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Seven daily goals for men to help you stay fit and healthy

In today’s world we hear so much about what we should be doing to stay fit and healthy: what we should be eating, how we should exercise, how we should sleep, the list goes on...

The trouble is that with so much information out there it can be overwhelming and hard to cut through the noise. You may find some information contradictory or confusing, as well as advice that has very little scientific basis.

If you don’t want to overburden yourself with ways to stay fit and healthy then look no further as we’ve created a list of seven scientifically supported ways for a healthier and hopefully happier you.  

Man trekking to keep fit and stay healthy

Walk 10,000 steps

You will probably have heard of the 10,000 steps a day fitness target. Miraculously, the number originates from the marketing campaign of a Japanese pedometer brand in the run up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

There is a general consensus among fitness and wellness experts that 10,000 is a healthy number of steps to aim for. In part, this is because 10,000 steps equates to approximately 5 miles or 8 kilometres and takes around 75 - 100 minutes to complete which helps you comfortably reach the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate intensity weekly exercise. For moderate intensity exercise you should be able to speak but not sing the lyrics of a song.

How to get started

  • Use a pedometer, a fitness app on your smartphone, or an exercise tracker such as a Fitbit
  • Establish how many steps you walk on an average day
  • If you already achieve 10,000 steps or more then great keep it up. If not then slowly build up to it by adding 1,000 extra daily steps each week (equivalent to an extra 7.5 - 10 minutes walking). Perhaps you can get off a stop earlier on your way to work or ditch the car when going to the gym.
  • Walk at a brisk pace where possible to maximise the health benefits

Potential benefits

  • Some the many benefits of regular exercise include better overall health, better sleep, improved mood and better heart health.
  • Regular physical activity reduces your risk of premature death and many illnesses including type 2 diabetes by up to 50%, coronary heart disease and strokes by up to 35%, depression by up to 30% and some cancers
  • Helps you lose weight: 10,000 steps is equivalent to around 500 calories which over a week equates to around 0.5 kg
  • If outdoors, you will be getting an extra dose of vitamin D, an essential vitamin to absorb calcium and maintain healthy bones

Drink 1.2 litres of fluid

Given that two thirds of your body is water, it makes sense that you probably have to drink a fair amount of it daily to maintain this balance. The NHS recommends drinking 1.2 litres of fluid everyday to keep hydrated and avoid dehydration in the UK’s climate. This corresponds to around 6 to 8 glasses of water. Although water is a great source of fluid you can also get fluids from other drinks such as milk and tea, as well as some of the foods that you eat.

How to get started

  • Try starting your day with 1 or 2 glasses of water. This can get you as much as one third of the way to your daily requirement as soon as you wake up.
  • If you don’t like the taste of plain water, try sparkling water, or add a slice of lemon or lime. You can also include hot water, tea, coffee and squash.

Benefits

  • Drinking water is required to keep your body hydrated
  • Hydration is required for normal body functioning including digestion, mental performance, temperature control, heart functioning and circulation.
  • Evidence suggests that dehydration affects your mental performance
  • Evidence also suggests that drinking enough water may boost your mood and improve physical performance 

Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables

The WHO recommends eating at least 5 portions (equivalent to 400g) of fruit and vegetables every day. The UK Department of Health introduced the target during a campaign in 2002. Despite all the attention, a 2015 NHS study found that only 1 in 4 UK adults are meeting this target.

How to get started

  • A portion corresponds to 80 g of fruit or vegetables. This is equivalent to one apple, two satsumas, two slices of mango, four heaped tablespoons of cooked kale or spinach, or three heaped teaspoons of carrots, peas or sweetcorn. For more information, visit the 5 a day section of the NHS website.
  • To maximise the health benefits, try to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some dieticians recommend eating the rainbow - that is a range of fruits and vegetables of different colours.  
  • Try to incorporate at least one portion of fruit or vegetables into every meal. Be creative! You could sprinkle a cup of berries onto your cereals, add fresh tomatoes, avocado and lettuce into your sandwich at lunchtime, or have a portion of fruit for dessert at dinner.
  • Potatoes and similar starchy vegetables such as yam do not count as one of your portions

Benefits

  • Reduces your risk of major health problems such as heart disease, strokes and even some cancers
  • Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and folate which are essential for your body’s functioning
  • Also contain dietary fibre which is good for your gut and digestive system

Sleep for between 7 to 9 hours

Having sufficient quality sleep does not only prevent you from feeling grumpy and tired in the morning but is also extremely important for your short and long term health and wellbeing. Unfortunately many of us don’t manage to have enough sleep for various reasons and modern society often leads us to burning the candle at both ends.

