To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. — Buddha
Ensure Life-Long Health with Good Habits
There will come a day when wearable computers will allow us to manage and track our biochemical makeup from moment to moment. These “devices” may even help to recommend what our body is lacking, what it’s receiving in an over-abundant amount, and quite possibly, what changes should be made for optimal health. However, that day isn’t here yet. And, until then, it’s important to insitute some health habits that will provide for longevity of life, the minimization of health risks, and the avoidance of diseases that could be onset by the abuse or lack of attention to our health and hygiene.
But, firstly, it’s important to note that I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a PhD, an MD, or a BS. I’m not a nutritionist, a physical therapist, or a personal trainer, but I do practice what I preach. I have been a long and firm believer in the promotion of positive habits in all areas of life, and if you follow along with some of these suggestions, you will most likely see some positive benefits yourself as well.
So, what are these positive habits for health, and how do we institute them?
The Best Health Habits
Some of the best health habits to institute don’t take a considerable amount of time or effort; they merely take an active awareness and daily action towards their implementation. But many of us tend to get sidetracked. We allow life to interrupt our routines and we forget to take care of ourselves. But health habits are just as important as financial habits, career habits, or any other habit. Caring for your health should be a priority, because without your health, you won’t be able to focus on your career, relationships, family, or anything else. So, health habits are incredibly important.
In a recent post that I published I spoke about the 101 best habits for a successful life. In that post I outlined how to develop habits and the best habits to have in every area of your life. But, in this post, I wanted to go into more detail about the health habits because they’re so integral to the optimal performance in anything that we do. Without health we can’t strive towards our daily goals, we can’t reach for our hopes and our dreams, and we can’t wake up with an unrelenting spirit to never give up as we push towards whatever we want, or break through some self-imposed limitations that held us back in the past.
Health Habits List
These health habits are the top habits that you can institute on a daily basis. There are, of course, other health habits that need to be practiced on a yearly basis as well. Some habits, like seeing the doctor and the dentist, don’t have to happen every single day of course, but they do need to happen. And, although some of these habits might seem very trivial to you, they are integral to your overall health and wellness. Below is a list of the top 10 daily health habits that you can develop. If you want to see the full list of success habits, please check out the post on 101 Successful Habits (And How to Form Them).
#1 – Eat Breakfast Every Day
Why? Well, you might have heard your mom or dad say this while growing up. But, many of us may have taken this all-important health habit for granted. In our busy and chaotic existences, breakfast sometimes takes a backseat in the car of our lives. We opt for things like sugary coffee drinks or a big lunch, all of which are detrimental to health.
According to a survey done by market research firm NPD Group, 18 percent of males and 13 percent of females that are in the ages between 35 and 54 will tend to skip breakfast. These “breakfast skippers,” lose out on all the important health benefits that are associated with the habit of eating breakfast every day.
According to a July 2013 study by the Journal Circulation, skipping breakfast can increase a woman’s risk for diabetes. Women who didn’t eat breakfast every day of the week were at a higher risk of developing Type II Diabetes than those women who ate breakfast every single day. The habit of skipping breakfast also affects the potential for heart disease in men, according to the same study that found a lower incidence in hypertension, elevated blood sugar, and insulin resistance in men aged 45 to 82 that ate breakfast every single day.
#2 – Eat One Apple Every Day
Why? You’ve heard this before in the past. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” So is it really true? Yes, this is a critical health habit to develop. Not only do apples contain soluble fiber, which has been shown to reduce things like intestinal disorders, but it also helps to control daily insulin levels by releasing sugars slowly into the system. Other studies have shown apples to reduce skin diseases, cleanse and detoxify the blood, reduce cholesterol levels, decrease mucous, lubricate the lungs, and control hunger.
There are tremendous benefits associated to developing the healthy habit of eating at least one apple per day. For example, several studies conducted have shown that not only will eating apples reduce the chance of Parkinson’s disease, but it will also help to avoid Alzheimer’s Disease and curb the chance for getting cancer. The natural fibers and antioxidant properties of apples make it enormously beneficial as one of the leading healthy foods. Make sure that you’re eating an apple every single day, because it’s been most certainly proven that it will keep the doctor away.
#3 – Get a Good Night’s Rest
Why? One of the best healthy habits that you can have is to ensure you get a good night’s rest. When there’s a lack of slumber in your life it not only throws off your biorhythm, but studies have also found that a lack of sleep can lead to an increase in diseases such as heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain.
The habit of getting a good night’s sleep doesn’t mean that you have to sleep 10 hours a night. However, getting 6 to 8 hours of solid shuteye is an imperative health habit to develop early on. That added sleep can also do things like boost your sex life, lead to less chronic pain, and lower the risks associated with common injuries. Develop this health habit from early on and your body will thank you.
#4 – Use Sunblock
Why? Harmful exposure to the sun not only causes us to age too quickly, but it can also result in long-term health-related issues such as skin cancer. When you use sunblock or sun protection, you’re blocking the sun’s harmful rays. SPF, which stands for Sun Protection Factor, is the indicator that tells us just how much of the sun’s rays are being blocked out. An SPF of 15 or higher should always be used no matter if you’re a man, woman, or child.
