The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle Living a healthy lifestyle is a fundamental component to achieving your optimal mental and physical well-being. Adopting healthy habits can reduce the risk of various diseases, including those that may run in your family. In addition to the physical benefits, leading a healthy lifestyle can also improve your overall well-being and reduce healthcare costs2.
What is a Healthy Lifestyle? A healthy lifestyle can mean different things to different people. It involves making choices that make you happy and feel good. This can include eating nutritious foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and prioritizing your mental health.
The Benefits of a Healthy Lifestyle Making changes to improve your health can lead to benefits for your body, your mind, your wallet, and even the environment. Healthy habits can prevent disease, save money on healthcare costs, and lengthen lifespan.
1. Eat a balanced diet
A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from different food groups, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
The benefits of a balanced diet:
Eating a balanced diet provides important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to keep the body and mind strong and healthy.
It can also help ward off numerous diseases and health complications, as well as help maintain a healthy body weight, provide energy, allow better sleep, and improve brain function.
How to eat a balanced diet?
To eat a balanced diet, aim to include at least 400g (i.e. five portions) of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots).
Limit your intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake (which is equivalent to 50g or about 12 level teaspoons for a person of healthy body weight consuming about 2000 calories per day), and ideally less than 5% for additional health benefits.
Consume less than 30% of your total energy intake from fats and prefer unsaturated fats over saturated fats and trans-fats.
2. Stay well hydrated
Why is hydration important? Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. The human body comprises around 60% water and it’s commonly recommended that you drink eight 8-ounce (237-mL) glasses of water per day (the 8×8 rule).
The benefits of staying hydrated Staying
hydrated can help support physical performance, prevent headaches and constipation, and more.
It can also significantly affect energy levels and brain function. Studies show that even mild dehydration, such as the loss of 1–3% of body weight, can impair many aspects of brain function.
How to stay hydrated?
To stay hydrated, aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. You can also increase your fluid intake by eating foods with high water content, such as fruits and vegetables.
3. Exercise regularly
Why is exercise important? Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories. There are many types of physical activity, including swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing, to name a few.
The benefits of regular exercise
Regular exercise has been shown to help boost energy levels and enhance your mood.
It may also be associated with many other powerful health benefits, including a reduced risk of chronic disease.
Exercise can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. It delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.
How to exercise regularly?
To exercise regularly, aim to engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week.
This can include moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or jogging.
You can also incorporate strength training exercises into your routine at least two days per week.
4. Get enough good sleep
Getting good quality sleep can help you feel like your best self. Healthy sleep patterns improve learning, memory, creativity, and mood.
The benefits of good sleep
Healthy sleep also strengthens the immune system and makes it easier to maintain a healthy diet.
Sleep helps you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better.
Getting enough sleep has a lot of proven health benefits, including healthier circulatory and immune systems, better management of blood sugar and weight, improved memory, alertness, and problem-solving capabilities, and lower stress.
How to get enough good sleep?
To get enough good sleep, aim to establish a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
Create a relaxing bedtime routine and make sure your sleeping environment is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet.
5. Limit your alcohol intake
Drinking too much alcohol over time can take a serious toll on your health. It can lead to chronic diseases and other serious problems, including alcohol use disorder and problems with learning, memory, and mental health.
The effects of excessive alcohol consumption Other chronic health conditions linked to excessive alcohol use include high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
How to limit your alcohol intake
To limit your alcohol intake, aim to drink in moderation.
This means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
You can also try alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks or choosing lower-alcohol options.
6. Do not smoke
Smoking can cause long-term negative effects on the body, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Whether smoked or chewed, tobacco is dangerous to your health. Tobacco products contain unsafe substances, from acetone and tar to nicotine and carbon monoxide.
The effects of smoking
The inhaled substances can affect your lungs and the other organs in your body.
Smoking can lead to ongoing complications and long-term effects on your body systems.
While smoking can increase your risk of certain health conditions over years, like glaucoma, cancer, and issues with blood clotting, some of the bodily effects happen immediately.
How to quit smoking?
If you are a smoker and want to quit, there are many resources available to help you.
You can talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy or other medications that can help you quit smoking.
You can also join a support group or call a quitline for help and advice.
7. Protect yourself from the sun
Sun protection is essential to maintaining healthy skin and preventing skin damage and cancer.
While the sun provides many benefits, too much exposure can be harmful. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause damage to our skin, leading to premature aging, sunburn, and even skin cancer.
The effects of sun exposure
Nothing ages the skin faster than the sun, which is one of the primary reasons it’s so important to use daily sun protection.
What’s more, the sun’s UVA and UVB rays can lead to the development of skin diseases like melanoma and may worsen existing conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
How to protect yourself from the sun?
To protect yourself from the sun, aim to limit time in the sun, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
Wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats. Use broad spectrum sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher regularly and as directed.
Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, and more often if you’re sweating or jumping in and out of the water.
8. Wash your hands
Hand hygiene is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs and to prevent infections. This helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause colds, flu and other infections.
The benefits of hand hygiene
Hand hygiene can protect you and others from a range of infectious diseases. It can also help reduce the risk of developing antibiotic resistance by preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
How to wash your hands?
To wash your hands properly, wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap.
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap.
Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
9. Reduce intake of harmful fats
Consuming too much fat, especially the wrong types of fat, can have negative effects on your health. Saturated fat, found mainly in meat and dairy foods, contributes to clogged arteries and cardiovascular disease.
The effects of harmful fats Excessive consumption of fat is linked to a variety of health issues, including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal issues.
The worst type of dietary fat is the kind known as trans fat.
It is a byproduct of a process called hydrogenation that is used to turn healthy oils into solids and to prevent them from becoming rancid. Trans fats have no known health benefits and that there is no safe level of consumption.
How to reduce intake of harmful fats?
To reduce your intake of harmful fats, aim to consume less than 30% of your total energy intake from fats and prefer unsaturated fats over saturated fats and trans-fats.
You can also try choosing lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products, as well as incorporating more plant-based sources of protein into your diet.
10. Consume less salt and sugar
Consuming too much salt and sugar can have negative effects on your health.
Eating too much salt can lead to complications like increased thirst, higher blood pressure, bloating and poor sleep quality. Eating too much sugar can lead to higher amounts of “bad” cholesterol versus the “good” type.
Excess amounts of sugar in the bloodstream are converted to fat causing fat storage especially around the abdomen.
The effects of excessive salt and sugar consumption
Excessive consumption of salt can cause water retention, a temporary rise in blood pressure, excess thirst, and, in severe cases, hypernatremia. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and increased triglycerides.
How to consume less salt and sugar?
To consume less salt and sugar, aim to reduce your intake of processed foods, which are often high in both. Instead, choose whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
You can also try using herbs and spices to add flavor to your meals instead of salt.
In this article, we have discussed 10 simple habits that you can adopt for a healthier lifestyle. These habits include eating a balanced diet, staying well hydrated, exercising regularly, getting enough good sleep, limiting your alcohol intake, not smoking, protecting yourself from the sun, washing your hands, reducing your intake of harmful fats, and consuming less salt and sugar.
By incorporating these habits into your daily routine, you can improve your overall health and well-being. Remember that small changes can make a big difference over time. So start today and take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle.
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