Healthy lifestyle choices can provide both immediate and long-lasting benefits. But it can be hard to know where to start. In this article, we’ll cover 6 of the most crucial healthy lifestyle tips and show you how simple changes to your daily routine can make a big difference.
By adopting these habits, you’ll protect yourself from serious diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer, while also feeling more energized and managing your weight. But for many, the first question is what is a healthy lifestyle?
What is a healthy lifestyle, exactly?
A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that promotes physical and mental well-being and reduces the risk of illness and premature death. It involves regular practice of habits that not only meet your body’s physical needs but also address your mental health. These habits include eating a balanced and nutritious diet, engaging in regular exercise, managing stress effectively, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors like smoking and excessive alcohol or drug use.
Contrary to popular belief, staying in good health doesn’t have to be complicated. Small but impactful healthy lifestyle changes can make a significant difference in your overall health and longevity, while helping you feel better throughout your daily life. Research shows that people who incorporate several of the healthy habits listed above can enjoy significantly longer lives than those who don’t.
In fact, a recent study found that women who incorporate these habits into their lifestyle can add 14 years to their lifespan, while men can add 12 years if they start at age 50. Conversely, those who do not adopt these habits are more likely to experience serious health conditions like cancer and cardiovascular disease, leading to premature death.
6 Healthy lifestyle tips
Here are six of the most important and impactful health lifestyle changes you can make today.
Adopt healthy eating habits
If you’ve been on and off the dieting roller coaster for some time, you probably know all too well that restrictive, crash diets never work, long-term. You might lose a few pounds, but you’ll be miserable…and you’ll have such intense cravings, you’ll gain the weight right back–and then some. This is called the Yo-Yo diet effect.
A much better strategy for weight reduction and overall health is adopting a balanced diet you can stick to, which allows you to enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods–without obsessing over calories or restriction. Most experts agree that a healthy, balanced diet focuses on the following foods:
- Vegetables and fruits
- Whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy products
- Lean meats, poultry, and fish
- Nuts and seeds
It’s also crucial to limit your consumption of ultra-processed foods that contain saturated and trans fats, excess sodium, and added sugars, such as:
- Processed meats like hot dogs, lunch meats, and pepperoni
- Packaged snacks, such as commercial or store-bought pastries, cakes, and cookies
- Fried foods
- Refined grains like white bread and pasta
- Sodas, and other sugary beverages
- Canned soups and frozen meals
Adopting a healthy diet that limits or eliminates processed foods and instead prioritizes whole, nutritious options can have a significant positive impact on your overall health. It can help reduce inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, and improve overall well-being–even benefitting your mental health.
Why whole foods matter: eating healthy tips
If there’s one healthy eating tip you’ll want to adopt relating to your diet, it’s eating whole foods: foods that have not been processed, or at least minimally processed. Some examples of whole foods are:
- Fresh produce like kale, spinach, avocados, apples, or pears
- Whole grains, such as oats, brown rice, and barley
- Nuts and beans
Examples of minimally processed foods to eat include:
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
- Whole wheat flour
- Fresh poultry or meat that has not been modified, cured, or preserved
Processed foods lead to chronic inflammation, a condition that plays a key role in many diseases, some of which are becoming more common and severe. Whereas whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are anti-inflammatory. Inflammatory disease can run rampant in your system, making it impossible to lose weight even when dieting.
A balanced diet is one based on whole foods that includes a mix of protein, carbohydrates, nutrients, and healthy fats like avocado and olive oil. “The ideal diet is to eat foods in their natural state or as close to their natural state as possible” according to Jennifer Brooks, President of GOLO LLC.
Develop a regular exercise routine
Getting plenty of exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Regular physical activity not only helps with weight management but improves everything from cognition and mental health to bone and muscle strength to disease prevention.
Only 28% of Americans get enough regular exercise. This means a large portion of the population is at increased risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer and has a 20 to 30% higher risk of death. But you can negate these risks more easily than you may think.
Physical activity examples
Everyone can experience the health benefits of physical activity, regardless of age, demographics, or physical agility. What matters is you pick a kind of physical activity you enjoy, and that you’ll stick to. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.
Great physical activity examples include:
- Walking or running
- Swimming or water aerobics
- Strength training
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep
One third of the population doesn’t get enough sleep, and is therefore at serious risk of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression. So getting enough sleep is a surefire way to improve your health and longevity.
Obesity and sleep problems often go hand-in-hand. According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, a sleep-related breathing disorder that leads individuals to repeatedly stop breathing during sleep. Not only does sleep apnea seriously affect one’s quality of sleep, but it can also lead to health risks such as stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Along with exercising and eating a healthy diet, there are certain minerals that can support your sleep quality. Magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc are all associated with improved quality of sleep, as well as healthy weight management.
Learn how to manage stress
Stress has a negative impact on your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, and takes a toll on your body–especially when it’s chronic. Chronic stress can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Being able to recognize common stress symptoms (such as rapid heart rate, chest pains, headaches, sleep problems, or even muscle aches) is the first step toward managing them. The second step is using stress reduction techniques like self-compassion, mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing, to name a few. Eating nutritious foods, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly can also help to reduce stress.
Reduce exposure to environmental toxins
Another healthy lifestyle change to consider is reducing your exposure to environmental toxins, such as electromagnetic fields (EMF), which can negatively impact your physical and mental health. EMF radiation from electronic devices and appliances can disrupt natural body processes, leading to various health issues, including headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and even cancer.
One way to reduce EMF exposure is through earthing–also called grounding–which involves connecting to the Earth’s electrical field through direct contact (such as walking barefoot in the grass or sand) or grounding mats. Earthing has numerous health benefits, including reduced pain and inflammation, improved sleep quality, and heightened mood and energy levels.
To further reduce EMF exposure, you can limit your use of electronic devices and appliances–especially at night–and keep them away from your body whenever possible. Simple practices like using hands-free devices for phone calls, placing laptops on a table instead of on your lap, and turning off Wi-Fi routers can help tremendously.
In addition to reducing EMF exposure, regular body detoxification is crucial for eliminating accumulated toxins. This can be achieved through various practices like eating a diet rich in antioxidants, drinking plenty of water, regular exercise, or even sauna therapy. By supporting the body’s natural detoxification processes, these practices can improve overall health and reduce the risk of illness and disease.
Choose the right supplements for health and longevity
Supplements are another important consideration when making healthy lifestyle choices. While there’s no substitute for a balanced and nutritious diet, supplements can fill in gaps in your diet and ensure adequate nutrient intake.
For example, omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements can help support heart health and brain function. Vitamin D supplements can help maintain healthy bones and immune function, especially in areas with limited sunlight. And probiotics can help promote healthy gut bacteria, which can improve digestion and support the immune system.
Try these healthy lifestyle tips today
Making healthy lifestyle changes might seem intimidating at first. But even a small step towards eating a balanced diet, following a regular exercise routine, limiting toxin exposure, and reducing your stress levels can make a big difference.