Increase Your Life Expectancy With These Healthy Habits
By Joe Updated on May 22, 2023
Hey there, folks! Have you wondered what is a healthy lifestyle exactly? You’re certainly not alone in always looking for ways to improve your life and to learn and grow. A healthy lifestyle is all about creating habits that improve your physical and mental wellbeing. Although important, it’s more than just working out and eating right; it’s about you as a whole and the harmony of mind, body, and spirit.
Diving into the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, you’ll find a treasure trove of rewards—from greatly improved energy and mood to a decreased risk of many chronic diseases. Starting a healthy lifestyle might seem overwhelming, but we’re here to simplify it for you. Think of this guide as one of your favorite healthy lifestyle books, but online and easily accessible at anytime when you’re looking for a boost.
We’ve compiled practical, easy-to-follow suggestions covering various aspects of health and wellness. From tips on stress management and workout advice to ideas for personal development and green living, we’ve got everything you need to kick-start your healthy lifestyle. So, let’s get right to it and start shaping your healthy lifestyle habits today!
- Regular exercise: I’m a bit biased towards exercise since my degree is in Exercise Physiology, but I’ve also used exercise as my “Keystone Habit” which helps me stay grounded. I’m sure you’ve heard a thousand times that just 30 minutes of exercise each day makes you “healthier”. But other than losing weight, what benefits do you really get? Glad you asked! Here are some of the other lesser-known benefits: Stress reduction, improved cognitive function, enhanced creativity, better sleep quality (and easier to fall asleep), disease control, boosted immune system, improved mood and emotional well-being (think anxiety and depression), enhanced self-confidence, and long-term brain health.
- Strength training: Here’s a fun fact – strength training exercises aren’t just for bodybuilders! Including them at least twice a week in your routine helps build muscle mass, boosts your balance, and ramps up your overall fitness. Simple bodyweight exercises like push-ups or squats at home can make a huge difference. Did you know that the more muscle you build, the more fat your body will burn? It’s like a 2 for 1 deal (and you’ll be able to carry all the groceries in just one trip)!
- Flexibility/stretching exercises: Bet you didn’t know that regular flexibility exercises can help improve joint mobility and reduce muscle stiffness (back pain anyone?). Just 10 minutes of stretching or simple yoga poses in the morning can help reduce body aches, help prevent injury, and improve your posture.
- HIIT workouts: Want a quick and efficient workout? Actually, the MOST efficient workout. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) will supercharge your metabolism and cardiovascular health and give you the biggest benefits in the shortest amount of time. Believe it or not, a 20-minute HIIT workout can burn as many calories as an hour-long jog! One of the wonderful benefits that many people aren’t aware of is that after a HIIT workout your body’s metabolism remains boosted for some hours after the workout, unlike a jog where your metabolism returns to baseline quickly after you’ve finished.
- Core exercises: Strengthening your core is like investing in a great foundation for a building. If you don’t invest the time and energy in the foundation, anything you try to build on top will be sub-optimal. A strong core helps improve posture, alleviates lower back pain, and enhances your ability in nearly all other physical activities. You don’t need to spend 30 minutes working your core either; try adding 2 different core exercises to your workouts and aim for 3 sets of 15 reps for each exercise.
- Active hobbies: Who said staying fit isn’t fun? Taking up an active hobby like dancing, hiking, sports, or gardening can turn your workouts into something you actually look forward to. It’s a sneaky way to stay active and enjoy every minute of it. Another 2 for 1 in developing your healthy lifestyle, and positive attitude!
- Physical activity breaks: Sitting for long periods can be more harmful than you think. It can cause or worsen back pain, weaken your muscles and bones, and reduce blood circulation. But don’t worry, taking short active breaks during the day can counteract these health risks. Try a quick walk, 3 minutes of stretching, or some light yoga every hour – your body will thank you as even these very short breaks are proven to be very effective in counteracting these negative effects.
