Looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle? It might seem like a big task, but you’d be surprised how big a difference a few simple tweaks to your routine can make. Here are 10 healthy habits to start today that’ll get you on the road to greater well-being, happiness, and longevity.
Prioritize at least 150 minutes of cardio per week.
Exercise is one of the most important lifestyle practices you can adopt. It has huge and varied benefits, including:
- Improved mental health
- Clearer cognition
- Healthy weight maintenance
- Lower risk of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers
- Stronger bones and muscles
- Improved ability to perform daily tasks
The minimum recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week, or about 21 minutes per day. But even short bursts of activity a few times a day can have a significant impact.
To keep things exciting, try different workouts each day, such as dancing, strength-training, and walking/running.
While daily workouts are key for optimal health, it’s also important to move more throughout your day–especially if you spend a lot of time sitting.
Studies indicate that balancing physical movement with sedentary time each day decreases your risk of all-cause mortality even more than getting enough sleep. Alternatively, sitting for long periods of time has been linked to high blood pressure and blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
If you sit most of the day, set a timer for roughly every 30 minutes and get up, stretch, and/or walk around. You can even invest in a standing desk to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting.
Take more public transportation, walk, or bike.
Taking public transportation instead of driving is an easy way to work more movement into your day. It promotes physical activity by requiring you to walk to and from transit stops, further improving your well-being and reducing your risk of disease. Not to mention, you’re getting fresh air and reducing air pollution, benefitting the health of your community.
If you live close enough to work, walk or ride your bike to increase physical activity.
If you’re one of the 28.3 million U.S. adults who smoke cigarettes, quitting may be the most beneficial thing you can do for your health.
Not only does smoking increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases like emphysema, but it weakens your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. It also raises your heart rate and causes dental problems.
Try a natural, science-backed smoking cessation option, such as:
- Black pepper essential oil (used in an inhaling device)
- Natural herbs like St. John’s Wort
Deep breathing, meditation, and/or yoga may also help. Plus, they provide additional health benefits like stress reduction, pain relief, improved focus, and stronger immunity.
Cut out packaged foods at least once per week.
Packaged foods might be convenient, but even the seemingly healthier varieties are often loaded with chemicals you don’t need. Common preservatives and additives (such as nitrites) have been linked to serious health issues like asthma, heart problems, obesity, and even cancer.
Make at least one meal per week with all-fresh ingredients such as lean meat, organic vegetables, and healthy fats like olive or avocado oil. Even a minimal shift like this can have huge benefits for your health and mood.
If you want to make eating whole foods a regular habit, try meal prepping. Cook a few large, high-yield meals such as chicken and/or vegetable soup on the weekends, portion out meals for the week, and/or stock your freezer to make healthy eating easier.
Practice positive self-talk.
If you’re overly self-critical and often engage in a negative internal dialogue, it’s time for a change. Negative self-talk can lead to mental health issues and seriously impact your level of success in every aspect of life.
Start by becoming aware of your self-talk patterns, challenging negative thoughts, and practicing self-compassion. Then, when you notice the pattern, try replacing self-critical thoughts with positive affirmations.
Research shows this simple yet powerful practice can lead to greater well-being, personal growth, and even outward success.
When you smile, your brain releases neuropeptides, or tiny molecules that work to combat stress and promote a sense of well-being. It also produces dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, which further lift your mood.
This holds true even if you’re forcing a smile. But as your brain releases all these feel-good chemicals, a forced smile can often give way to a genuine one.
So, the simple act of smiling has the power to trigger a chain reaction of positive neurochemicals, bringing stress relief and a happiness boost. Some studies even show that genuine, intense smiling can help you live longer.
Eat a balanced breakfast.
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Studies show that eating a balanced breakfast in the morning has numerous health benefits, including:
- Improved focus and concentration
- Better, more stable mood
- Lower risk of weight gain and obesity
- Improved immunity
- Better heart health
Kickstart your day with healthy fats and protein to keep you feeling full and energized. Some great options include:
- Whole grain oats with nut butter
- Scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies
- Full-fat yogurt with fruit
- A fruit smoothie with coconut oil, yogurt, and/or nut butter
Spend more time in nature.
Connecting with nature is an essential healthy habit to start today. It provides a much-needed respite from daily stressors, reducing anxiety and improving your mood. It’s even been found to help lower blood pressure, balance stress hormones, enhance immune system function, and increase self-esteem. Plus, exposure to natural sunlight aids in vitamin D production, supporting immune function and bone health.
Aim for 120 minutes in green spaces a week to increase wellness, happiness, and life satisfaction.
Do a digital detox.
In today’s hyper-connected world, constant screen time is common. But it can lead to eye strain, increased stress, disrupted sleep patterns, and decreased productivity.
Periodically disconnecting from your electronic devices can:
- Promote better focus
- Support more meaningful connections with loved ones
- Improve sleep quality
- Encourage more physical activity
- Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
Here are a few ways you can implement a digital detox:
- Set time limits, such as 30 minutes of social media per day
- Designate a device-free day each week
- Replace screen time with activities like nature walks, reading, or spending time with loved ones
- Remove tempting apps from your phone
- Establish device-free time periods or zones in your home
These are 10 simple, healthy habits to start today that can transform your life for the better. From getting more physical activity and embracing the power of a smile to prioritizing nature and taking digital detoxes, each small step can lead to significant improvements in your physical and mental health.
So why wait? Your journey to a happier and healthier you begins now.