Here's a list of 13 things you can do, starting today to improve your life.
These habits are from www.webmd.com, an established and reputable source for health advice on the internet. Follow them and you'll feel better, be in better shape and have a more positive outlook on life.
Habit 1: Eat Breakfast Every Morning
Research shows that breakfast eaters tend to take in more vitamins and minerals and less fat and cholesterol. This results in a leaner body, lower cholesterol count and considerably reduces the chances of overeating.
Eating breakfast can help hold off your hunger till lunchtime so you won't be tempted to hit the vending machine.
Breakfast appears to enhance alertness, attention and performance on the job.
If you don't have time to eat breakfast at home in the morning - take it with you, you won't regret it!
Habit 2: Include Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet
On top of being a great source of protein, fish which contains omega-3 fatty acids, has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease.
New studies are finding that there might even be a link between getting more omega-3 in your diet and reducing allergies, asthma, eczema and autoimmune disorders.
What's the best fish to eat? Go for fatty fish like mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon.
Habit 3: Get Enough Sleep
This one's easy to do and will have a big impact on the quality of your life.
It's common sense that when we don't get enough sleep, we're tired, cranky and more prone to accidents and mistakes. However, many of us still don't get enough sleep.
Everyone is different so there is no perfect amount that applies to all people however research shows that 7 -10 hours per night is what we should aim for.
I know from experience that a good night's sleep has a direct impact on my outlook towards life. Futhermore, not getting enough sleep for long periods of time can lead to depression, poor eating habits, and even fatal accidents. Just to give you an idea, each year drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 car accidents, 1,500 deaths and tens of thousands of injuries in the US alone (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
To accomplish this goal if you're having trouble, do it gradually by going to bed a half hour earlier each night. Do this for 21 days and then increase it to an hour. You should notice the positive effects soon after you make this a habit.
Habit 4: Make Social Connections
Humans are social beings, we need to feel connected to each other and have a social network. Studies have proven that social activities and networks (friends, family, social clubs, etc) have a positive impact on your physical and mental health.
Think about it, a close friend can cheer you up and help you with problems that alone would seem daunting. A family member can give you the support you need to succeed and get ahead in life. Being part of a club will give you a sense of belonging where you can share in the accomplishments of the organization while feeling proud for having done your part.
On a more technical side, group activities help keep the mind active and maintain desireable levels of serotonin - the brain chemical associated with mood. Lack of group or social activity causes the levels of serotonin to decrease leaving you open to anxiety and depression.
So get out there and make new friends and reconnect with relatives and old friends you've lost touch with!
Habit 5: Exercise
I won't go on and on about why you need to exercise and what it can do for you, but here's a short list to get you going:
- Helps control weight
- Maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints
- Reduces risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes
- Makes you feel better mentally and physically
- Reduces your risk of death from heart disease
- You'll look better physically and be more confident and emotionally stable
I know from experience that exercising will help you to think and move better, manage stress, improve your mood and get an energy boost. Boosting energy is ironic because most of us complain that we're too tired to exercise however once you get going you'll have more energy than before you started! You'll be a happier, livelier and more productive person!
I know that it can be hard to exercise when you're tired or uninspired - the trick to get moving is to do something you enjoy so that you'll exercise but not see it as a chore. See my previous post on biking to work as an example of this.Habit 6: Take Care of Your Teeth - Brush and Floss
This one was an eye opener for me. It seems that poor oral hygiene can take years off your life! Here's why:
Teeth have a blood supply and that blood comes directly from the heart. Researchers suspect that the bacteria that produce dental plaque enter the bloodstream. These bacteria are somehow associated with the inflammation that occurs with plaque that blocks blood vessels and causes heart disease.
Not only that, your teeth help you chew, and speak properly and smile. Chewing properly helps control your weight and energy level since you're stomach will have an easier time digesting smaller bit of food. Speaking properly and smiling will definitely help you maintain your confidence and improve the quality of your life.Habit 7: Find a Hobby
The joy and relaxation gained from having a hobby will help you live a happier and healthier life. You'll even recover better and faster from colds and more serious illnesses. Plus you'll burn more calories than just sitting in front of the TV!
