Are you dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle — and living it for a long time? Then you probably already know the basics of healthy habits. Chances are you try to exercise, eat well and enjoy other health-minded habits. But you might not know about some of the smaller tweaks you can make to your lifestyle that will improve your quality of life and the length of it! Here are seven tips, from the basics to the not-so-basic, to improve your health:
1. Get Regular (Fun) Exercise
Studies show that it takes 21 days to solidify a new habit. This includes exercising on a regular basis. Have you had trouble making it to that magic 21-day mark? Then that’s probably because you’re not really feeling motivated. Regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight, which could be integral in staving off a slew of diseases, from diabetes to cardiovascular disease. Use this fact as motivation even when you don’t see changes on the scale.
2. Try Gut-Minded Eating
Have you heard a lot about fermented foods lately? It’s for good reason. Fermented foods, along with fruits and veggies, contain prebiotics and probiotics — both of which provide fuel for the healthy bacteria in your digestive tract. Keeping your gut healthy will keep your entire body healthy, according to UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition, so eat in a way that feeds the bacteria in your gut.
3. Ensure Ample Protein Intake
There’s a reason that three meals a day has become the norm, and it has a lot to do with protein. While your body can store energy in the form of fat indefinitely, it can only hold onto its pools of protein for three or four hours. This means you need to constantly replenish your protein to continue to build muscle, fight off infection and do everything else that this magical macronutrient allows you to do.
4. Make Sure Your Diet Has Plenty of Fruits and Veggies
As mentioned above, fruits and vegetables provide fiber, which feeds the gut biome. But it also ensures that you have regular bowel movements and, perhaps even more importantly, it helps to fill you up. You might already know these facts about fiber, but did you know that it can cut your risk of heart disease? A study published in 2013 discovered that eating seven grams of fiber daily can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease by 10%.
5. Eat More Nuts
Nuts aren’t just delicious, they’re also nutritional powerhouses. They contain protein, healthy fat and fiber. And according to research, they do more than just fill you up with healthy nutrients. This perfect combination of nutrition helps to ease a wide variety of diseases and health issues, say studies, from high blood pressure and heart disease to diabetes, inflammation, and even cancer. Nuts may even help you live longer, according to a new study.
6. Worry Less
If you’re constantly worrying about what tomorrow is going to bring, then you probably aren’t feeling very zen. This isn’t just an unpleasant way to live your day-to-day. It’s also a potential source of poor health. Stress and anxiety are considered the “silent killer,” and for good reason.
Women who combat excessive stress and anxiety are up to twice as likely to die from a stroke, lung cancer or heart disease than their calmer counterparts. What better reason to take up yoga and meditation than to live a longer and healthier life? What’s more, stress and anxiety often manifest in physical ways that can actually cause pain. You might start to experience regular headaches, back pain and digestive issues. So take some time to unwind and avoid this.
7. Get Adequate Sleep
It’s ironic that, in an effort to make it to the gym or to cook a healthy meal, many people will skimp on sleep. This might seem like it makes sense when you’re short on time, but not giving your body the rest it needs can actually backfire. Research has found that people who sleep fewer than five to seven hours nightly have a 12% increased chance of early death, while those who sleep more than eight to nine hours per night can decrease their life by 38%.
The trick is finding the sweet spot and sleeping between seven and nine hours per night. Don’t sacrifice your sleep in the name of another healthy habit — it’s ultimately a bad move and won’t lead help you live a healthy lifestyle each day.
Now that you have a better understanding of the habits that build good health, you should have no trouble making small changes to your lifestyle to accommodate them. By building up these habits you’ll be on your way to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You might even find that you have more energy and feel better on a daily basis. What’s more, you could be extending your lifespan with every extra hour of sleep and every round on the treadmill!