Get into the health habit of applying sunblock whenever you’re out in the sun. And, if you don’t think you’ll get enough Vitamin D, all a person needs is 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to the sun twice per week to get their daily allotment of 600 IU or 15mcg of Vitamin D. Additionally, consumption of milk, eggs, fish, or other Vitamin-D-rich foods will provide more than enough of the required supplement. This habit is simple and easy and can not only protect your skin from signs of aging, but it can also prolong your life.
#5 – Floss & Brush Daily
Why? Flossing and brushing daily might seem mundane, but it’s a very important health habit to have. When you don’t floss and brush daily, you can cause bacteria to build up on and between teeth. The excess build-up of that bacteria can enter the bloodstream where it can do the most harm. This build-up of bacteria can lead to things like heart disease, diabetes, erectile dysfunction in males, and more health hazards.
With the onset of gum disease, the inhibition of the production of nitric oxide, which limits blood-flow to the penis, can cause problems not only in men, but also in conception for women as well. Australian researchers found that women with gum disease were likely to conceive 2 months later than women without it. Make sure that you develop the health habit of brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing at least once.
#6 – Drink Plenty of Water
Why? Drinking enough water is integral to health. Water is a building-block of life and our bodies are comprised of approximately 60% of H2O. But, many people don’t get enough water in their diets. If you’re a male, this health habit means that you should be drinking approximately 3 liters of water per day (or roughly 13 cups). If you’re a female, this health habit means you should be consuming approximately 2.2 liter of water per day (or roughly 9 cups).
Drinking water should be habitual in nature, and the health benefits are enormous. Water not only helps to flush out toxins from your system, but it also helps to promote weight loss by flushing out the by-products of fat in the system and reducing hunger by naturally suppressing the appetite. It also boosts immune system functionality, increases energy levels, naturally cures headaches, elevates mood levels, and so on. Get into the habit of drinking plenty of water every single day and your body will thank you.
#7 – Eat Green Vegetables
Why? Leafy greens or vegetables contain a high-dosage of phytochemicals, which aid in the fight of diseases. These are chemical compounds that tend to occur naturally in plants. For example, you might have already heard of one type of phytochemical, which is called antioxidants. Studies have shown that these phytochemicals can potentially ward off things like cancer, strokes, and metabolic syndrome.
This is certainly one health habit that you should create and stick to if you’re not already doing so. But, how many green vegetables are necessary to eat on a daily basis? Well, you should be eating 2 and 1/2 cups of green vegetables daily. These foods are also rich in fiber, which will help to ward off hunger, fight against the risk of diabetes, and provide you with so many more health benefits. This habit should become ingrained in you; habitual in nature; instinctive.
#8 – Avoid Cigarette Smoke
Why? This doesn’t just mean to avoid smoking cigarettes yourself, which should be a no-brainer to you in today’s day-and-age, but it also means avoiding second-hand smoke. Smoking harms nearly every organ in your body and causes many diseases, lowering your overall health, according to the CDC. It’s also the leading preventable cause death in the United States.
Did you know that cigarette smoking has caused more deaths in a year than HIV, Illegal drug use, alcohol use, car accidents, and firearm-related incidents all combined into one? Stay away from cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke and keep your family away as well. Make this a health habit that you adopt early on and if there’s a smoker in your family, persuade them to quit immediately.
#9 – Walk 10,000 Steps Daily
Why? Forget about counting carbs or calories, and achieve life-long health by walking 10,000 steps each day. Most average adults in the US don’t walk much. In fact, according to findings that were published in the October issue of Magazine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Americans, on average, took just 5,117 steps per day. This was compared to the Japanese, who took 7,168 steps on average per day, Switzerland, who’s citizens took an average of 9,650 steps per day, and Australians at 9,695 steps per day.
So, why is this such an important health habit? Well, we don’t realize just how beneficial walking is. In fact, it can help not only with weight loss, but it can also help to improve cholesterol, blood pressure, and help in so many other health-related areas. You don’t have to run a marathon every single day; all you have to do is make it a health habit to walk at least 10,000 steps. Institute this health habit by downloading a pedometer app for your smartphone and tracking your daily steps. Start small and work your way up, but always ensure you hit or exceed 10,000 steps every single day.
#10 – Eat Fiber Daily
One of the most important dietary supplements that we can consume are fibers. Fibers are an excellent way of slowing down your body’s breakdown of carbohydrates and its absorption of sugar. This can assist with helping to regulate sugar levels. It has also been found that there is an indirect relationship between amount of fiber consumed and risk of heart attack. Studies have found that people who eat a diet rich in fiber are 40% less likely to get heart disease. Researchers have also come to the conclusion that for each additional 7 grams of fiber consumed that there is a 7 times less likelihood of stroke.
So, this is an all-important health habit to institute. But, where do we get our fiber from? Well, oatmeal is one excellent source. Another would be through beans or whole grains, along with brown rice. You can also opt for bran cereal, nuts, or berries. Make it a habit to consume at least 25 grams per day for women, and 38 grams per day for men.