(BPT) - Although a “return to normal” in 2022 may still feel like a pipe dream, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to prioritize all aspects of your health this year. Rather than focusing on those longer-to-achieve New Year’s resolutions, experts recommend simple lifestyle improvements in the form of small habits. Retired NFL fullback Michael Robinson knows a thing or two about keeping fit. Soon after winning the 2014 Super Bowl, he began to identify his next career moves. Along that journey, he started focusing on ways for people to better understand and manage their health and well-being.
Here are seven of Robinson’s tips for achieving and maintaining better physical and mental health in 2022 — one step at a time.
1. Hydration is Key
Staying properly hydrated helps regulate body temperature, keeps joints lubricated, prevents infections, delivers nutrients to cells and keeps organs functioning properly. Sleep quality, cognition and mood all benefit from good hydration. Not a fan of plain water? Consider adding a squeeze of fresh lemon for added taste and benefits.
“Believe it or not, I start every day with room-temperature lemon water. It’s a simple routine that’s easy to stick to and I feel the difference if I miss a day. Among the benefits: lemon water kick-starts your digestive system, making it easier to absorb nutrients.”
2. Consider a “Flexitarian” or Vegetarian Lifestyle
While people who follow a vegetarian diet recognize the health and environmental benefits of eschewing meat, several recent plant-based innovations are encouraging omnivores to explore today’s “meat-like” options. Furthermore, studies indicate that plant-based versus conventional diets offer better outcomes regarding weight gain, energy metabolism and systematic inflammation. Robinson decided to cut meat out of his diet several years ago to reduce his chances of developing diabetes or heart disease. In addition, about 80% of every meal he eats contains raw or organic ingredients — including plant proteins.
“Vegetarianism is the foundation of my health because it all starts with what you put into your body. A common question I’m asked is, ‘How do you ensure you’re getting enough protein?’ Many people don’t realize how much protein plant-based sources can provide. Lentils, beans, eggs, wild rice and oats — these are just some of my favorites.”
3. Make Time for Movement
Even if you can’t set aside time to hit the gym or take a spinning class a few times each week, you can and should still treat your body to regular exercise. Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, regular movement helps reduce stress and improves focus and energy levels.
“I make time for some form of stretching and exercise every morning. This routine helps pave a clear path ahead for a successful day. Although there may be variations to my exercise and stretching regimen, the routine is what trains the body and will power to be disciplined. And the development of our will power is why we are here.”
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to movement. Whether you’re tossing a football, walking your dog, practicing yoga or hitting the trails, all types of movement benefit the body and mind.
4. Take Time to Rest and Recover
As important as it is to stay active, it’s also just as important to rest. Sleep is a basic human essential, and sleep deficiency can cause physical and mental health issues, injuries, loss of productivity and an overall greater risk of death.
“Our body needs recovery time to operate at its prime, allowing it to repair and strengthen itself for another day. Moreover, sleep allows our bodies and minds to recharge.”
5. Recognize and Prioritize Good Foot Health
Making healthy life choices and implementing better behavioral strategies can have a positive impact on your overall well-being. Understanding how pain and injury can impact your well-being and tackling the root cause is step one.
“I retired from the NFL when I did because I was experiencing debilitating pain from chronic plantar fasciitis. From painful injections to custom orthotics to foot braces, nothing alleviated my pain permanently. It wasn’t until I learned about a place called The Good Feet Store that I finally found relief and comfort.”
Robinson credits the Good Feet Store’s personalized Arch Supports for ultimately changing his life. “I was hesitant to try something else because everything else had failed. This time was different. The personalized fit of Good Feet Arch Supports is so good that the experience made me want to be active again almost immediately. The investment I made in this product allowed me to reclaim my mobility. My advice? Prioritize and invest in yourself before it’s too late.”
6. Prioritize Your Mind, Too
“Mindfulness” provides a simple way to cope with stress and can be achieved through many different techniques.
“Grounding myself with mindful mediation for about 30 minutes each morning is something I can no longer live without. It’s helped me manage stress and simply live better. It’s an essential part of my routine that’s proven beneficial in both my professional and personal life.”
Another popular mindfulness method is the power of positivity. Research shows that people who feel confident in themselves can problem-solve and make better decisions, take more risks, assert themselves and strive to meet their personal goals.
7. Support Others and Engage with Your Community
A strong community helps build a happier society for us all. One’s contributions toward making that community stronger often leads to an overall sense of happiness.
“I’m an avid believer in sharing resources with those who need them. It’s not only the right thing to do, but giving in any form brings me joy and puts me in a good headspace.”
Robinson works closely with youth in his Virginia hometown, where he founded two youth foundations: Excel to Excellence and Excel to Excellence Youth Football. Through these programs, he’s able to help today’s youth become more healthy, educated people and successful athletes.
“How you see yourself is relayed through everything you do in your life. To me, a positive self-image gives you a goal to chase. If I don’t see myself in a positive light, how will others?”