- Outdoor activities: Outdoor activities are like the triple threat of fitness. You get a dose of vitamin D, a breath of fresh air, and a fitness boost. Activities like kayaking, cycling, soccer, or swimming are just a few examples of how you can use your membership to nature’s gym. Being healthy doesn’t mean you need to suffer, there are hundreds of outdoors activities to choose from so don’t get bummed out if the first few you’ve tried didn’t click with you.
- Sports participation: Looking for a fun way to stay fit and meet new people? Joining a local sports team or club can tick both boxes. Whether it’s basketball, tennis, or martial arts, there’s a sport for everyone. And yes, there are groups for all ages! Try searching online for teams or leagues in your area, ask around if anyone knows of any, or check the local church, community boards, and other shared communications.
- Fitness tracking: Keeping track of your fitness journey helps you stay motivated and improve your routine over time. The apps help you build healthy habits, and healthy habits keep you at a healthy weight. And with so many fitness tracking apps available, you’re almost certain to find one that fits your needs! You’re also likely to learn a thing or two from some of the apps. The more you learn, the more you can grow.
- Balanced diet: It might sound cliché, but a healthy diet truly is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle and good health. After all, your body is literally made up of the things you consume. Ensure to include a balanced combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in every meal, as these three macronutrients are vital for supplying energy and supporting optimal bodily functions. Plus, get this – research shows people who eat a balanced diet have a 25% lower risk of heart disease (the #1 cause of death in the world)!
- Hydration: Staying hydrated isn’t just about quenching your thirst, it’s vital for your overall health. Aim for 8 cups of water a day – it helps maintain bodily functions, keeps your skin glowing, aids digestion, and much more. Fun fact- the color of your urine can be an indicator of your hydration level, with lighter and clearer urine suggesting proper hydration and darker urine indicating potential dehydration. If you’re not sure if you’re drinking enough water each day, try using that as one indicator!
- Whole foods: Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are jam-packed with essential nutrients. You won’t need to take any vitamin pills since your body will get everything it needs from your healthy diet (plus, the body doesn’t use vitamins from pills as efficiently as from food). They’re also rich in fiber – an important part of your diet that 95% of Americans don’t get enough of!
- Portion control: Eating balanced meals is great, but overeating can lead to health issues. Implementing portion control helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. A good strategy here is planning ahead by packing your lunch into small containers the night before so you’re all set to go in the morning.
- Reducing processed foods: This is an incredibly important one in a healthy lifestyle. Processed foods can be high in unhealthy fats, sugars, sodium, and chemicals. Swapping them with whole foods can drastically improve your health, and fast! So, next time you feel a snack-attack coming, reach for an apple instead of that bag of chips. You’ll be surprised how fast it quenches your craving and how good you feel after! One small step at a time, don’t get overwhelmed.
- Cooking at home: Home-cooked meals allow you to control what goes into your food. Plus, it’s a great way to save extra money and unleash your inner chef. You might be surprised how simple and rewarding cooking can be.
- Healthy snacks: When hunger strikes between meals, healthy snacks are your best friends. A great strategy here is to keep the healthy snacks out and visible while any less-healthy options are out of sight and in hard to access places. You are much more likely to grab the closer options. Some healthy options include fruit, nuts, and yogurt.
- Eating a variety of foods: Every food has different nutrients, so variety is key. Eating different foods also keeps your meals interesting and helps expand your palate. The more colorful your plate, the more nutritious it’s likely to be (skittles “taste the rainbow” doesn’t apply here!).
- Limiting added sugars: Too much sugar is bad news for your health in many different ways. Just one small soda, such as a 12oz coke, contains a whopping 9 teaspoons of added sugar. How about a large Dunkin’ Caramel Swirl Frozen Coffee With Cream? 43 teaspoons of added sugar! Reducing sugar intake can lower the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dental issues, while improving stable energy levels and overall well-being.
- Mindful eating: Eating mindfully is about enjoying your food and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. It’s a simple practice that can transform your relationship with food and help prevent overeating. On average, it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you are full. Try eating a bit slower and allowing time for your stomach to communicate to your brain how full you are. Healthy living through diet is critical to living a healthy lifestyle and can increase your life expectancy and reduce health problems.
