Joseph Pilates has rightly stated, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness.” Study after study suggest incorporating simple changes into your routine help increase life expectancy, and are vital in sidestepping serious illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. Although it is tempting to change everything at once, taking baby steps to develop healthy habits can ensure that you live long and live well.
Here is the list of quintessential habits that enrich your life and improve your happiness levels too.
1. Never Skip Breakfast
Having breakfast is extremely important for the body to perform to its optimal level. It jumpstarts the metabolism and prevents overeating later. Studies suggest that adults who eat breakfast are more energetic at work, and kids who develop a habit of having breakfast score better than those who skip it entirely. It is okay if you think a heavy breakfast or big plateful is not for you; consider keeping it light, either with a granola bar or some fruits – but never skip it.
2. Drink Plenty of Water to Avoid Dehydration
You may only drink plenty of water when the temperature soars outside. But, it’s a daily necessity no matter what the thermometer says. Eric Richard Allen, a personal trainer in Miami, says the key to living a healthy life is, ‘“Eat whole, drink water, stay active and be healthy.” He has always reinforced the idea of drinking plenty of water as it helps with weight loss and keeps every system in the body at its optimal level. Wondering why we are necessitating drinking water? Because it carries oxygen and nutrients within and outside the cell, flushes bacteria, aids in digestion, normalizes blood pressure and heart rate. Water also helps in cushioning joints, regulating body temperature and maintaining the electrolyte balance in your body.
3. Plan Your Meals
Planning ahead of time can save time and money in the long run. So take out some time and decide what your fitness goals are.
- Do you need to reduce weight?
- Do you want to gain healthy mass?
- Do you want to cut back on sugar or fats?
- Do you want to add vitamins or proteins in your diet?
Regardless of your fitness goals, meal preps will keep everything in order as you know what and when to eat; it also assists in skipping doughnuts or any other high sugar snacks at work.
4. Restrict Screen Time
Screens are addictive, and they leave a most harmful impact on the eyes. Macular degeneration, a health problem that leads to complete blindness, typically affects those aged 65 or above. Based on the blue light emitted from the screen, and the overall time youth spend on screens, ophthalmologists predict that the next generation is more likely to experience macular degeneration in their mid 40s. Therefore, one should limit their exposure to the screen, setting a time to log off from technology can help to cut back on-screen time. Consider replacing screen time by reading a book or doing something productive like chopping veggies for the next dinner, or taking a walk.
5. Take a Break from Exercise
Exercise undoubtedly plays a vital role in conditioning the body and building overall endurance, but that does not imply you should never give your body the break it needs. Symptoms that appear when your body needs a break include prolonged soreness, fatigue, and loss of motivation. In general, some days off will suffice to take care of this; however, if the condition persists, and you keep grinding through these feelings, then chances are high that you will end up with an illness or injury.
Thirty minutes of walking five days a week will assist in keeping the blues at bay. However, if you are already following a routine, consider swapping in different exercises to spice up your workout routine.
6. Learn New Skills
Learning new skills will keep the brain healthy. Different studies suggest any mental work you do can significantly reduce age-related problems, and even delay signs of Alzheimer disease. Consider engaging with various activities, such as signing up for a dance class, or enrolling in a creative writing online training program. Of course, the best thing will be learning a new language or building a better understanding of already known languages.
7. Refrain from Smoking
Sadly, over 15 million Americans are suffering from a disease caused by smoking. Giving up on cigarettes can be an excellent way to move towards a healthier and better life. You should know that it harms the lungs and affects heart rate and blood pressure. It causes strokes, cancer, and diabetes. Smoking also enhances the chances of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), certain eye diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. All these side effects are warning you; if you light up, quit the habit right away.
8. Have an Adequate Sleep
Adequate sleep gives your body and mind enough time to sharpen memory, keep you in a better mood and help you learn new things fast. In the long run, it reduces the risk of heart diseases and helps in reducing body weight. Aim for a 7-hour minimum sleep – set a schedule, sleep, and wake up at the exact time every day to kick start each day with more energy and enthusiasm. Every mentally and physically strong person understands the importance of a good night’s sleep; thus, always try to ensure a 7 to 9 hours sleep.
