Living a healthy life can be a complicated goal to achieve. There are many different facets of healthy living to tackle, from weight management to mental health. You can find an overwhelming amount of information on the internet, self-help guides, gyms, schools, and doctor's offices, but what tips do they all have in common? We've compiled a list of the ten tips to living a healthy lifestyle that are widely accepted by many sources as "easy wins" for any person.
The benefits of exercise reach far beyond the physical. Research shows that getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day can help your mental well-being, your stress levels, and even lengthen your life. Unfortunately, less than 21% of adults get the recommended amount of exercise. Even low-impact exercise, such as walking or dancing can be beneficial.
Always discuss implementing a workout plan with your doctor, and be careful not to exhaust yourself as you begin. Be warned that working out is not an immediate cure for any disease. Continued exercise, however, will return benefits.
A 2010 study completed by the CDC showed that 69% of adults are overweight. With that statistic in mind, it's important to keep your weight under control.
Try to make some easy-to-accomplish goals, and enlist a friend or partner to keep you accountable. It's also a good idea to start a food journal so you can see if there are any common times of day that you crave sweets, or times that you're eating when you don't need to. If you keep track of your eating habits, you may be able to change them for the better.
3. Get Control of Your Finances
According to a recent an Associated Press-AOL Health poll, people who say they suffer from high stress due to debt were much more likely to suffer from health problems than those who weren't dealing with money troubles. Most studies in this field show that low incomes are linked to poor health, high levels of debt, and increased stress. Studies also show that debt can increase the chances of ulcers, digestive tract problems, and migraines.
To start tackling debt, create a budget for yourself and your family, and set reasonable spending limits. There are many free tools available online to help you reach your financial goals.
4. Break Bad Habits
Whether it's smoking, nail-biting, or binge drinking, bad habits can have unintended consequences. It's important to face the bad habit head on, and focus your efforts into defeating it. Surround yourself with people who either do not engage in that habit, or have conquered it. You may need to enlist the help of health professionals, from counselors to physicians, but with some help, you can break out of a bad pattern.
5. Carve out Time for Friends and Family
Hanging out with friends is fun, and researchers have discovered that socializing with close friends can cut your risk for memory loss in half. The study also revealed that spending time with friends can increase your chances of staying mobile and being able to cope with life's challenges by up to 150%. A study from Blisstree.com reported that 36% of people say their nutrition is affected by their friends and family, and 46% said that loved ones make a difference in their lifestyles. It's increasingly apparent that being a social butterfly can keep you mentally, emotionally, and physically happy.
Being a parent - and spending time with your parents - can also keep you healthy. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that women who gave birth to children were four times less likely to die early from cancer, accidents or circulatory disease.
Sleeping is your body’s way of healing itself, regenerating cells, and releasing helpful hormones. A study conducted in 2005 found that adults who slept less than seven hours a night were significantly more likely to be overweight. Another study at Harvard linked a lack of sleep to increased risks of colon cancer, breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Individuals 3-18 should get ten hours of sleep. 19-55 year old should get 8 hours of sleep, and those 65 and over should get at least 6 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is so important that you’ll die from sleep deprivation before you die of starvation. Sleep deprivation is fatal after 10 days, whereas death from starvation occurs at 14 days.
While a job may give you self-esteem, sticking with a job you hate can negatively impact your health. A study published in the Human Relations Journal claimed that individuals who stayed at their jobs out of necessity or obligation had an increased instance of stress, exhaustion, and burnout. A European study also found that individuals that worked over ten hours a day had a 60% chance of heart-related problems vs. those that worked eight hours a day.
8. Physical Health
While men and women age differently, it's important to keep up with your doctor for regular check-ups. Getting examined by your doctor regularly is the primary way to detect the early signs of cancer, along with other illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or bone diseases like osteoporosis. For example, cervical cancer diagnoses dropped 74% between 1955 and 1992 due to doctors implementing yearly PAP tests.
9. Mental Health
Mental disorders are the primary diagnosis in hospital visits over 63 million times per year. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, mental illness affects 1 in 5 Americans. With mental illness so prevalent in society, it’s important to keep symptoms and signs in mind, and be open an honest with others if you believe you may be suffering from a mental illness.
10. Lend a Hand
Schedule some time dedicated to serving others. Researchers at the London School of Economics examined the connection between volunteering and degrees of happiness in a large group of American adults. The study showed that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Compared with people who never volunteered, the odds of being “very happy” rose 7% among individuals who volunteered monthly and 12% for people who volunteered every 2-4 weeks. Among weekly volunteers, 16% felt very happy.