Let’s face it: Most of us would be in much better shape if we put as much time, money, thought and energy into taking care of our bodies as we put into maintaining our cars.
If that sounds like you, here are five ways you can give your body a simple tune-up to get on track with your health and fitness.
1. Fuel Up
The Maintenance: Do you put premium gas in your car’s tank? Don’t fall short when it comes to your own tank.
How to Get The Most Mileage: Fill your body with the best fuel for your brain and muscles: High-quality carbohydrates that are packed with antioxidants to keep your body healthy, free of disease and functioning at its’ peak, plus fiber for a prolonged energy boost. Think all fruits and vegetables, oatmeal, beans, quinoa and other high-fiber whole grains. Always combine high-quality carbohydrates with lean proteins like skinless poultry breast, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy products to extend the energy boost of the carbohydrates even further.
The quickest way to end up in the repair shop? Cheap gas, such as sugary and fried foods. While both may at first glance seem appealing, they spell a crash and burn. These foods are a slippery slope when used as a fuel source — you’ll quickly putter out.
2. Check Your Tires
The Maintenance: Just because there’s a little tread left on your car tires doesn’t mean it’s safe to keep driving on them. Plus, it puts a strain on the entire body of the car. The same goes when you wear out your sneakers — your joints, ligaments and bones are all in harm’s way.
How To Know When Your Tread Is Worn: When the outsole of your sneaker starts to feel smooth and looks like a bald tire, you’re overdue — it’s time to get new shoes ASAP. A good guideline is to replace your running shoes every 300-600 miles, depending on your running style and how much you weigh. For most runners, this mileage comes out to every three to four months. For those who do other types of exercise, consider upgrading your footwear every five to nine months. As a bonus, every time you put on a fresh pair of new shoes, you’ll feel a little spring in your step, which will give your workout a little boost.
3. Check Your Fluids
The Maintenance: When your car is low in oil, brake or other fluid, you’re in trouble. The same goes for liquid in your body. If you’re dehydrated, it’s going to be a major setback. In fact, research shows that even a slight dehydration of 2 percent (most of us wake up this way!) can significantly impair athletic performance by as much as 25 percent, create headaches and cause fatigue. Although not glamorous, the best way to check your hydration status is to check the color of your urine. Pale and clear means you’re ready to start your engine. If it’s darker or looks more like apple juice, it’s time to start drinking some water… and fast.
Prepare For The Long Haul: If you’re setting out to exercise, make sure you’re well hydrated before you begin exercising. Drink 15-20 ounces of water 15 minutes before you begin your workout and 8-10 ounces of water every 15 minutes after you start.
4. Keep Your Shocks Healthy
The Maintenance: When the shocks on your car are shot, every little bump feels like you’ve gone over a boulder. Similarily, if you don’t protect your body’s joints, ligaments, tendons and bones, you put a comparable strain on your body.
How To Smooth Your Ride:
1. Exercise. By strengthening muscles around the joints it will keep pressure off of them.
2. Get checked by a podiatrist to see if orthotics will benefit you.
3. Carry bags on both shoulders to reduce body strain. Forget about high school — you are no longer the cool kid in school if you carry your backpack on just one shoulder.
4. Replace your sneakers regularly.
5. Eat a nutritious diet rich in calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and omega 3’s to keep joints lubricated. Your best lube job? Grilled salmon or a can of sardines.
5. Check Your Exhaust System
The Maintenance: If the air coming out of your exhaust pipe is stinky or dark, something’s wrong with your car. Likewise, you need to protect your own exhaust system and lungs too.
How To Pass The Emissions Test:
1. Don’t smoke. Anything. Not even that occasional doobie.
2. Exercise to make it easier to keep your heart and lungs supplied with oxygen.
3. Workout indoors when the ozone and outdoor pollutants are bad.
4. Eliminate indoor pollution from fireplaces, construction materials, paint fumes, perfumes and air fresheners and improve ventilation.
5. Eat more antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and beans. A 2010 study found that people who ate the most cruciferous veggies has almost half the risk of lung cancer than those who consumed the least.