9. Head Outdoors
Taking time out from the busy schedule to head outdoors is vital for physical and mental well-being. We are in a continuous race to stay ahead, and we are surrounded by distraction. Thus, taking time out for one’s health and mental balance can seem like an extra burden; we work day and night tirelessly only to stay seated on the couch for hours, and think our mental and physical health will be fixed with a 30-minute gym session – it never works this way! You have to go the extra mile to maintain optimum health and mental balance. A few minutes walk in the sunshine elevates the vitamin D levels in your body, an essential component for your bones. In addition, you move your body more often when you are outside as you cannot park yourself in front of a computer or TV. A recent study suggests people who stroll in green areas are calmer than those who stay in built-up spaces. Therefore, if possible, it will be wiser to choose nature over city streets.
10. Train Your Muscles
Strength training assists in building a high-definition body mass. Strength training workouts also play a significant role in slimming you down, and strengthening your heart and bones. Bret Contreras, health expert and sports scientist said, “If you think lifting is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.”
There are various strength training exercises you can do at home, from push-ups and lunges to weightlifting and using resistance bands. Consider training twice a week to let your body trade fat for a healthy muscle mass. If you don’t know how to start, watch Youtube videos or book an online class to get started.
11. Move More
Walking, gardening and doing household chores where you move your body more is a small choice you should consider incorporating into your lifestyle in order to live a healthier and happier life. A day spent sitting in a car or on a couch cannot be fixed or compensated with a 20-minute gym session. Jay Clutter, bodybuilder and four-time Mr. Olympia said, “What hurts today makes you stronger tomorrow.”
Many health experts, therefore, recommend moving naturally throughout the day. For example, you could do a five to ten minute walk, choose stairs over elevators, and take a stretch breaks. All these minor changes will positively impact your life, and you will eventually feel healthier and happier. If you are a freelancer or working from home, don’t forget to make an effort to get out as much as you can.
12. Eat Less Meat and Dairy
If you swap just three percent of your daily calories from animal protein to plant protein, your life expectancy increases. In addition, various scientific evidence suggests that different dietary patterns like the Mediterranean diet, consisting largely of vegetables, beans, nuts and fruits, helps slow down cognitive decline and the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. You may be surprised to know that eating more vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of premature death by a whopping 41%.
13. Nurture Your Spirituality
Do you know adherence to religion and spirituality enables you to relinquish anxiety and depression? In addition, staying connected with religion or spirituality not just benefits you mentally but helps reduce cardiovascular risk, and the immune system will also perform better. Stephen Petranek, Senior Editor of science at Life magazine, says “We are all much healthier than we were 20 years ago, but mentally, we’re falling apart. The World Health Organization now estimates that one out of five people on the planet is clinically depressed.” Therefore, we suggest paying attention to religion or the spiritual side to lower depression and anxiety. The best way is to engage with the religious community who can guide you for a better and more peaceful path. Moreover, people who believe in God or life after death are less likely to commit suicide because they know God will have better plans for them.
14. Eating a Protein-Rich Diet
You may already have read or heard in a health magazine, or from a personal trainer, that protein possesses a high satiety value and promotes muscle growth in the body. It also plays a significant role in the replenishment of the body, and aids with minor wear and tear that happens with time. Therefore, one should always consider adding more proteins to the diet, such as: chicken breast, beef, eggs, fish, and low-fat yogurt.
15. Consume Healthy Fats
The human body requires a diet inclusive of a portion of fats in order to perform all of its functions optimally. The fats found in walnuts, soybean, flax seeds, and fish are unsaturated and beneficial to your health. Whereas artificial trans fats and saturated fats, that include: hydrogenated oils, meat, cheese, cream, butter, and chicken skin, can contribute to weight gain and clogged arteries – elevating the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, it is wiser to stick with food containing only unsaturated fats and omega-three fatty acids.