He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.
— Benjamin Franklin
Who are the Healthy People?
Health fanatics! You can spot them almost anywhere because some of their 20 habits of healthy people are not the norm for most Americans who are overweight and undernourished. Some habits of these health enthusiasts might be:
- Rarely touching dessert or fried chicken, or
- Going to the gym every day, or
- Eating their favorite lunch – a whole grain bread sandwich with sprouts and a wheatgrass juice chaser, or
- Not engaging in unhealthy behaviors like smoking or excessive drinking.
And what you may not see is that they also:
- Never miss a checkup or an appointment with the healthcare producers,
- Stay up to date with all the latest medical news, and
- Take great care to follow their doctor’s orders.
But are they really fanatics? No! They are people who live by a health code that includes regular exercise and a healthy diet. Their lifestyle includes good relationships, meditation, and time for self, among other health-promoting activities. And they do most of the 20 habits of healthy people you will see in this article. You might do well to copy them.
”But I’m too busy,” you might be thinking. But guess what? So are they. Yet, they still make time in their lives for the 20 habits of healthy people. And, well … they have more health, vitality, happiness, and success.
What sets health devotees apart?
Taking care of themselves is their highest priority. Health devotees take their health seriously; it’s ingrained in them, and it’s a huge part of who they are. Healthy people live by the code of self-care. Further, they are rarely tempted by the indulgences some of us take part in every day.
Good health really does come down to self-care
that is at the core of all health conscious people,
it is what drives and motivates their behavior.
They care about their health and their wellbeing.
Living a healthy life is the core of their inner being.
Many have had this attitude their whole lives. For some, it all began in childhood with parents who role modeled positive health habits. But, in reality, anyone can adopt this attitude, even if it is not something you learned while growing up. So why not make an effort to adopt at least some of these 20 habits of healthy people?
Good self-care can be learned and adopted at any age. There’s no magic formula to living your healthiest life, but these 20 habits that healthy people have in common are a great place to start. It can change your life.
20 Habits of Healthy People
Habit #1: Look on the bright side
Be optimistic! Don’t waste time and energy complaining. If you think you need to make a change in your life, then do it! A positive mental attitude goes a long way toward promoting other healthy behaviors in your life. It especially reduces stress in your life.
Habit #2: Exercise – It’s not an option
“Exercising just 30 minutes a day is the single greatest thing you can do for overall health,” says Alex Caspero M.A., R.D.
Healthy people exercise regularly – and believe it or not, they love it.
You’ve probably heard about the “runner’s high.” Running, cycling, swimming, and other strenuous, marathon-related exercises do produce a short-term sense of euphoria. But do you have to work that hard to get a high. No, you don’t, says Cedric Bryant, Ph.D. “The key is being active for 30 minutes or more at a moderate intensity level to see some of these beneficial psychological outcomes.”* More importantly, regular exercise offers long-term benefits, on both the mind and the body. You don’t have to push your limits to reap a reward.
So don’t wonder whether or not you should go to the gym. Just go! Once there, workout with gusto. Some people love it, and some do it simply because it is necessary for good health, a great body, disease prevention, and overall well-being.
Train outside the gym, too!
Habit #3: Keep moving
Dick Van Dyke wrote a book by that title: Keep Moving: And Other Tips and Truths About Aging. At age 90, he still dances like a 20-year-old. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all do that? Well, most of us can with a little effort.
Start your day moving with gentle stretching. If you have a dog or a cat, have you ever noticed the way it starts its day? My dog, Kiba, stretches each leg, splays his toes on each paw, and arches his back. He rolls around on my bed and continues to flex his muscles. Kiba always starts his day this way. Animals know instinctively that stretching is healthy.
- Warms up the body and alleviates joint discomfort.
- Increases blood flow to all parts of the body – including the brain, which increases concentration and sharpens senses.
- Helps support your energy throughout the entire day.
- Prevents lethargy and feelings of tiredness.