- Mindfulness meditation: Did you know mindfulness can physically change your brain and improve brain health? Just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation a day can reduce cortisol and improve focus. For a first-timer, simple mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the breath, observing thoughts and sensations without judgment, and gently redirecting the attention when it drifts away. Anyone can try it and it gets easier each time. Start learning and give it a shot today! Here’s a great beginners guide to meditation that breaks it down for you.
- Positive affirmations: Have you heard the saying “Your life is what your thoughts make it”? There is much more truth here than some people may realize, and science is proving this over and over. Positive affirmations can help you combat negative thoughts and build self-confidence. Something as simple as telling yourself “I am capable” can set a positive tone for your day.
- Limiting screen time before bed: Blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your sleep by suppressing melatonin production, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. Aim to turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime to help your body prepare for rest. Consider replacing screen time with calming activities like reading, meditation, or gentle stretching. You can also take advantage of the built-in blue light filter settings on newer iPhones and Androids that automatically reduces blue light at night.
- Hobbies and passions: Engaging in activities you love improves mental well-being and is a great tool in the stress management arsenal. Whether it’s painting, reading, or gardening, find your passion and make time for it each week, even if you can only find a few minutes. Still searching for a hobby? Explore unfamiliar activities until you discover something that captivates your interest! How about traveling? Check out these amazing places you can travel without a passport!
- Deep breathing exercises: Deep breathing isn’t just for yoga class. It’s a quick and highly effective way to reduce manage stress and anxiety. You might believe that because it’s such a simple activity that it can’t possibly produce big results. See for yourself! The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few big, deep breaths and feel the tension melt away. What have you got to lose?
- Gratitude journal: Keeping a gratitude journal can shift your focus from negative to positive aspects of your life. Did you know that people who regularly practice gratitude have lower levels of stress and depression? The more you identify and write about the things you’re grateful for, the more your brain will automatically start to look for more reasons to feel that positive feeling. It’s like an endless positivity cycle in your new healthy lifestyle!
- Social connections: Strong social connections are associated with a longer, happier life. Stay in touch with loved ones, make time for quality connections, and don’t underestimate the power of a good chat! Even the small things make a difference, for you and others! The next time you’re waiting in line for something and the opportunity arises, say hi to a stranger and ask how their day is going. They’ll be pleasantly surprised that you asked, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how you feel after the interaction. Be careful though, that wonderful feeling is addicting!
- Limiting caffeine: Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, reduced clarity, and disrupt your sleep. If you’re a caffeine addict like myself, try ensuring that you eat before consuming caffeine, don’t mix multiple sources of caffeine, and avoid caffeine a minimum of 6 hours before sleep. Although it may not feel like it, caffeine can stay in your body for up to 10 hours.
- Mastering the Art of Saying No: Explore the transformative power of saying no and how it can empower you to create boundaries and cultivate a healthier, more balanced daily life. This doesn’t mean rejecting every proposal or shutting people out, but rather, protecting your energy and time from things that don’t serve you. It may initially feel uncomfortable, but with practice, setting these boundaries can become second nature and profoundly improve your mental well-being.
- Seeking professional help: Encountering struggles in life is a shared human experience, and it’s perfectly okay to seek professional help during such times. Mental health professionals are equipped to help navigate through your feelings, and provide strategies to handle stress and anxiety. They provide a supportive environment where you can safely express and explore your feelings, and learn coping mechanisms. This proactive approach to mental health can significantly improve your emotional well-being over time.
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule: Creating and sticking to a regular sleep schedule can significantly improve the quality of your sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your body’s internal clock, leading to more restful and restorative sleep. Try to maintain this schedule, even on weekends, for the best results.
