I’ve been on a health kick for over a decade. I’ve researched, experienced and learned so much about living healthfully. I put together a list of 10 simple habits to improve overall health.
- Drink water. A lot of it. Water is essential for homeostasis and life in general. Most people believe they already drink a lot of water, but if you actually start to measure how much water you consume, you may be surprised at what you find. Many health experts recommend 1 gallon of water a day. 8 cups for a total of 64 oz is the absolute minimum amount of water that is recommended to the average person. Physical activity and energy expenditure will also affect the amount of water that is needed. Water is always a better choice than ANY other drink.
- Minimize alcohol. Or if you’re really dedicated and passionate about your health, avoid it altogether. Alcohol is a toxic substance that is very hard for the body to digest, placing undue pressure on many of our vital organs. Drinking alcohol will not only cause bloating and dehydration, it can affect your decision making which may result in binge eating or other bad decisions. There’s no good reason to drink alcohol. If you want to read more about the harmful effects of alcohol check out this informational read from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism here.
- Move your body. I’m not just talking about exercise. Exercise is a planned and repetitive type of body movement that is designed to improve fitness. I’m talking about moving our bodies all throughout the day, everyday. Take the stairs, go for a walk, get up and stretch frequently, everyday. The human body is a dynamic entity that REQUIRES physical activity to function properly. Our bodies are meant to move, and not just for 30 minutes at a time, 3 times a week.
- Exercise regularly. Yes, we need to move all day, but we also need a more vigorous type of body movement. With exercise, we place stress on the body so that when life places stresses on us, we are better prepared to deal with it. With exercise we elevate our heart rate, strengthening our heart muscle. For more information on how to achieve physical fitness, read my post on the 5 components of fitness.
- Make your food at home. Sure it is convenient to get take out, go to a restaurant, drive thru, whatever. Restaurants, even healthier ones, make food that is meant to taste good, not necessarily taking health or digestion into consideration. Making food at home means you get to control how much oil, salt and added chemicals get into your food. And of course, its way cheaper to make food at home. Most of us are too busy throughout the week to prepare our foods daily, that is why I recommend meal prepping all your food for the week in just a few hours. Check out my posts on meal prepping here. Its important to know that the purpose of eating is to sustain our cells with energy to perform our daily functions. Looking to food for pleasure will create an unhealthy relationship with food, as well as an unhealthy body. Realize that nutrition is what your body NEEDS. Pleasing the tastebuds should not be a top priority, although healthy food can be made tasty too 🙂 Check out my recipes for healthy, easy, and yummy foods.
- Minimize processed food. Going to the grocery store and buying frozen dinners, chips and canned food doesn’t count as making your food at home. Buying foods in their unprocessed form will always be the healthiest option. Choosing whole foods like whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit will always be a better option than their processed counterparts.
- Track your food intake. This is the best way get an idea of which nutrients you’re getting too much of, and which ones you’re lacking. Using an app like myfitnesspal makes food tracking effortless. Tracking your food intake is an effective way to get a grasp on what you’re putting into your body.
- Get adequate rest. Sleep is an important yet overlooked aspect of health. Getting enough sleep is essential for optimal brain function, emotional regulation and general quality of life. Our body is repairing itself during sleep and research is constantly supporting the notion that sleep is an important part of health and wellness. 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended every night.
- Practice deep breathing and meditation. This is more for our mental health, which is equally as important as physical health. What good does it do us to have a healthy body if we are stressed, depressed, anxious or irritable? All of these mental states can be improved with breathing techniques. Simply set aside 2-3 minutes per day for focusing on your breath, and nothing else. The best time to do this is before bed, since most of us are too busy during the day to remember to practice breathing. Set a timer for yourself, it can be anywhere from 2-10 minutes. Take some of the deepest breaths you can take. Don’t let your mind wander towards anything else, just stay focused on your breath. Making a regular habit of deep breathing not only expands our lung capacity and increases our oxygen absorption, it also can help to ease the mind.
- Spend more time in nature. Being outdoors can help take our minds away from the stresses of our daily lives. Spending time outside can help boost our happiness and soak up some vitamin D from the sun (SPF on the face always though). People who spend more time outdoors tend to be more physically fit. There are even some studies that show that being around plants and vegetation can improve our immunities.
These are some of my favorite ways to stay healthy and happy. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. If you liked it, please share with your friends, or leave a comment and let me know.