1. Invest in a Health-Club Membership
“Strength confers resilience, longevity, and protection against disease,” explains Lipman. Weightlifting and body-weight regimens can help to eliminate risk factors for a variety of chronic conditions, including coronary disease. But starting a workout routine from an unconditioned state or without learning proper technique can backfire, causing injury.
Many health clubs have qualified personal trainers who are able to help design a strength-training program for the level and goals, and many clubs are well stocked using the equipment you need. All the better if you join a club with a sauna; taking saunas can offer neurocognitive and cardiovascular benefits.
2. Consider Lab Tests
For the majority of common ailments, diet and lifestyle modifications can put you on the road back to health. However when you have a stubborn set of symptoms and the interventions you’ve tried aren’t working, it might be worth the investment to ask a functional-medicine doctor to operate a few lab tests. They can peek underneath the hood to see if there are any clues to be found in your levels of thyroid hormones, iron, or vitamin D, or maybe there are other deficiencies or imbalances.
“Testing can be a useful secondary measure if an individual is struggling,” notes Jonas. “I usually start with the things we know contribute to the vast majority of health and healing, but if I find someone needs an assist in getting there, or there are lingering challenges, then some selective testing might help get them over the hump.”
Stool testing, for example, can be helpful for stubborn GI problems; these tests can detect parasites along with other microbial imbalances that may be to blame. Likewise, comprehensive thyroid testing can reveal hormonal imbalances that contribute to unexplained fatigue, weight gain, and hair thinning.
3. Make Connections
Let’s face it: Fun often isn’t free. The best things in life — love, relationships, leisure, adventure — might not have a price tag, but the things that nurture them often do. Whether it’s family vacations or dinners out with friends, investing time and money in activities that support relationships and our very own sense of fun and enjoyment isn't a bad idea.
Relationships are key to better health, and experiences inspire greater satisfaction than material things. So the next time the check appears after a night out with friends, raise a communal toast towards the positive investment you just produced in your health.
4. Seek Out a Health or Nutrition Coach
We often look to our healthcare providers to give us the tools we need to stay well, but doctors aren’t always the best causes of actionable insight. “As doctors, we’re trained to tell you what to do but not how,” explains Jonas, noting that advising someone to lose 100 pounds isn’t necessarily helpful.
Health coaches, however, are often trained in behavior-change science. Whether your ultimate goal is adjusting your diet, moving more, or improving your mental well-being, a coach will help you develop skills and achieve successes that you can build on. (Find a science-based health coach at www.wellcoaches.com along with a functional-medicine-trained coach at www.ifm.org.)
Nutrition coaches, meanwhile, can pinpoint specific dietary issues and help create a food plan designed to support your particular needs.
5. Get a Pet
Research has shown that pet owners tend to live longer and experience lower rates of cardiovascular disease than those without a dog. Canines can enhance our microbiomes, improve our immunity, encourage us to workout, and support our mental health.
But it’s not just dogs that offer benefits for human well-being. Parker likes to watch her pet snake move over her skin. “A pet could be a great way to add stillness and meditation for your life,” she notes. “Should you spend five minutes petting any animal, you’ll enhance your parasympathetic balance.” The benefits of the companionship a pet offers can be especially profound for individuals who live alone.
6. Live your Purpose
A Harvard study found that the top predictor of a long and healthy life wasn't whether study subjects smoked or ate a lot of vegetables. It was whether they were regularly engaged in activities they found meaningful. The most powerful health benefits of all came from doing positive things for other people.
“Start by figuring out what matters to you in life,” Jonas advises. “Why do you receive up in the morning? The reason for here?”
Meanwhile, a purpose-filled life doesn’t always lead to the biggest paycheck — and sometimes a hard-driving career is the thing that’s harming your health the most.
Committing to health may need abandoning a career that’s no longer aligned with your personal mission, or perhaps a work schedule that doesn’t allow you to partake in meaningful activities, for example spending time with family, making music or art, or practicing self-care.
If you can afford to take a pay cut but feel afraid to do it, consider reframing the move as a worthwhile investment in your health and
After all, you can’t buy back your time in a healthy body, but you can invest in it now.