By: Adam Pounds, EIM Owner
If you ask most healthy people why they exercise every morning, carry around a bottle of water, or why they pull out the bag of carrots instead of chips, it’s likely that many of them will tell you, “It’s just a habit.”
Habits aren’t created in a day. It takes ongoing repetition to become a habit, but once it does, it’s second nature. You don’t even have to give it a second thought.
Getting healthy and staying healthy isn’t just a one-and-done kind of thing. To stay healthy, you have to create and maintain healthy habits and put them into action every single day.
5 Habits You Should Get Into to Stay Healthy (Pretty Much) Forever
Regular exercise can help prevent disease, as well as contribute to emotional wellness since your brain releases “feel good” chemicals while you take part in physical activity.
Exercise can be broken up into three different categories: cardio, strength training and flexibility.
When it comes to cardio, or aerobic activity, The American Journal of Sports Medicine recommends a weekly exercise amount of 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity.
That can equal 20 minutes a day, 35-50 minutes every other day, or 1 hour to 1 ½ hour twice a week.
A strength training program should be performed a minimum of two non-consecutive days a week with 1 set of 8-12 repetitions for healthy adults, or 10-15 repetitions for older or frail individuals.
Adults should also do flexibility exercises 2-3 days a week to improve range of motion. It’s recommended holding each stretch for 10-30 seconds, or 30-60 seconds for older individuals.
#2 Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
It’s recommended that 40-60% of your diet come from carbohydrates, 10-30% come from proteins, and 10-30% from fats.
Healthy carbohydrates are high in fiber and are low on the glycemic index so choose carbs that are made from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid refined carbs that contain added sugar.
Good protein comes from lean meat and legumes; they should rarely come from red meat.
The best fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats; like the fats that come from salmon, nuts and avocados. Avoid trans fats and saturated fats as much as possible.
#3 Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough shuteye every night can improve your immune function, memory, cognition and mood. Healthy people need to make sleep a priority, despite the busy schedules we all have these days.
How can you maximize your ZZZ’s?
Healthy adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night. People 65 and over should get 7-8 hours a night. To optimize your sleep, try to keep the same schedule for when you go to sleep and wake each day, and also try to limit your screen time for at least a half hour before you go to bed.
#4 Drink Plenty of Water
Consuming lots of water helps flush out toxins, carry nutrients and aid in cell renewal. Dehydration can cause health problems like chronic fatigue and dry skin.
Exactly how much H20 do you need?
Most men should drink at least 11-12 eight ounce glasses of water throughout the day while most women should aim for 8-9 eight ounce glasses.
But when in doubt, just drink more water!
#5 Enjoy Leisure Time or Meditate
This is an important part of an all-around healthy lifestyle!
Take time out of your day to do something that brings you joy; hang out with your friends and family if that helps you unplug and unwind.
Put your phone away! Researchers say even a minimum of 20 minutes of meditation a day can help you clear your head, improve your concentration levels and increase your creativity.
Healthy Habits Equal a Healthy Lifestyle
While healthy habits are crucial, it’s also helpful to set goals to keep you motivated to work towards getting healthier, but they need to be SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Timely
A SMART goal is beneficial because it’s narrowly defined and you can measure your progress with it. You can look back and easily see your overall success.
Setting SMART goals is a great technique for achieving large, more loosely defined goals. Setting short term goals and long term goals will keep you motivated to establish healthy habits and help you grow as an individual inside and outside of the gym.
Along with setting goals, I’d also like to note that it’s also important to know your risk factors and be proactive with your health. Be sure to take care of yourself by scheduling your regular physical exams like a colonoscopy, prostate exams, mammograms and pap smears. These types of regular screenings are crucial to ensure you catch anything in its early stages and have the best chance at remaining healthy.
Creating new habits and sticking to them may be hard at first, but trust me, over time, it’ll become second nature. By then, doing healthy things and making healthy choices will be habits that ensure you not only get, but stay healthy forever.