How to Stay Healthy When You Live in Las Vegas
As much as we love living in Las Vegas, sometimes it can be tough being a resident of a city that never sleeps and celebrates living in excess, especially if you’re in recovery from addiction. However, while it can be frustrating to hear astonished out-of-towners exclaim, “Wait, you live in Las Vegas and don’t drink!” Las Vegas is far more of a “sober city” than many would imagine (Don’t believe us? Read: 58 Sober Things to Do in Las Vegas). In a lot of ways, living a healthy lifestyle in Vegas is not that different from living a healthy lifestyle in any other city. Here are just some of the things you can do to stay healthy:
1. Eat At Home
While it may be tempting to go out to eat at one of the many restaurants in downtown Las Vegas, you will feel much healthier if you eat more meals at home. According to research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, those who cook meals at home consume fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat than those who go out to eat regularly. The same studies have also shown that people who eat at home consume fewer calories per meal.
If you do go out to eat, however, a great restaurant to try is Protein House in Henderson. It’s a health food restaurant that was started by a bodybuilding couple. Everything is fresh and made from scratch, and designed to work well for those looking for a post-workout meal or snack.
The City of Henderson also offers workshops and classes on nutrition and healthy cooking for those feeling unsure about where to begin.
2. Take a Yoga Class
Practicing yoga has several benefits that go beyond getting a toned physique. When it is performed correctly, yoga can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, help you maintain a balanced metabolism, and improve your cardio and circulatory health. It has also been known to ease the symptoms of arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other conditions that cause chronic pain. There are plenty of yoga studios throughout Las Vegas, including The Grateful Yogi and 103Yoga, so shop around to find one that fits your schedule.
3. Join a Gym
We all know that regular exercise is good for your body, but it is also good for your mind. Exercise can reduce depression, reduce stress, and improve your memory. Joining a gym will give you plenty of opportunities to exercise, all without having to work out in the Las Vegas heat.
Here is a list of popular gyms in the Vegas valley to start you on your search.
4. Visit a Meditation Center
Much like yoga, transcendental meditation might be beneficial in lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, and helping with insomnia. Also like yoga, there are centers all over Vegas that can teach you some very effective meditation techniques, including Kundalini Yoga and Meditation Center of Las Vegas and Zen Center of Las Vegas. Take a look around and see which ones are closest to you.
5. Spend Time in Nature
According to a series of studies, those who spend time outdoors surrounded by nature have a stronger immune system than those who spend most of their time inside. One reason for this is due to phytoncides—chemicals that are released by plants to protect themselves from insects and any other elements that might cause them to decay. They seem to have an effect on humans as well, hence the increased immunity.
In May of 2013, more than 10,000 people participated in the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge. According to the rules of this challenge, the participants had to spend 30 minutes a day outdoors surrounded by nature for 30 days. After the 30 days, most people who participated reportedly felt happier, more energetic, less stressed, and more productive in their jobs.
The best part about spending time in nature is that it doesn’t cost anything (or not much more than an annual park pass). There are several free parks in the Vegas Valley, such as Sunset Park or Southern Highlands Goett Park, and many more state and national parks and conservation areas, including Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area, Lake Mead National Park, Valley of Fire State Park, and the Clark County Wetlands.
6. Join a Support Group
When you join a support group, you are surrounding yourself with people who have similar problems to your own. Members of a support group are encouraged to share their experiences and provide each other with comfort and emotional support. Those who join such a group report feeling less lonely, less isolated, and less anxious. They also learn valuable new coping mechanisms when they can freely speak about their problems in a judgment-free environment. Each Friday night at 6pm, Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC) offers a free family support group for those with loved ones who are suffering from addiction.
For more free addiction recover resources, read our blog: 17 Addiction Recovery Resources in Las Vegas: 17 Programs that are Helping People Get (and Stay) Clean and Sober. Meetup.com also provides info for a wide variety of support groups, including grief, suicide, and anxiety groups.
7. Volunteer with a Non-Profit
Volunteering your time for a good cause makes you feel happy. Or at least that’s what researchers at the London School of Economics found when they studied those who regularly volunteered for non-profit groups. No matter who you are, there is bound to be something that you are passionate about, and there will be at least a few organizations near you that will gladly accept your time if you want to help them. There are numerous non-profits that operate locally out of Southern Nevada, including the abused woman shelter The Shade Tree, the addiction recovery organization Foundation for Recovery, and the horse rescue group L.E.A.N, just to name a few.
8. Take a Class
Even if you believe that your classroom days ended long ago, you can still find plenty of adult classes on a variety of subjects if you look around Las Vegas. You can take these opportunities to learn new skills to further your career, or you can just learn to be more creative. In any case, you can never go wrong when you take the time to learn something new.
The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Continuing Education Program offers courses in the evenings and on weekends on a variety of subjects: from photography and cooking to web design and accounting, and everything in between.
9. Make Friends with Like-Minded People
A study conducted by Australia’s Flinder’s University that followed 1,500 people for ten years found that those with close networks of friends lived 22 percent longer than those who were mostly solitary. In other words, your social life is key to living a long and healthy life.
If you find that you don’t know how to make new friends, think about your interests. No matter what things you enjoy, there is bound to be someone out there who enjoys it as well. Many of these people will be near you in Las Vegas. As you attend classes or support groups, take some time to get to know the various people that you meet. You probably won’t get along with all of them, but you have a good chance of meeting someone who meshes well with your personality and who enjoys the same things that you do.
10. Get Some Sun
When sunlight hits your skin, it raises the levels of vitamin D in your body, which might be able to prevent conditions such as osteoporosis and even cancer. Studies have also suggested that the increase in vitamin D produced by exposure to the sun might lower the risk of heart attack.
Las Vegas has over 300 days of sunshine per year, so there are certainly no shortage of places to enjoy the sunshine if you’re looking to up your vitamin D intake. Las Vegas has two family-friendly water parks and several lakes, including Lake Las Vegas, where you can golf, rent a kayak, or take paddle-boarding lessons.
Always remember to wear sunblock if you plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, and know when you’ve had enough. A little bit of sun is a good thing, but getting too much can be just as bad as not getting any at all.