New year, new healthful habits

Resolutions can be hard to maintain; Here are three easy, impactful ways to improve your mental and physical health throughout 2018

Emma Trone, Sports Editor

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Spin classes provide fun, full-body workout

If the beginning of a new year has inspired you to strengthen your body, look no further than Chicago’s countless spin studios and classes. Classes at studios such as SoulCycle in the Loop, Old Town, Lake View and North Shore, or Cycle Therapy in Hyde Park offer not only a full-body workout but an encouraging atmosphere with upbeat music to match.

“I think it’s just so fun to be in an environment with a bunch of other people who are motivating you to work as hard as you can, and that sense of community is really awesome,” said Alyssa Hannah, who attends a SoulCycle studio class once a week. “The music is also super-fun, and the instructor that I go see is very motivational.”

With classes ordinarily clocking in at around an hour or shorter in length, you can easily attend a couple of classes a week without overwhelming an already packed schedule.  When staying fit can be this fun and community-oriented, keeping your body healthy won’t feel like such a chore.

Meditation apps offer space for relaxation

While meditation has been in practice for centuries around the world, modern tools have made it easier than ever to improve your mental health and lower anxiety.

According Terri Greene, who teaches meditation as a part of the Stress Redux P.E. class, “Most of our struggle as people is that we’re continuously thinking about so many things that we can’t relax. But when you’re meditating, the thought is that you’re trying to empty your mind and focus on the present.”

The free app Stop, Breathe & Think offers an easy introduction to meditation and relaxation, with 15 unique, guided meditations tailored to a particular mood or psychological need. After introducing basic meditation practices, the app can help you customize your meditation routine.

Spending as few as 5 to 10 minutes meditation guided by this app or a similar one each day has been purported to help stabilize your mind and make you feel more connected to the world around you.

Meatless Mondays help environment and body

If eating more healthfully is one of your commitments for the new year, participating in Meatless Mondays might be a good stepping stone to more intensive diet changes, such as vegetarianism and veganism. Consuming less meat has been proven to not only improve physical health, but also the wellbeing of the planet as a whole.

“Meatless Mondays” have  a century-long precedent, including the World War I-era movement to reduce meat consumption to fuel the war effort.

The modern Meatless Monday movement encourages people across the world to abstain from meat products each Monday as a way to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Environmentally, cutting meat for one day of the week reduces greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and fuel dependence. This small tweak to your diet might mean all the difference for your body and the Earth.

Midway illustrations by Neena Dhanoa.