Thanks to advances in medicine and science, more of us than ever are living longer. The secret to a long, healthy life lies in lifestyle choices. Healthy habits like eating well, getting enough sleep, reducing stress and staying physically active are essential to overall wellness. Read on for health and wellness tips that you can implement into your daily routine.
1. Eat a Balanced Diet
Eating a balanced diet is essential for good health. It provides your body with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to function properly. It also helps control your weight and reduce your risk of certain diseases. In addition, a healthy diet can help improve your mood and give you more energy.
A balanced diet includes foods from all major groups: vegetables and fruit; dairy; lean meat, fish or poultry; whole grains; and nuts and seeds. It also includes healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and canola oil, as well as limiting foods high in saturated fats and added sugars.
Balanced diets can be difficult to achieve, but it is important to make gradual changes over time. Try to avoid skipping meals and eating too many sweets and processed foods. Instead, choose a variety of healthy foods and drink plenty of water.
It can be helpful to use a food guide to plan your meals. The USDA’s Healthy Eating Plate is a great resource for creating healthy, balanced meals. It recommends filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits; one quarter with grain foods (pasta, bread, and rice); and one-fourth with protein foods. The plate also includes a small amount of fats and sauces.
It’s important to teach your children about the benefits of a balanced diet. By showing them how each nutrient supports various systems in the body, they can learn to appreciate the role healthy eating plays in their lives. This can help them make better decisions when they are faced with a fast-food drive through or other unhealthy choices. For example, they may be more likely to opt for a salad with grilled chicken when offered fries at a restaurant.
2. Exercise Regularly
Achieving and maintaining good physical fitness is an important part of healthy living. Physical activity reduces stress, improves cardiovascular and muscular health, and increases overall mood and energy levels. Ideally, adults should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week and do muscle-strengthening activities two days per week.
Although many people think they must spend hours in a gym or sweat buckets to reap the benefits of exercise, it’s simply not true. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person only needs 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day to reap most of its benefits. And 30 minutes is easy to fit into a busy schedule—it can even be broken down into two 15-minute sessions.
Exercise increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides, which significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. It also strengthens bones, boosts the immune system and helps people maintain a healthy weight and feel more energetic. It’s no wonder that the happiest and healthiest people are those who make exercise a priority in their daily lives.
In addition to visiting the gym, getting more exercise in a day can be as simple as taking the stairs instead of an elevator and revving up chores around the house. For a more vigorous workout, try walking or cycling instead of driving for short trips. You can also try hiking, taking an outdoor yoga class or playing a sport such as basketball or soccer.
When choosing an exercise, it’s important to find one you enjoy and will stick with over time. The more a workout feels like a chore, the less likely you will be to do it consistently. Find a type of exercise you love and commit to it for at least 30 minutes each day. Then, gradually increase your frequency and intensity.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important healthy habits to develop, because your mood, motivation, and energy levels depend on it. While a single restless night may not be that much of a problem, chronically poor sleep can contribute to serious health conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and stroke. It can also increase the risk of workplace accidents and car crashes.
The key to getting enough sleep is to be consistent, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, including weekends. It’s also helpful to create a good sleeping environment, making sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool, with no electronic devices in it. Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed. Watching TV or using the Internet right before bed is too stimulating and can keep you awake.
If you have trouble falling asleep, try listening to music, reading, or meditating. It’s also a good idea to stop worrying about not sleeping, because it will just make you more anxious. Lastly, don’t look at your clock too often – checking the time over and over can actually keep you from sleeping! Eat foods that promote sleep, such as milk, turkey, and pumpkin seeds, which are rich in the chemicals tryptophan and serotonin.
4. Stay Hydrated
Water is the most important nutrient for good health, and it’s vital to our bodily functions. We need it to lubricate our joints, keep our muscles healthy, and control our body temperature. The human body is around 60% water, and many people don’t drink enough of it. Dehydration can cause many serious problems, including low blood pressure, headaches, and confusion. It can also lead to heart disease, high blood sugar levels, and depression, according to research.
Aim to consume about eight glasses of water a day, or about half your body weight in ounces. This is an easy rule to remember, but everyone’s needs are a little different. You may need more fluids if you do lots of exercise or sweat profusely, or if the weather is hot and humid. You should also increase your water intake if you have a condition that causes you to lose fluids, like diarrhea or vomiting.
In addition to drinking water, eat foods that are rich in water, such as fresh fruits and vegetables (especially those with a lot of moisture, such as watermelon and tomatoes), iceberg lettuce, and soup broths. Vegetable juices, milk, and herbal teas can also help you meet your water needs. However, avoid beverages that are high in sugar or caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
Keeping a BPA-free water bottle near you will help remind you to take sips throughout the day. You can even buy a water bottle with ounces marked on the side to help track your intake. If you find plain water boring, try adding citrus or mint to your beverage for some flavor. You can also set an alarm or reminder on your phone to help you stay on track.
5. Reduce Stress
Stress is part of life, but if it is not managed well it can cause long-term health problems. Getting enough sleep, eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and meditating can all help to reduce your stress levels. It is also important to take time out for yourself and engage in activities that make you happy. This could be as simple as going for a walk, listening to music or reading a book.
If you find that you are unable to manage your stress, it is a good idea to speak to your GP or a mental health specialist. They can help you identify the root causes of your stress and teach you new coping strategies.
Other ways to reduce stress include learning to say no, limiting your time with people who stress you out and finding healthier ways to deal with conflict (e.g. avoiding smoking and excessive drinking, and not taking out your stress on others). If you find that you are regularly using unhealthy coping strategies that leave you feeling stressed, it is time to change them for something more healthy.
Try to reduce the number of things you have to do on a daily basis by focusing on those that are essential. For example, if you are always on the go and rushing around, then consider delegating some of your tasks to other people in your family or team at work. It’s also important to learn how to relax, so set aside leisure time and do activities that you enjoy, like walking or gardening.