly exhale all the air out. Close your eyes to turn it into a moment-focused meditation and lower your risk for heart disease.
5. Whole foods
Whenever I can, I eat foods that are as close to their original form as possible. Processed foods are full of chemicals that have no nutritional value, and they can weigh you down and dampen your mood. Even when I’m on the go, I’ll just drink a ‘salad’ in the form of a green shake or a smoothie.
6. Avoid sitting
Ask anyone in my office how often they see me sitting, and they’ll tell you it’s rare. I’m always on the move, not only because I’m busy but because I choose to be. The more you sit, the more your body suffers. You don’t have to go to the gym every day, you just have to stop sitting. Stand at your desk or for meetings and even when you take transit; and if you walk somewhere, pick up the pace!
7. Eight-hour sleep
When you’re busy, sleep is often the place you cut corners, but a good night’s sleep is a top priority for me. We have thick curtains to keep it pitch-black in the bedroom, which I find ensures sounder sleep. Frankly, we should all start setting our alarms for bedtime instead of wake-up time — if we went to bed when we should, it would be much easier to spring into action the next day!
Chatelaine expert Dr. Oz, winner of two daytime Emmy Awards, is the host of The Dr. Oz Show, which airs weekdays at 2 p.m. ET on CTV (check local listings).
-Article originally published February 2013.