It’s the little choices you make every day that have a lasting impact on your health and wellness. In a world where chronic conditions like heart disease and obesity run rampant, it has never been more important to take steps to improve your overall health.
Simple habits like a healthy diet, good sleep, regular physical activity and stress management build up over time to help keep you feeling your best by improving your mental health and well-being, benefitting your heart health and helping you maintain a healthy body mass index. And in the same way, bad habits will take a negative toll on your health over time.
With the science behind healthy living always changing, wellness is an ongoing journey. You may find that certain habits and healthy lifestyle choices work well for you at one stage of life and then they change later on. It’s important to always remain aware of what types of choices work best for you and make changes when needed.
This article will highlight some healthy habits that you can (and should) incorporate into your daily routine to help improve your health.
How To Incorporate Healthy Habits In Your Lifestyle
Understanding the importance of healthier habits can help you feel more motivated to actually make them happen for yourself. Talk with your doctor about where your health is lacking and how you can take steps to improve things. Pay attention to the way you feel every day, as you begin incorporating a new habit into your routine.
With time, you’ll start to see results which will make it easier to stay motivated. It will be challenging in the beginning but you should try to remind yourself why you started in the first place and keep in mind that the benefit of a long, healthy life is worth every bit of work that is required.
Below, we’ve listed 10 healthy habits to enhance your life.
10 Healthy Habits:
1. Eating a Balanced Diet
It’s no secret that chronic diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are incredibly common these days. Getting in the habit of eating a healthy and well-balanced diet can make all the difference in preventing these types of diseases from arising down the line.
Healthy foods are packed with nutrients and they help to really satisfy hunger, preventing impulsive binging on junk food. The key is to incorporate a wide variety of nutritious foods into your diet and focus on eating more whole foods while avoiding foods that are processed, packaged and high in saturated fat and sodium.
There are many different approaches to a healthy diet, many of which work well. The ideal diet will look different for each person so it may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you.
Some examples of healthy diets include plant-based diets, Mediterranean diets and Ketogenic diets.
Plant-based eating means only consuming foods that come from plants (AKA no animal products whatsoever). A plant-based diet restricts all meat, dairy and eggs. This type of diet can be hugely beneficial for some people offering benefits such as a reduction in risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plant-based diets also require you to eat a lot of nutritious foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and legumes.
The Mediterranean diet is often celebrated as one of the healthiest diets, especially in terms of preventing heart disease. This diet places an emphasis on eating a lot of different food groups but moderating how much and how often you’re eating these foods. Typically a Mediterranean diet involves eating a large number of whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit and vegetables.
You can have moderate amounts of fish, eggs, dairy and chicken. Then, you can have other meats such as red meat only once per month. This diet is great because it allows you to eat a lot of different foods but it still places an emphasis on moderating portion sizes and how often you’re eating these foods.
The Ketogenic diet is a popular diet that involves eating a high-protein diet while restricting carbohydrates and sugars. This diet is sometimes used for weight loss but it can have some negative side effects.
Diet is not one-size-fits-all, by any means. If you have specific health conditions, then your doctor can help guide you to the diet that will work best for you.
2. Drinking Enough Water Daily
Drinking enough water helps to prevent dehydration which can help you think clearly, benefit your mood and even support kidney health. Your body is mostly made of water so it makes sense that getting enough helps you function properly.
Health benefits of drinking water include:
- Keeping you hydrated so you have energy to exercise
- Promoting healthy bowel movements and regular urination which helps to rid the body of waste and toxins
- Keeping joints lubricated
- Maintaining a healthy body temperature
- Helping to maintain a healthy weight
Your water needs may be more than you think. In the past, it has been recommended that adults drink around 8 glasses of water per day but this may be more or less depending on your weight. Talk with your doctor about how much water you should be drinking on a daily basis. Some circumstances require you to drink more water than average, including pregnancy, breastfeeding or having a sickness.
3. Regular Exercise
Exercising regularly doesn’t just benefit you physically but mentally as well. Exercise helps to keep the heart healthy, prevent high blood pressure, build muscle and strengthen bones. It also promotes the release of endorphins which are the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals, promoting a positive mood and reducing negative mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression. Exercise is a good habit for stress relief. It also can help to promote better sleep, improve energy levels and even combat signs of aging.
