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Merlion statue fountain in Merlion Park and Singapore city skyline at sunrise. Merlion fountain is one of the most famous tourist attraction in Singapore from Shutterstock.com

Six free or cheap healthy habits everyone can benefit from

by ValuePenguin

Feeling like you're not your best self? Read on find out some of the best health habits to form to get you back on track to a healthy lifestyle.

When we think of wellness and health advice advertised to women, we often see advertisements for expensive spa treatments, luxury gym classes and overpriced but under researched health supplements. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle does not have to require spending hundreds of dollars per year.

In fact, most healthy habits are formed without increasing your current spending. In this article, we discuss some some of the best things women can start doing to increase wellness and potentially decrease the risk of future illness.

Eat Your Way to Better Health

Although we see so many articles telling us to eat healthy reduce our intake of overly processed, sugary and fatty foods, we still manage to underestimate the effect a healthy diet has on promoting good health.

A diet high in vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, proteins and whole grains can not only help maintain a healthy weight but also reduce the risk of common but serious illnesses, including certain cancers, osteoporosis, high cholesterol and heart disease.

To get started on changing your diet, you can make it a habit to eat at least a couple of servings of your favourite vegetables per day and swap out unhealthy sweets for your favourite berries or fruit.

To save money on your new diet, you can consider bringing your own lunch to work and opt for a salad or a couple of healthy appetizers when eating out. You can also use a cashback credit card that offers cashback on groceries to help pay for the more expensive organic produce.

Over time, eating healthy will become a habit and your cravings for processed and sugary foods should decrease as you get used to the new food.

Try to Be Active Every Day

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, taking time out of your day for physical activity can help prevent the onset of several chronic conditions. Sitting all day can actually increase your risk of getting conditions you are already at a higher risk for just by being female, including anxiety, cardiovascular disease, obesity and osteoporosis. However, you don't have to sign up for a fancy gym to get your 30-60 minutes of exercise a day.

Developing a habit of taking a walk during your lunch break or stretching throughout the day is a already a great start to getting your blood flowing during an otherwise sedentary day. If you like structure and prefer the motivation a gym provides, you can consider public gyms such as ActiveSG. They cost a fraction of the price of boutique gyms but provide much of the same equipment and classes.

Find Time to De-Stress Throughout Your Day

As Singaporeans continually clock in some of the longest working hours in world while sacrificing a proper work-life balance, stress becomes a chronic reality for many. However, you shouldn't fool yourself (or your employees) into thinking that long workdays are a harmless way to promote productivity.

In fact, many studies have proven that a long workday is both unhealthy and unproductive. Beyond just making you feel burnt out, stress can wreak havoc on your body. This is because stress triggers your body to release cortisol, a hormone that not only changes the way your body metabolises fat, protein and carbs but also impairs your ability to process blood sugar.

Major acute stress that occurs when faced with an emotionally disruptive event (i.e. argument with a spouse) can also be quite dangerous as it can cause deadly health issues like heart attacks, arrhythmias and even sudden death in some cases.

To reduce your stress quickly, you can develop a habit of taking a few minutes out of your day to meditate and decompress. Doing a short but effective stress-relieving activity can help lower chronically high cortisol levels that lead to illnesses such as depression, heart disease, weight gain and diabetes among others.

If you have time available outside of work, you can also consider taking up yoga or full-length meditation classes, starting a hobby you love and getting adequate amounts of sleep, especially on weekends. To reduce instances of major stress events, you can start taking walks or doing breathing exercises when you get very angry to help bring reduce dangerously high heart rates and anxiety levels.

See Your Doctor Regularly

As you get older, it is important to start seeing your doctor more regularly for early detection of cancers and chronic conditions. As a rule of thumb, you should be getting an annual physical, a annual routine eye exam and bi-annual dental cleanings. During certain periods in your life, you should also start getting cancer screenings to catch age-related cancers early.

Most of these procedures are done at your GP or polyclinic and are quite inexpensive with most procedures costing S$100 or less. Getting into a habit of catching potential problems before they surface can be a good way of preventing serious health problems that can result in not only expensive hospital bills but higher health insurance premiums as well.

You also shouldn't forget to see a mental health professional if you find yourself struggling with anxiety or depression, as these conditions can start to manifest themselves in physical ailments as well.

Take Good Care of Your Mouth

Developing good dental hygiene habits is a great low-cost way of keeping many diseases at bay. In fact, it's surprising how many things a S$4 pack of dental floss and a S$5 pack of toothpaste can prevent. For instance, poor dental hygiene can lead to gum disease which has been shown to lead to a higher risk of stroke.

Periodontitis can contribute to rheumatoid arthritis and in worst cases lead to serious cardiovascular issues (this occurs when the bacteria in the gums gets into your bloodstream). Though this advice has most likely been ingrained in your brain since early childhood, it's worth reminding that brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride containing toothpaste and flossing when necessary can help prevent not only cavities but much more dangerous illnesses as well.

Know When to be Suspicious and Do Your Research

Developing a habit of healthy suspicion when reading articles about too good to be true miracle cures can not only save you money by avoiding scam purchases but also prevent potentially harmful side effects. In 2017, Singaporeans spent S$490 million on supplements alone—and while those who are deficient in key nutrients can benefit from vitamins—those who are quick to jump on the latest supplement bandwagon can be in for a rude awakening.

At best, this will be a few hundred dollars of extra spending, at worst it can be a medical disaster leading to an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks. Instead of taking these advertorial exclamations at face value, you should start developing a habit of checking the article's sources and reading those instead. Hopefully, the source links back to a double blind peer-reviewed study. If it doesn't, you can consult your doctor if you are interested in learning more about the latest medical finding.

This was first published at Value Penguin's website, "6 Free or Cheap Healthy Habits Everyone Can Benefit From".