If that's not enough to convince you, studies show that people with hobbies, tend to have more drive and interest in things and other people. They are more interested and involved in life and seem to have more things to look forward to.Habit 8: Protect Your Skin
The sun can be great for our skin and out moods, but overexposing ourselves to it is just plain asking for trouble.
If you want to protect your skin and look younger (Just think of those compulsive sunbathers), follow these tips:
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher
- Wear a hat with a rim and other protective clothing
- Don't deliberately sunbathe - vanity will kill you
- Try to avoid sun exposure between 10am and 3pm
All that said, you shouldn't hide from the sun since as I've noted above it can do wonders for your mood. Just use common sense because as the saying goes, too much of anything is not good.Habit 9: Snack the Healthy Way
We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us but did you know that these plant foods can:
- Reduce the risk of some cancers
- Beat the signs of aging
- Improve memory
- Promote heart health
- Enhance the immune system
They make the ideal snack since they are so convinient - no cooking or perparation, just bite, chew and swallow!Habit 10: Drink Water
Water is essential to good health. Your body needs it to keep properly hydrated, joints need it to stay in motion, and vital organs like your heart, brain, kidney and liver need it to work properly.
Here's the kicker: If you don't get enough water, your body goes into emergency mode and clings to every single water molecule it can find. What does this mean? The stored molecules appear as extra weight and the weight is only released once the body gets enough water. Also drinking more water can help reduce hunger which in turn will help you control your weight better.
I've also noticed that dehydration causes similar symptoms as sleep deprivation like fatigue, moodiness, difficulty to concentrate and think clearly.
So this one's a no brainer - drink water to feel and look better!Habit 11: Drink Tea
We keep hearing about how tea, especially green tea has so many antioxidants that help fight cancer and the aging effects. Numerous studies have been done to monitor the benefits and they just seem to be finding more and more of them.
Here are a few:
- Improve memory
- Prevent cavities
- Fight cancer
- Combat the effects of aging
- Prevent heart disease
- It's calming and relaxing
I recommend drinking organic green teas because there's less chance of chemical contamination that could counter the good effects of the antioxidants. Also avoid using sugar or artificial sweetners - try honey instead.Habit 12: Take a Daily Walk
Here's an easy way to get some exercise in your life without a lot of effort - take a daily walk.
People that walk often tend to lead longer healthier lives:
Walk whenever you can. For instance if you take the bus get off a few stops before yours and walk it, or if you drive, park further away and walk to your destination and back. The idea is to move more during the day. Need motivation? It takes only 20 steps to burn 1 calorie!
Here are some other ways to walk more:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator/escalator
- Walk to the store
- Window shop at the mall
- Get up from your desk and visit your coworker instead of sending an email or instant message
- Go for a walk with friends and talk instead of meeting for a meal - You won't even notice that you're actually doing some exercise
On the more extreme side you can take part in a pilgrimage such as the Camino de Santiago in the north of Spain. People from all over the world participate and walk for hundreds and some even thousands of kilometers. I did this walk myself and after only 3 days of walking an average of 25km per day I started to develop a six pack! I had no idea you could get abs so quickly just from walking! Try it for yourself!Habit 13: Plan"If you fail to plan you plan to fail!"
Many of the above habits require some planning to be able to fit them into our busy lives. If you don't sit down and think about how you will go about making changes, then chances are they will never happen.
Think about it like a business - most start from an idea, but without some planning they would have never gotten off the ground and succeeded. The habits I've just talked about are just ideas and dreams. They will only become a reality and lead you to success if you take the time to plan how you can put them into practice in a way that makes sense for you. Remember we are all different with different schedules, demands on our time, etc, so given that there are many ways to reach the same goal you have to choose the one that works best for you. Planning will help you do that.Here's a recap of the 13 healthy habits again:
I hope you find these habits as useful as I have in making a positive change in your life. I wish you all the best and would like to hear how you're doing with these habits so don't be shy to leave a comment!
- Eat Breakfast Every Morning
- Include Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet
- Get Enough Sleep
- Make Social Connections
- Take Care of Your Teeth - Brush and Floss
- Find a Hobby
- Protect Your Skin
- Snack the Healthy Way
- Drink Water
- Drink Tea
- Take a Daily Walk