- Optimizing Your Bedroom Environment: Your bedroom should be a sanctuary that promotes rest and sleep. Factors like temperature, noise, and light can significantly impact the quality of your rest. Try to setup an optimal sleep environment by maintaining a cool room temperature, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), doing your best to minimize noise, and keeping the room dark or dimly lit if that is your preference. Have you ever tried to sleep in a hot, humid environment with loud music and flashing lights? Not so “calming”, right? Personally, I can’t fall asleep without the wonderful white noise sound of a fan!
- The Role of Exercise in Sleep: Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy deeper sleep. Exercise promotes the release of endorphins and helps alleviate stress, both of which contribute to improved sleep quality. However, try to avoid intense exercise too close to bedtime (2-3 hours before), as it may leave you feeling too energized to fall asleep. Timing and planning is important.
- Managing Daytime Naps: While napping can be beneficial for some people, long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you decide to take a nap, limit yourself to 20-30 minutes and opt for a mid-afternoon snooze rather than the morning or late evening. This brief rest can help recharge your batteries without disrupting your sleep schedule. Napping for longer periods puts your body in the middle of a sleep cycle and you may wake up feeling groggy instead of more alert and full of energy.
- Managing Worries for Better Sleep: Stress and worries can significantly interfere with your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Develop a routine to manage your worries before bedtime, try using some of the above mentioned tactics such as journaling, deep breathing exercises, or meditation. By addressing your concerns in a structured and logical way, you can help clear your mind and prepare for a more restful night’s sleep.
- Eating and Drinking Habits for Better Sleep: Your dietary habits can affect the quality of your sleep. Try to avoid heavy meals and stimulating substances like caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Instead shoot for easily digestible foods in the evening and consider instead a calming herbal tea to help prepare your body for rest. Healthy habits like these can really improve the quality of your life.
- The Benefit of a Bedtime Ritual: A relaxing routine before bedtime can signal your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing some gentle yoga can help you transition from the hustle and bustle of the day to a more peaceful state of mind.
- Investing in Sleep Comfort: The quality of your sleep can be directly affected by your physical comfort. Invest in a good quality mattress, supportive pillows, and breathable bed linens. You might be surprised how much the comfort of your bed can impact your sleep, overall health, and well-being. I switched to memory foam pillows about 10 years ago and could never go back to the traditional style.
- Setting Personal Goals: Setting personal goals can provide a clear sense of direction and purpose in your life. Be sure to make them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Humans thrive on making progress, and achieving goals, no matter how small, creates momentum, confidence, and a sense of pride in your life.
- The Value of Lifelong Learning: Embrace lifelong learning as a strategy for personal growth and adaptation to change. Expanding your knowledge through books, courses, or new skills can improve your cognitive function, self-confidence, and overall life satisfaction. Remember, learning is a journey, not a destination. Try to identify by which methods you learn best, and aim to frame your learning in that way as often as possible.
- Effective Time Management: Effective time management can help you achieve more in less time, leading to more free time and less stress. Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency, learn to delegate, and remember that it’s okay to say no when your plate is full. Remember, a schedule is not meant to constrain you, it’s meant to help you. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t end up following the schedule 100%, simply aim to do a little better than you did the previous week and over time you won’t believe the results you achieve.
- Financial Literacy for financial freedom: Understanding how money works is an essential life skill. And it’s much easier to learn these skills and apply them than you may ever have imagined. Don’t let fear and anxiety shroud the knowledge of personal finance in dark, scary clouds. There are thousands of free articles, videos, and classes you can begin with to learn the basics. Knowledge is power that no one can ever take away from you. You can do it!
- Cultivating a Positive Mindset: A positive mindset can transform your life by improving your mood, boosting your confidence, and reducing the risk of stress-related disorders. Practice gratitude, surround yourself with positive influences, and remember that your perception can shape your reality. Albert Einstein puts it best with his quote “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
- Embracing Change for Personal Growth: Change is the only constant in life, and learning to embrace it can lead to significant personal growth. Each change brings new opportunities for learning and development. Remember, change isn’t necessarily a negative event; it can open doors to new possibilities you might never have considered.
- The Power of Self-reflection: Regular self-reflection can provide valuable insights into your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Whether it’s through journaling, meditation, or simply taking a few moments each day to contemplate, self-reflection can lead to a deeper understanding of yourself and a more purposeful direction in life.
