The strain of our modern hectic lifestyles, the pressure of juggling a demanding job, family, and social life, not only stresses our bodies but also leads to us taking shortcuts and self-rationalizing our suboptimal lifestyle choices – such as eating convenient but unhealthy fast food, or laying on the couch instead of exercising.
In the long run, the lack of proper nutrition or regular physical activities can lead to lowered immune functions while increasing the risk of developing chronic ailments or non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes amongst others. In fact, NCDs are one of the leading causes of death in Asia Pacific, with NCDs accounting for 71% of all deaths globally.
With the ongoing COVID-19 situation, it serves as a timely reminder on why we should place our health as the top priority and be more disciplined in our lifestyle choices. The first step to achieving this is a deeper understanding of the obstacles hindering our ability to make healthier decisions and habits.
Barriers in the Healthy Living Journey
Inadequate knowledge of what constitutes healthy living is one of the key barriers preventing people from leading healthier lives. While many look to the Internet, the torrent of misinformation and nutritional claims unsubstantiated by scientific evidence can make it tough to discern accurate information.
According to a recent study by Herbalife Nutrition, although only 30% of consumers in Asia Pacific are very or extremely confident in the accuracy of the nutrition information on social media platforms, nearly 70% of them use these platforms at least once a month for nutrition information. Misinformation does not only result in wasted effort, time, and money, it can also lead to the adoption of harmful fad diets.
The lack of time also results in people leading sedentary lifestyles. Work, family obligations and other competing priorities often take precedence over one’s intent and motivation to be more physically active. Having a sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, as well as obesity, a condition that plagues two in five adults in Asia Pacific.
Addressing the Barriers with the Three Pillars of Healthy Living
Essentially, healthy living is the practice of health-enhancing behaviours and maintaining them over a prolonged period, and requires three ingredients – proper nutrition, regular active lifestyle, and a supportive community.
- Proper Nutrition
To adopt a balanced nutrition diet, one needs the right nutritional knowledge and the ability to sieve out nutrition misinformation. When it comes to acquiring accurate nutrition information, one should look at the reliability of the source, such as nutrition and health experts as well as public nutrition and health seminars and online events conducted by credible nutrition organizations.
Considering the lifelong benefits of balanced nutrition, it is worth investing some time to develop a deeper understanding of what our bodies need, and to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to selecting from a multitude of options. This ensures that the products we put in our body are beneficial, based on sound nutrition science, and a rigorous quality assurance program.
- Regular, Active Lifestyle
To avoid falling into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle, it is helpful to build a regular exercise plan and set specific and realistic goals which provide clarity and focus on the reasons for staying active.
As working from home becomes the new norm and gyms are temporarily closed, home fitness regimes and online exercise videos become more relevant than ever. There are also a great deal of free online fitness videos offering a broad range of workouts we can easily follow at home. This will help us build up our fitness capabilities whilst lowering the risk of developing chronic diseases, managingour weight better, relieving stress and improving our mood, which is especially vital in this tumultuous time.
- Support from our Communities
Having a community to guide and support you can make a huge difference in uprooting unhealthy routines and establishing new healthy ones. As we practice social distancing during this period, technology and social media platforms can be a boon to help us stay connected with one another, keeping us committed to our diet and exercise plans. Instead of exercising in large groups, we can issue fitness challenges on fitness apps and establish virtual groups to galvanize each other into action.
It’s now more important than ever to have a healthy body and strong immune system. While the first step to making a change is always the most difficult, it is not impossible. With the right knowledge, plan and support, it will be much easier to embark on a healthy living journey and stay on this path for the years to come.