It seems that some people effortlessly move through life making the right choices. They know exactly what to order on the menu, wake up at the crack of dawn to enjoy a 10-mile morning jog and tuck themselves early to bed each night for a solid, dreamy, eight-hour sleep. If this isn’t you, then maybe trying to adopt some new habits towards a healthier lifestyle is still in your stars.
Making changes can seem daunting, but if you make things a habit with a six-week plan of repetition, any new discipline can become a healthy-lifestyle habit. Pick one or several of these seven highly-effective habits that healthy people practice everyday for an effortless new way of life.
7 Habits of Highly Healthy People
1. Early to bed, early to rise.
As the saying goes, this makes a man (or woman) healthy, wealthy and wise. Well to say that sleep is an important habit of living healthier is an understatement. Research shows that sound sleep is something that requires work. Sleeping 6-8 hours each night can actually help you live longer, maintain a healthy weight, and help you function better throughout the day. Make sure you’re trying to get to bed early and avoid late-night work sessions. Just as you start the day with a positive mantra, try to adopt a calming routine for evening. A warm bath, night-time reading or writing in a journal , or being in a dark, cool room are key for young and old alike. Also, new research shows that keeping one leg outside the sheets can help regulate body temperature more effectively. Lastly, if you’re suffering from lack of sleep, skipping your early morning workout and sleeping in may prove a better outcome (as long as it doesn’t become a regular opt-out).
2. Don’t worry, be happy.
Stress has been linked to several diseases as well as strokes and heart attack. How we handle stress is important to be aware of as well as what strategies we have in place when stressful events occur. The old thought of counting to 10 can still help keep blood pressure and heart rate from skyrocketing, but regular stress free practices like yoga, meditation and pilates may be useful in keeping stressful hormones damage our bodies. Another thought is to just take time to breathe consciously for as little as 2-3 minutes, journal throughout the day or listen to calming or classical music. The more you are conscious of how you react to stressful events, the better you’ll be able to stay calm and make a mind body connection.
3. The early bird gets the worm.
People who workout first thing in the morning are more likely to continue with a regular exercise program than those who workout at any other time of the day. Making exercise a daily ritual is key but keep in mind that you don’t have to go to a gym to get a workout. A morning walk, jog or yoga practice for at least 30 minutes can help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and even type II Diabetes. Strength training has considerable benefits especially after the age of 40, keeping bones strong and boosting metabolism from a leaner body. However, whether you workout in the morning or any other time of day, the key is a 30 minute routine of moderate intensity. If you workout at a lower intensity like a calming walk, keep in mind that the time spent walking should be almost double to obtain the same benefits. New recommendations for women over 40 include a 60 minute daily regimen for those wishing to receive health benefits.
4. Floss more.
Your gums give insight to the level of inflammation in the body. According to the American Dental Association, only 50% of Americans floss daily, 31% floss less than daily, and 18% do not floss at all. If you are part of that 50% who doesn’t feel flossing is a priority, you probably think brushing your teeth is enough. The truth is flossing along with brushing can prevent major health problems and help you hang onto your teeth longer. When plaque and tartar make homes underneath your gums, they can cause gum disease such as gingivitis, an inflammation of the tissue. Gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease. This can lead to bone loss and ultimately you will lose your teeth.
5. Be a free spirit.
Studies show that people who practice some form of spirituality live longer. It may be that praying or acknowledging a higher power gives time for reflection and reduces stress on the body. Attending church may also provide other health advantages including promotion of a healthier lifestyle and better social support. Such benefits could explain why religious people live longer.
6. Where’s the beef? The power of protein is known to rebuild cells in the body and of course muscles. But those who eat a minimum of 80-100 grams of protein daily manage their weight better than those getting less meat in their diet. Of course, meat is not the only source of protein and vegans show opt into understanding food combining for complete protein sources like rice and beans, but protein has other benefits in protecting the body from blood sugar surges and boosting the immune system. Look for fast food sources of lean protein - fast meaning while the animal was alive gives a good indicator or its lower cholesterol and fat- chickens move more than cows while shrimp move more than scallops. Both chicken and shrimp are some examples of lean sources of protein. However, even a daily diet of lean beef protein can have cholesterol lowering effects if eaten with other healthy foods as in the BOLD diet study.
7. Veg out. The average American has only 2-3 servings of fruits and vegetables while research shows us that eating 7-9 servings of these anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant packed foods can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease by 50%***. Vegetables typically pack more fiber than most fruits, but both are an important part of your diet. Look for variety and color as well as frequent servings.
Looking to eat more fruits & veggies? Try 4-3-2-1
- Four servings at breakfast. This might look like, a two egg, spinach, tomato omelette, a banana and glass of orange juice. (4 servings)
- Three servings at lunch: 2 cups mixed greens, sliced tomato, shaved carrots, cabbage and cucumber for a 3 serving salad--don’t forget to add the protein.
- Two servings at dinner: a baked potato and side of broccoli with a lean four-ounce filet.
- One more fruit or veggie as a dessert or snack. (Apples with peanut butter are such a treat!
Whether you’re a highly-effective healthy person or looking to move in that direction, these simple habits can become part of a lifestyle for a healthier, happier you.