In our increasingly fast-paced world filled with temptations, toxins, and stressful situations, embracing healthy lifestyle habits is more vital than ever. While occasional indulgences and rest days have their place, taking consistent proactive measures is key. In this article, we highlight five tips to improve health that can significantly enhance your quality of life–fast.
Work more movement into your day
Getting more exercise is one of the most important lifestyle habits you can adopt. Staying active not only helps maintain an optimal weight, but also:
- Boosts mood and energy levels
- Protects and improves brain health, potentially reducing the risk of dementia
- Strengthens bones and muscles
- Helps balance blood sugar, blood pressure, and stress levels
- Reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers
- Improves sleep quality
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, aerobic activity weekly, coupled with two strength-training sessions. Taking a brisk, 30-minute morning walk is a great start, and you can invest in a couple of dumbbells to build strength at home.
But in addition to daily workouts, try to get more movement throughout your day. If you sit a lot, perhaps to work at a desk, take frequent breaks to stretch and move around. Use coffee-breaks to take brief walks. Take the stairs instead of an elevator.
This gets you even more active, improving blood circulation and sharpening focus and concentration throughout the day, as well as magnifying the above-listed benefits of exercise.
Avoid empty calories
Making healthier food choices is another vital part of living a healthy lifestyle. And one of the most impactful dietary changes you can make is avoiding “empty calories” or simple carbohydrates like:
- White bread
- Refined pasta
- Other foods made with white flour like cakes, cookies, and crackers
- High-sugar items such as candies, pastries, and sodas
These simple carbs have been stripped of essential nutrients and are digested rapidly, leading to blood sugar spikes and subsequent hunger pangs. Since they don’t keep you full very long, eating simple carbs can lead to overeating, paving the way for weight gain and an elevated risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems.
Swap out simple carbs for more nutritious foods like:
- Whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, or quinoa
- Complex carbohydrate veggies, such as sweet potatoes or winter squash
- Fresh fruits
- Protein-rich legumes like lentils and beans
Get more vitamin D
40.9% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, a crucial nutrient for immunity, strong bones, mood, and many other aspects of our well-being. Making sure you’re getting enough is a quick and straightforward way to improve your health.
The easiest way to get more vitamin D is by getting out in the sun, which naturally prompts the body to produce this important nutrient. Just make sure to wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen as needed to protect yourself of sun damage.
If sun exposure isn’t an option, you can get vitamin D from foods like:
- Fish such as tuna, mackerel, and salmon
- Fortified orange juice
- Dairy products
- Fortified plant milks
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Or, of course, you can take a vitamin D supplement. Experts recommend taking 600 to 800 IUs, depending on your age and specific needs.
Meet with your healthcare provider to have your vitamin D levels tested and ensure you’re getting the right amount.
Water makes up about 66% of the human body and is vital for our survival. Maintaining proper hydration has a number of noticeable benefits, including:
- Delivering nutrients and oxygen to cells efficiently
- Flushing bacteria from the bladder
- Aiding digestion
- Cushioning joints
- Protecting organs and tissues by maintaining optimal moisture levels
- Regulating body temperature and blood pressure
On the other hand, dehydration can lead to serious complications, such as:
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney stones
- Seizures due to electrolyte imbalances
- Low oxygen levels in the body, which can lead to sudden drops in blood pressure, fainting, and other serious conditions
While older guidelines recommended eight 8-ounce cups of water daily for all adults, more current advice is to drink until you feel satisfied. Or use a water calculator that takes your bodyweight into account. You can find these calculators online.
Additionally, avoid drinking too much alcohol. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, speeding up fluid removal from the body, which can lead to quick dehydration.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
Prioritizing sleep is another deeply impactful way to better your physical health and overall well-being. Insufficient sleep not only leaves you feeling tired and more stressed during the day, but it can lead to insulin resistance, disrupt your appetite hormones, and, over time, increase your risk of developing chronic diseases.
Sleep deprivation is also linked to unhealthy dietary choices, increasing cravings for foods that are higher in fat, sugar, and calories. This can contribute to weight gain, obesity, and inflammation.
So make sleep a priority, aiming for about seven hours each night. Research suggests that those who sleep at least seven hours a night may live longer compared to those sleeping less.
If you struggle to wind down at night, try adopting a relaxing bedtime routine. Enjoy a cup of hot chamomile tea, a warm bath, and/or meditation to signal to your body that it’s time to rest.
Committing to these five healthy lifestyle habits can transform your overall well-being in a profound way. You’ll likely experience an immediate boost in energy, and in the long run, you’re taking proactive steps to protect your body from chronic and potentially life-threatening diseases. Every positive choice you make today lays the foundation for a healthier tomorrow.