- Practicing Resilience: Resilience isn’t about avoiding stress, but rather learning to thrive within it. It’s about bouncing back from adversity and developing the strength to handle whatever life throws your way. Adopting a positive mindset and focusing on what you can control are two key strategies for building resilience. If you ever forget just how strong you really are, take out a pen and piece of paper and write down all the things you’ve had to overcome in your life to get to where you are today. You’ll soon realize that you’re quite a bit tougher than you may have realized.
- Building Self-esteem: A healthy level of self-esteem can significantly improve your mental health and overall well-being. Practice self-love and self-acceptance, and remember, your worth is not determined by others’ opinions of you. Every person is unique and deserving of happiness, and it’s important to recognize and celebrate that.
- Living Mindfully: Mindfulness is about being fully present and engaged in the current moment. By focusing on the here and now, you can enhance your enjoyment of life, reduce stress, and respond to challenges in a more calm and composed manner. Remember that the only time we ever have is now, we cannot go back in time, and we cannot visit the future, if we are not present in each moment, are we really living?
- Green Living for a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting eco-friendly habits can benefit both your health and the environment. Small changes, like recycling, reducing waste, and conserving energy when possible, can make a big difference over time. You’ll also find that many eco-friendly choices, such as biking instead of driving, also improves your health.
- The Benefits of Being Outdoors: Spending time in nature can significantly improve your mental and physical health. Regular outdoor activities can boost your mood, improve your focus, and provide a good dose of vitamin D. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of outdoor time into your daily routine, whether that’s through a walk, a bike ride, or a sitting on a park bench enjoying the fresh air. There’s nothing quite like feeling a cool breeze with the sun on your face.
- Houseplants for Health and Happiness: Houseplants do more than just beautify your space; they can also improve air quality and boost your mood. Taking care of plants can be a therapeutic activity that promotes mindfulness and stress relief. Start with easy-to-care-for plants like succulents or spider plants and gradually expand your indoor garden.
- The Power of Decluttering: A clutter-free space can lead to a clutter-free mind. Regular decluttering can create a more peaceful and productive environment, plus you might rediscover some forgotten treasures in the process. Try to set aside some time each week for decluttering and organizing your space.
- Sustainable Consumption for Health and Environment: Consider the environmental impact of your consumption habits. Opting for sustainably-produced goods can benefit the planet and often leads to healthier choices. For example, locally-grown produce not only supports local farmers but also tends to be fresher and more nutrient-dense.
- Noise Control for Peace of Mind: Noise pollution can be a significant source of stress and can disturb your peace. Consider using earplugs or noise-canceling headphones in noisy environments, and strive to create a quiet and serene space for relaxation at home. You’d be surprised how much a quiet environment can enhance your focus and productivity.
- Harnessing Natural Light: Natural light can do wonders for your mood and overall health. It helps regulate your body’s internal clock, enhances your mood, and can even boost productivity. Arrange your workspace or living area to maximize any sunlight that is available to you, and be sure to open the curtains during the day to soak in the sun’s benefits.
- Reducing Plastic Use for a Healthier Planet: Plastic pollution is a pressing environmental issue that impacts ecosystems and wildlife. By switching to reusable shopping bags, water bottles, and straws, you can help mitigate this problem. Remember, each small change contributes to a more sustainable and healthier planet. No single person can fix this problem on their own, but if we each hold ourselves accountable for caring for our planet, we can bring about drastic changes together.
- Community Involvement for Environmental Action: Participating in local environmental initiatives is a fantastic way to make a positive impact and connect with like-minded individuals. Whether it’s a local cleanup drive, tree planting event, or community gardening project, your involvement can contribute to a healthier environment and community. This is also a great way to expand your social network and make new friends.
Alright friends, you’ve got this! Committing to a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore – make it fun, make it yours. Thanks for hanging out with us on this post, and remember, your healthy lifestyle is just a few good habits away!