3 Lifestyle Changes to Become Healthier
A healthy lifestyle looks different for everyone. It includes the little things you do daily to prioritize health and create lifelong habits that promote and sustain good health.
Eating a balanced diet, getting regular physical activity, and avoiding smoking are among the behaviors that can improve your health and increase your lifespan.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet is important to ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs for good health. It can also help reduce your risk of disease and maintain a healthy weight. Generally, healthy eating involves choosing foods and drinks that are low in fat, sodium (salt), and added sugars, while also consuming adequate amounts of fibre and protein.
A healthy dietary pattern should include lean meats, fish, poultry without skin, eggs, nuts, beans, vegetable oils, whole grains, fruits and low-fat dairy. The diet should be low in saturated and trans fats, and high in unsaturated fats and fibre. It should also contain less than 10% of calories from added sugars.
Changing your diet doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Rather, focus on making one or two small changes at a time. For example, if you want to cut down on your sugar intake, start by replacing your sugary beverages with water or unsweetened tea and coffee. You can then slowly begin to remove more unhealthy food items from your diet. Remember that a healthy diet is about making sustainable lifestyle choices that you can stick with for the long term. For more support with your diet and health goals, find a therapist who works with you on an individual basis.
2. Exercise Regularly
In addition to being good for your heart, bones and muscles, exercising regularly helps control weight, reduces stress, gives you energy and may help you sleep better. It also decreases your risk for chronic diseases that develop over time, such as type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Most people need to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like brisk walking) on most, or preferably all, days of the week, and do muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days each week. However, if you’re not active now, it’s important to start slowly and steadily build up how much exercise you do over time.
You can increase the amount of physical activity you do by taking short bursts of activity throughout the day, for example by going for a walk after work instead of sitting down to watch TV, or by parking further away from your workplace so that you have to walk more to get there. You can also get more physical activity by swapping some of your daily activities for ones that involve more movement, such as walking or cycling to work instead of driving, using the stairs rather than the lift, or standing while working on a computer or when talking on the phone.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a critical component of health and wellness. Getting enough quality sleep each night can help you maintain a healthy weight, boost your immune system and lower blood pressure. It can also improve your mood, and reduce stress levels. Getting adequate rest may even protect against heart disease, diabetes and depression. However, it can be difficult to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Work schedules, day-to-day stressors, a poor sleeping environment, and illness can all interfere with our ability to get the restful sleep we need.
To start, think about what a healthy lifestyle means to you. For some, it might mean walking to work instead of driving, eating a nutritious breakfast every morning and spending virtual or in-person time with loved ones on a regular basis. For others, it might mean training for and participating in two marathons a year, following a ketogenic diet, or never drinking a drop of alcohol.
Developing healthy habits can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort. Begin by making one small improvement to your daily routine – and stick with it. Over time, you can slowly build up the changes until you’re living the healthy life you deserve. You can even set a goal of trying out one new health behaviour every other month, and before long you’ll be among the healthiest ten percent of the population.