By Dr Petra Simic, Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics
2020 has been a tough year for our mental and physical health: many of us have faced a year of stress, worry and anxiety. As we head into the new year, it’s more important than ever to prioritise your health.
Based on what we’ve all been searching for on Google, Dr Petra Simic, Clinical Director for Bupa Health Clinics, has revealed the most popular health, fitness and diet trends for us to follow in the new year.
Eat a flexitarian diet
Over the last few years, searches on Google have continued to increase for a ‘flexitarian diet’. If you’re not familiar with Flexitarianism, think of it as ‘casual vegetarianism’.
Your diet will typically consist of fruit, vegetables and protein from plants instead of animals, but occasionally may include meat and animal products, such as cheese, milk and eggs.
If you’re keen to try this new trend, make sure you fill your plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner, and focus less on meat as the main centrepiece of a meal. There’s also plenty of tasty meat-free alternatives to try, such as tofu or seitan.
It’s more important than ever to look after ourselves, both physically and mentally. Practising self-care has lots of benefits, such as sleeping better, improve your focus and strengthen your relationships.
Since March 2020, searches on Google for ‘meditation’ have remained consistently high. There’s lots of benefits for regularly practising meditation, including boosting your creativity, reducing stress and it can also help to calm a racing mind.
If you’re keen to adopt this trend, why not begin each day with a quick, ten-minute meditation session? All you’ll need is a quiet space as there’s no equipment needed, and it can leave you feeling refreshed, ready to tackle the day ahead.
Start a gratitude diary
Unsurprisingly, self-care and looking after ourselves has been at the forefront of our minds. There’s been a continued interest across 2020 for searches for ‘gratitude’ and ‘gratitude journals’.
Being appreciative of what’s making you happy is a great example of self-care and can increase your sense of wellbeing. Get into the habit of writing down three reasons why you’re grateful every day. Why not try to do this each night before bed? It will help finish the day on a positive note.
If you’re grateful because of someone close to you, you should tell them how much you appreciate them; not only will this lift your mood, but it’s likely to lighten theirs, too.
Monitor your heart health
We all know that it’s important to look after our heart, but it can be difficult to know how. Heart health has been on people’s minds since 2017, according to Google search data.
Searches for ‘healthy heart rate’, ‘healthy resting heart rate’ and ‘normal resting heart rate’ have continued to increase over the last few years, and experienced their highest volumes in 2020, too.
If you’re interested in tracking your heart health, wearables are a great way to track your overall health, with lots of fitness trackers being able to monitor your heart rate, sleep quality and activity levels.
There’s also lots of lifestyle changes you can adopt to boost your heart health, for example ditching the salt, exercising regularly and reducing your alcohol consumption (as drinking too much alcohol can be harmful to your heart).
Eat more sustainably
Everything we do, eat or buy has a carbon footprint and an impact on the environment. Over the last two years, searches on Google have continued to gain momentum for sustainable foods. But what exactly is a sustainable diet?
Eating a more sustainable diet doesn’t have to mean a huge change to your lifestyle and can be achieved by making a few simple changes. If you’re keen to eat more sustainably, you should eat more plant-based foods (for example fruits, vegetables, pulses and wholegrains) and waste less food. It also fits in perfectly with a flexitarian diet.
Exercise with a home workout
With Covid-19 restrictions limiting gyms and group workouts, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a huge increase in online searches on Google for ‘home workouts’. Coronavirus restrictions shouldn’t halt your exercise plans – there’s a heap of online workouts for you to try, ranging from quick HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts to a calmer form of exercise, like yoga.
If you’re missing your workout with a friend or a group, why not get creative and set up virtual workout challenges with your friends? You’re more likely to achieve your fitness goals if you share your progress with someone.
It’s important to speak to your doctor if you’ve got a health concern, as they’ll be able to help. Health MOTs are also available – both via the NHS if you’re aged between 40 and 74 – and privately, too.