The whole concept of living a “healthy” life can be a little overwhelming for some people. What makes it worse, though, is that other individuals seem to have absolutely no problem being fit, happy and just overall healthy. How do they do it? Are they just genetically gifted and are the rest of us doomed to struggle? While genes definitely play a part, there are just a few simple habits that you can develop that help you live a healthier life – things that these healthy people are already doing.
- Sleep! Denying yourself at least 8 hours of sleep can really make a mess of things during your waking life. Not only does sleep deprivation put you in a state of heightened stress, sap your of energy and wreck your focus, it could also be actively working against your efforts to be fit. This concept has been backed up by numerous high-quality studies, including the massive 16-year long, 60,000 female participant Nurses’ Health Study. Over the course of the study, the participants lifestyle was observed and documented – including their diet, weight and sleep habits. At the start of the study, none of the women involved were considered obese. Once all the numbers were crunched, though, it was clear that women who slept less than 7 hours enough night had a much higher risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease than those who slept longer.
- Know when to unplug. Physical and mental health are closely linked, with stress having a major bearing on both. This is because stress a total-body response, affecting just about every system in your body. And, while all those devices that fill our home and pockets these days can help us be more productive, they also allow work to invade our personal lives in a way that can send stress levels soaring. Studies have found that just making one change – removing work emails – greatly reduces stress. While it’s probably not possible for you to totally ditch the devices, many people have set “black-out periods,” during which all devices are shut down. This will help limit your stress, and allow you to enjoy your life more.
- Move as much as possible. Many experts feel that we need to start thinking less about “exercise” and more about “activity.” Modern conveniences have left us largely sedentary – a lifestyle that our bodies simply aren’t built for. Although regular, focused exercise is important for meeting specific goals, it’s also vital that you find ways to be more active in general. Take standing breaks during the work day, go for short walks and take the stairs instead of the elevator to help inject some movement into your routine.
- Learn how to cook. Eating out – at any restaurant, not just fast food places – have been repeatedly linked with an increased risk of obesity and all of the complications that come along with it. Home-cooked meals, however, are a much healthier option. Sure, it requires a little extra effort but cooking for yourself gives you greater control over your portion sizes, exactly what goes into your meals and the overall nutrient make-up of each dish.
- Don’t over-think it. Barring any health conditions, your body has all the tools and knowledge it needs to be healthy – you just have to let it do it’s job. As mentioned, make sure that you sleep enough, get the proper fuel and keep your body moving. Relax and try not to see your body as some enemy that has to be pummeled into submission in order for you to be healthy.
Of course, this isn’t everything you can do. Take a few minutes to do some more reading on health and fitness to learn more.