How to get started

  • Stick to a routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day including on the weekends
  • Have a wind down hour before you go to sleep where you dim the lights, turn off digital devices and gradually wind down. Perhaps you could listen to some relaxing music or read a book.
  • Create a comfortable sleep environment which is warm, quiet and dark. Ensure that your mattress and sheets are to your liking
  • Avoid eating heavy foods or caffeine in the hours before you intend to sleep
  • You can also monitor your sleep using a sleep monitoring device

Benefits

  • Improved mental performance, mood, immunity and sex drive
  • Healthier weight. Studies have shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours a day are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese
  • Reduced risk of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, type 2 diabetes and heart problems

Relax for 20 minutes

In today’s hectic world, not enough of us are finding sufficient time to relax and de-stress. This is particularly important because excessive stress is linked to most of the biggest causes of male death including heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Although there is no generally recommended time, we suggest aiming for a minimum of 20 minutes.

How to get started

  • Choose a time that you can commit to every day. Perhaps it can be as soon as you wake up or during your lunch break
  • Find something you enjoy doing and find relaxing. It could be going on a solo walk through the park, listening to music in a quiet room, playing the piano, painting a picture, performing some breathing exercises or meditation.
  • Let other people around you know your intentions so that they do not disturb you

Benefits

  • Reduced stress and improved mental wellbeing
  • Lower risk of health problems linked to excessive stress such as high blood pressure, heart disease and digestive problems
  • Activates your parasympathetic nervous system which is the opposite response to your fight or flight response. It is associated with lower blood pressure, energy conservation, relaxation and improved digestion.

Floss and brush teeth twice

We all hate the annual visit to the dentist. There’s few things less comfortable than having a complete stranger staring into your mouth and passing judgement.

How to get started

  • Floss before you brush
  • Brush for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste. You may find an electric toothbrush enables you to brush your teeth more thoroughly. They may also come with technology or apps that help you track the effectiveness of your brushing. Check out the Sensodyne guide on how to brush your teeth

Benefits

  • Boosts your self esteem and confidence
  • Prevents build up of bacteria on your teeth and gums
  • Reduces risk of bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay
  • Evidence suggests that it may have other health benefits including lowering your risk of heart disease and preserving your memory

Wear sun protection

The sun poses a commonly understated risk to human health. The sun’s UV rays can damage our skin causing premature ageing and skin cancer. It can also cause damage to our eyes including burns to the surface of our eyes, cataracts and eye cancer.

How to get started

  • Use a daily moisturiser with UV protection
  • When spending time in the sun, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to protect from UVB and at least a four star UVA protection
  • Try to stay outside the sun or in the shade when the sun is at its strongest. This is likely to vary depending on your location and the season but in the UK this is generally 11 am to 3 pm from March to October.
  • Wear suitable clothing and sunglasses with 100% UV protection

Benefits

  • Reduce risk of wrinkles and skin cancer
  • Helps you to look younger and reap the benefits youth bestows on you
  • Reduce risk of developing eye problems such as cataracts or eye burns

Conclusion

We’ve simplified all the advice on staying fit and healthy to 7 achievable daily goals. Stick to these and you shall definitely be doing your future self a massive favour.

  1. Walk 10,000 steps
  2. Drink 1.2 litres of fluid
  3. Eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables
  4. Sleep for between 7 to 9 hours
  5. Relax for 20 minutes
  6. Floss and brush teeth twice
  7. Wear sun protection

Don’t worry if you don’t always achieve your daily goals. There will be times when life gets in your way. You could catch a cold, have a very important assignment or a 20 hour long haul flight. The trick is to be as consistent as possible and do what you can to achieve them the next day.