Only one in four people over the age of 15 practicesome type of physical activity in their free time (26.5%), according to the 2020 European Survey of Health. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the bad habits that most reduces health of the, but it is not the only one. Bad eating habits and sleeping less than necessary also affect health. The latter has been aggravated in the last two years by the anxiety, stress and uncertainty generated by Covid.
The pandemic has also increased stress levels, whether due to fear of getting sick or the uncertain work situation. One in three people suffer from some kind of anguish, be it anxiety or stress. Among the young population the figures rise to one in two people.
This constant non-living is what psychologists call chronic stress. A blow to mental health that also has consequences for physical health. “Stress sustained over time can be harmful to our body, so we have to manage our mind so that it is an effective non-injurious mechanism,” says Mario Alonso Puig, surgeon, lecturer and writer.
Among all the adverse consequences of this chronic stress, there is a silent one that ends up undermining health as a whole: the immune system is weakened and the body is left especially vulnerable to infections and defends itself less against any common ailment.
Some great habits of elite athletes
Elite athletes, subjected to constant pressure, travel, schedule changes, competitions and high-level training, know how important it is to take care of their health so that the special circumstances of their profession do not affect their immune system. To do this, they eat a balanced diet, monitor sleep and try to control changes in habits and the stress that competition and travel could cause. They do it closely supervised by their trainers and doctors but they are not far from the healthy habits that any other citizen should have.
Considered one of the best tennis players of all time, Rafa Nadal is aware of the importance of taking care of himself. That is why it has joined the campaign of the pharmaceutical company Cantabria Labs promoting healthy lifestyle habits under the slogan ‘The important thing, health’. “The most valuable thing we have is health. Without it, we can neither dedicate time to ourselves nor dedicate it to those around us. Integrating good habits into our day-to-day lives, should be an obligatory task since we are little”, points out the Majorcan winner of 20 Grand Slam titles.
Less smart phones and more walking
Switching to a healthier life is easier than it may seem. You can start by reducing the unproductive hours spent on your phone, for example, by browsing social networks before going to bed, a widespread habit that ends up stealing hours of sleep. Sleeping well, between 7 and 8 hours, is a first step towards a healthier life. But there are many more.
Abandon a sedentary lifestyle
One of them is to abandon a sedentary lifestyle. It is not about becoming Olympic athletes, it is enough to dedicate 150 minutes a week to physical activity. To achieve health benefits, physical exercise has to be active, that is, aerobic and always adjusted to the age and situation of each one. But at least 10,000 steps a day should be taken, which is what is recommended by European and North American medical societies to maintain an adequate cardiometabolic and immune vital tone.
Eat well to feel better
A varied, healthy and balanced diet is another of the pillars to maintain health. Controlling the intake of fats and sugars, avoiding alcohol, eating the famous 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables and incorporating more foods with fiber are small big steps that help improve metabolism and keep us away from complicated digestions.
“If our digestive system works properly (going to the bathroom regularly, not feeling bloated and digesting properly) then food will be digested, absorbed and distributed where it is needed in the most appropriate way. In this way we can enjoy a good state of health”, comments Gemma Bes, clinical nutritionist at the Rafa Nadal Academy.
Controlling the intake of fats and sugars, avoiding alcohol, eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables and incorporating more foods with fiber are the pillars of health.