4. Practicing Safe Sun Protection
Protecting your skin from the sun is incredibly important. If you live in a particularly sunny state, then you’re likely getting a lot of sun exposure even just during day-to-day activities. Over time, ongoing sun exposure can damage the skin and potentially lead to skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Apply a daily sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the sun. Make sure to use extra and reapply when you plan to spend extended periods of time in the sun.
5. Practicing Good Sleep Hygiene
There is more to getting a full night of sleep than simply feeling rested; although, that is one major benefit. Sleep actually benefits your whole body and overall health by supporting your metabolism, mental health and immune system while preventing weight gain and more. Getting adequate hours of sleep is one aspect of good “sleep hygiene”.
Also making sure you’re actually getting restorative sleep is important as well. Non-restorative sleep occurs when you’re waking up still feeling tired, even after resting for the recommended 7 hours or more. This can happen when you’re waking up in the middle of the night or if tossing and turning prevents you from getting enough deep sleep. If you think you may be experiencing non-restorative sleep, talk with your doctor to figure out what may be causing it since it could be related to an underlying health condition.
6. Strength Training and Stretching
Doing strength training exercises helps build muscle mass and support healthy bones. As we age, our bones become weak and brittle and joints become stiff. For this reason, doing strength training exercises regularly is an important way to maintain muscle mass and keep bones strong. You’ll also want to stretch often to maintain flexibility and support joint health.
7. Getting Regular Exposure To Fresh Air and Nature
Going outside and breathing fresh air is an essential part of healthy living. If you spend all of your time inside, then you’ll be breathing recycled, stale air and it may even have indoor pollutants that are harmful to your health. Breathing fresh air helps to clean your lungs, boost mood, lower heart rate, increase energy and support digestion.
Spending time in nature leads to a healthier lifestyle by benefitting the mood and even lowering stress hormones. Make it a priority to spend time at a park, walking through nature trails or on the beach regularly to help reduce stress and improve your health.
8. Incorporating Omega-3 Fatty Acids Into Your Diet
Omega-3 fatty acids help to support brain and heart health. Taking a daily omega-3 supplement or eating foods that naturally contain them can help support overall health by preventing heart disease and relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Some foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Flaxseed oil
Although studies have found that eating a diet high in omega-3s can benefit health, it isn’t entirely clear if it is beneficial to take omega-3 supplements. Omega-3 supplements such as fish oil are generally considered safe but they may not offer many additional benefits over simply eating foods that are rich in omega-3s. Talk with your doctor before taking any dietary supplements to determine if it is a safe choice for you.
9. Regular Self-Massaging
Massage offers a variety of health benefits such as improving circulation and enhancing quality of life. Not everyone can afford to visit a masseuse on a regular basis and that is okay since self-massage is still hugely beneficial. Self-massage simply involves massaging your body yourself using lotion or body oil. This self-care method has been used in ancient medicine, such as Ayurveda for centuries and it has been found to offer a variety of benefits including pain relief and improved nervous system function.
10. Practicing Yoga or Other Mind-Body Exercises
Yoga is not only an effective exercise and recovery method but it also helps to maintain a mind-body connection. The great thing about yoga is that there are all different skill levels–you don’t have to be an expert or even know what you’re doing at all!
Benefits of of yoga include weight loss, improved energy levels, increased vitality, supported heart health, protection of the body from injury and improved athletic performance.
Taking steps to live a healthy lifestyle will make a huge difference in your quality of life and may even prevent you from developing a chronic disease. Consistency is essential in helping habits stick and actually getting to the point of seeing results. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are effective ways to support your health but they’re only a few of the ways to do so.
It is important to recognize that living a healthy life requires work but the work is absolutely worth it. We currently live in a society that is filled with chronic disease and so it has never been more important to take steps to keep yourself healthy and prevent disease. A healthy lifestyle is an ongoing journey and it will take trial and error to get it right. Your doctor can help you determine what types of lifestyle changes will benefit you based on your current state of health.