Most common health problems, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many cancers, are linked to health habits such as smoking, what you eat, and how active you are. Changing these behaviors can have a big impact on your health and feelings of wellbeing.
There is no one “right” way to create a healthy lifestyle, but there are some habits that are common among healthy people. Here are seven habits of highly healthy people.
- Don’t smoke.
There is no way around this one—quit! Ask your doctor about prescription and over-the-counter medications that can make quitting easier. Ultimately, though, quitting smoking is a behavior change that takes motivation, willpower, social support and time.
- Sit less.
Prolonged sitting has been linked to negative health effects that are similar to those of not exercising. The good news is that you can offset the health effects of sitting too much at work and at home by taking short breaks to get up and move.
- Move more.
You should strive to be as active as possible throughout the day. At a minimum, aim for 30 minutes of activity each day, but more is better. You can meet this goal by taking the dog for a walk, playing with your kids (or grandkids), and doing housework or yard work. Even using the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away and walking to your destination are good ways to make activity a habit.
- Get regular exercise.
While being active on a daily basis is a good goal, there are additional benefits of doing structured exercise. This could include walking, running, or cycling outdoors, visiting a fitness center, a group exercise class, or a doing exercise at home. In addition to improving endurance, strength, and flexibility, regular exercise helps with weight control, can lower blood pressure, and helps prevents and treat diabetes.
- Eat smart.
Healthy eating isn’t necessarily about eating less or avoiding certain foods, it’s about making smart choices when you shop, cook, or eat out. Eating fresh and minimally processed foods, more fruits and vegetables, and less added sugar and salt are good ways to eat smart. Learning about the food you eat and cooking meals at home more often is another common recommendation.
- Chill out.
Chronic stress can have serious emotional, psychological, and physiological effects that lead to or exacerbate many health problems. While it is impossible to avoid all stress in life, minimizing stressors and managing the way you respond to stress can have important benefits.
Regular exercise, including yoga, managing time better, and getting enough sleep, can help with minimizing your feelings of stress as well as the effects it has on your body.
- Monitor your health.
Keeping track of your health status and habits can help you set goals, evaluate your progress, and prevent surprises, like “sudden” weight gain. Some of these are measurements your doctor will make including blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose. Others you can complete yourself like your weight, what you eat, and what you do for activity. It works, too: Research shows that people who weigh themselves regularly are better able to maintain weight loss.
Adopting these seven habits can help you prevent and treat many chronic diseases. Some of these behaviors may be difficult to change. But keep in mind that you don’t have to be perfect—even small changes can add up to big health benefits!
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