The 7 best ways to stay healthy

Susannah Hickling

Always hearing about the latest health trends and wondering if they’re just a fad? Here are a few which seem to deliver on their promises

1. High intensity interval training  

A workout just a few minutes long that has the same effect as sweating it out for a long spell in the gym—too good to be true? Apparently not. Research shows that a short, frantic burst of cardio or strength training (for example, sprinting or riding a stationary bike) of up to a minute, followed by a minute or two of rest, and then repeating the cycle for about ten minutes, gives your heart and metabolism the same boost as if you were exercising for much longer.

 

2. Coffee

Brits have enjoyed coffee as a pick-me-up since the 17th century. But in recent times, it’s been touted as being bad for your heart and digestive system, for example— before being rehabilitated. Health benefits are now said to include a memory boost and lower risk of liver disease, liver and uterine cancer, and of dying from a stroke. But limit yourself to three or four cups a day.

 

3. Staying sober

Cutting back is becoming cool and there’s evidence it can have a dramatic effect on your health. Banishing the booze for a month can lower blood pressure. On the other hand, even moderate drinking has been linked to breast cancer, and a recent study of 600,000 drinkers showed that drinking five to ten glasses of wine a week from the age of 40 could actually shorten your life by six months.

 

4. Healthy fats

Avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds, fish and olives—what do these foods have in common? They’re all packed with unsaturated fats. Unlike saturated fats (think dairy, fast food and cakes), these good fats help to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.

 

5. Mindfulness

Paying attention to the here and now and being more aware of our thoughts and feelings is a centuries old concept, but it’s only become really popular in the last decade. Sitting with a clear mind and listening to your breathing can reduce stress and depression and even help with chronic pain and addiction.

 

6. Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is a modern-day holy grail. And with good reason: there’s evidence to show that it not only makes you function better mentally, but that it protects the brain, fights heart disease, and even promotes healthier eating. Irregular sleep patterns, on the other hand, can lead to metabolic and memory problems.