Travel insights from David Pritchard, health & performance coach at Apple Leisure Group

Healthy for the Holidays

One of my goals is to help you live your best life today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life. Part of that is to help you grow but also help you live healthier and better. We all have to be truly honest on how we are living and if our habits and lifestyle are helping us age for the better or worse. Getting healthier has never been clearer, it's black and white and I want you to raise your standards so that you can truly optimize each day to be your best! Below are some tips I have researched and feel will help you and they are not up for debate.

There are three things that determine how we age: genetics, environment and our lifestyle. While we can’t choose our parents who give us our genes, we can control our environment and lifestyle. It’s the last two factors that play a significant role in how well we age.

The average human lifespan in first world countries has been increasing steadily over the course of centuries because we’ve found ways to improve medicine, sanitation, safety, work conditions and overall self-awareness.

Today, the average life expectancy at birth is about 69 years for males and 74 years for females, how-ever plenty of people are living well past 80 and 90. What is the best way to ensure you’ll live longer? As you wrap up the year and start focusing on 2019, look at the tips below and start with one and build from there.

Manage Stress

When you’re stressed out you’re more likely to get sick due to a compromised immune system. Then there’s all the research that shows that chronic stress can contribute to heart problems, diabetes, obesity, cancer, asthma, depression and even Alzheimer’s. The reason why stress can have such a huge impact on our bodies is because it shortens telomeres. These are the protective caps at the end of chromosomes which are associated with health and longevity. If telomere length is compromised, what happens is our cells age faster. We cannot always control what happens to us but we can control how we react to the stressors.


What’s the single best thing you can do for your health? Exercise. A recent study found that working out and staying active reduces the risk of most chronic diseases out there — from cancer to obesity. Exercise lowers symptoms in knee arthritis patients by 47 percent, dementia and Alzheimer’s by 50 percent, diabetes by 58 percent and anxiety by 48 percent.

Feeling stressed and fatigued? Take a class, go for a run or walk and it will do you wonders. Studies have shown that intense exercise is better for you than mild to moderate, but any amount of walking or standing will help.

Think Young

Feeling young can make you young — at least that’s what one recent JAMA Internal Medicine study from the University College London found. The researchers learned that people who felt three or more years younger than they were actually had a lower death rate than people who felt their own age or more than a year older. These results are pretty fascinating and they’re inspiration for us to not worry about turning one year older. It’s what’s inside that counts! Be joyful, youthful and don't sweat the small stuff.

Avoid a Sedentary Lifestyle

Sitting all day is just as bad as smoking. You can however fight this by getting a half-hour workout in daily, taking walks on your lunch break and getting up every few minutes to stretch and move around. As you get older, it’s even more important to be physically active. Doing things like cleaning, washing dishes, gardening, or walking will cut your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and depression.

Eat Good Foods (Mediterranean Diet)

An easy way to eat well is to follow a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in heart-healthy fish like salm-on, protein-packed nuts and scores of vegetables. Research has shown over and over that sticking to this food regimen could make you live longer, along with providing you with health benefits like pro-tection against heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Eating well doesn’t have to mean eating bland, boring foods like raw vegetables. It can mean washing down whole grain pastas, seafood, bread and olive oil and eggplant parmesan with glasses of wine. Europeans like the French and Greeks are notorious for eating well— and it’s because they eat every-thing in moderation. Portion control is everything.

Be a Student for Life

Don’t fall into the trap that as you grow older, your mind gets fuzzier and your memory is shot. In-stead, change up your boring daily routine to add something new. Go to lectures, museums and read challenging books to keep your mind sharp. Learn a new language. Travel somewhere new. Keeping your mind young and sharp has actually been shown to help you live longer.

Keep Close Friends

It’s true that loneliness and social isolation can be harmful to your mental, emotional and physical health, while having a close network of friends around can do you good. One recent study published this year found that loneliness could lead to an early death at the same rate that obesity does. Having social support can reduce your stress levels, risk of suicide and depression.

Especially in the modern day and age when people communicate solely through digital means and live alone. Build a community, because staying in touch with your friends is important.

Stay Positive

Finding a purpose in your life will help you live longer, according to a 2014 study. Whether you’re in college, working or retired, making goals for yourself and challenging yourself is going to improve your outlook on life which will make you happier and keep you healthier. At the end of the day, it’s all about being positive, focusing on the good things and never giving up. So next time you’re feeling lost and stuck, make some short-term and long-term goals for yourself. Then take the necessary steps to achieve them. Having a sense of purpose will increase your productivity and positivity while helping you feel better about yourself and reducing stress in the meantime.

Control Stress

Very few things age us faster than stress, especially chronic stress. Have you ever noticed how quickly presidents age while in office? We all have stress in our lives and in small doses it can even be benefi-cial. But when stress is part of our everyday comings and goings, it begins to take its toll. While we will never eliminate stress, there are things we can do to reduce it — some included below. As my friend Bob Marley would say, “Every little thing, is gonna be alright.”

Manage Your Blood Pressure

High blood pressure can do real damage to your body and place you at increased risk for stroke and vascular disease. Think of your blood and its circulation through your body as plumbing in your house. If the water pressure gets too high, it can burst a pipe, which is the equivalent of a stroke in your body. If it remains high all the time, it will place undue wear and tear on the pipes, shortening their life. This is the equivalent of atherosclerosis, aka the hardening of the arteries in your body.

The good news is that high blood pressure is controllable if recognized and managed properly. It is im-portant to check your blood pressure regularly and keep it under good control. Diet, exercise and a healthy, low-salt diet can all help.

Don't Smoke

This is pretty much a no-brainer. Almost all of us understand that smoking causes significant heart and lung disease. But did you know that it also accelerates aging, especially of the skin? There is absolutely no doubt it will shorten your life and probably the lives of those around you who breathe in the sec-ond-hand smoke. If you do smoke and have been unsuccessful in quitting, don’t beat yourself up. Quitting smoking is one of the hardest things to do. So don’t give up.

Get Your Sleep

This is really important. Sleep may be one of the most underappreciated aspects of good health. Why do we need sleep? Sleep in many ways has remained a scientific mystery. What has been discovered recently is its profound effect on overall health. Even more fascinating is its importance for maintaining a healthy memory, which is something many of us worry about as we get older. It is now known that sleeps helps our brain embed the things we learn during the day.

So how much sleep do we need? At least seven to eight hours each night. That’s a challenge for many of us, but it should always be our goal. Sleep is not just important for memory. Having a lifestyle that lacks adequate sleep can increase blood pressure, cause depression and ultimately shorten life.

Enjoy the holidays, make great memories, eat your favorite desserts, eat some of your favorite dishes, but also find gratitude wherever you can and be present in the moment. Turn your phone off, play a board game, go for a family walk and most importantly take some time for yourself. You all deserve it! You have worked hard this year, so give yourself permission to breathe deeply and close your eyes while taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon!

Happy holidays,

"Be Well-Work Well-Live Well"

About the Author

David Pritchard, health and performance coach, comes from 20+ years of health and wellness experiences. With multiple degrees in Exercise Science and Nutrition and several National recognized certifications, he has had the privilege to work with Fortune 500 companies, executives, and professional and Olympic athletes. David has been a part of the Travel Industry for the last 15 years teaching travel agents, industry leaders, companies and hosting wellness retreats all over the world. While working with individuals and groups, he focuses on all facets of exercise, nutrition and motivational programs by helping create Health & Fitness Powered lifestyles. David has a passion for travel and also a passion to help people live their best life!

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Dec. 08, 2018
Tags: health , lifestyle , positivity