Keep moving, whatever you’re doing around the home. Whether around the house, in the yard, or just taking a stroll, any activity can become health-giving. Just move efficiently, but don’t rush. Be conscious of your breathing and the way you’re moving. You will become stronger, which will help prevent injuries and falls.
Move throughout the day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk outside. Use a pedometer to track your daily steps. When I first started using my Fitbit, I found I was walking less than 1,000 steps a day. Pitiful! Now, I’m up to 4,000 steps daily and hope to be at 5,000 soon. Being aware of what you are doing can make all the difference. It can encourage you to move more, as it did for me. And you’ll feel so much better. I know I do.
Habit #4: Just say “No”
Many people say “yes” to all requests. They just don’t know how to say “no.” Saying “no” is an important part of respecting yourself. Healthy people are attuned to their own needs, and you should be, too. You never, never need to justify a “no” answer. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time for YOU!
You instinctively know when you’ve reached your limit. Learn to listen to your body. If you do, you will learn a lot about your health and your needs.
Habit #5: Moderation
Healthy people understand moderation. They don’t eat whole bags of chips, and they do not regularly eat junk food or unhealthy sweets. They have accepted that these foods are not conducive to their health and they are simply not a regular diet choice.
Healthy people enjoy an occasional indulgence, but, instead of eating a whole slice of cake, they eat one or two bites. Some may occasionally order French fries, but it is only on a rare occasion.
They pay attention to portion sizes and avoid mindless eating that can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Eating right isn’t just about what you eat; it’s also about how much you eat. Eat mindfully and listen to your body. It will let you know when it’s had enough to eat to nourish you. Try to fill your typical diet with healthy whole foods that support your health, improve your energy levels and prevent chronic disease.
Habit #6: Eat healthy foods
Eat by color! Five servings of vegetables and fruits are ideal, but some research suggests seven is better. If your diet is not colorful, start by changing your eating habits. Go green! Then add in yellow, orange, etc. until you are literally eating a rainbow of colors. Over time, you’ll have better cognitive skills and more energy and vitality.
Plan ahead! Prepare meals ahead of time and freeze for later use. Cut up veggies as snacks. That way, when you’re on the go, you will have healthy foods ready to stick in the microwave or ready to grab and go.
Habit #7: Have sex
Ah, sex! It’s fun, even in your golden years. Or perhaps I should say especially in your golden years. Here’s why:
- Humans are sexual beings. Healthy, safe sex is an appropriate and vital part of our lives. It improves the connection with your partner.
- You sleep better and don’t have to fight insomnia because arousal and orgasm release hormones that help reduce stress, fear, and anxiety.
- You can look as much as 10 years younger because when you’re having sex, you pay more attention to your appearance, diet, and exercise.
- For older women, sex increases the blood flow to the vagina, which helps improve lubrication and elasticity of the tissues.
- For older men, sex helps “clean the pipes,” so to speak, so you have less of a chance for developing prostate cancer.
- Sex helps relieve migraine pain, arthritic pain, and other pains. Why? The increased flow of endorphins through our bodies makes us feel better, emotionally and physically.
- You’re happier and feel better overall, says sociologist Tim Wadsworth at the University of Colorado Boulder. Those having sex two to three times a week were 33 percent happier than those who’d had no sex in the past year.
Habit #8: Drink lots of water
Water is crucial to your health. We all know we should drink more water. Healthy people actually do. It’s best to drink 8 glasses a day (about 2 quarts or 2 liters), but you should at least drink 6 glasses of water daily.
And don’t wait until you feel thirsty – drink water on a regular schedule. That’s what I have to do to ensure I drink enough water because I rarely feel thirsty.
Dehydration can have serious health consequences. It can also cause you to have dry skin, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion, and an increased heart rate and breathing.
Habit #9: Learn something new
“Use it or lose it.” I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, but it was most likely linked to exercise. Well, what’s true for body fitness is also true for brain fitness.
Although it isn’t a muscle, it behaves like one. So like the body, it needs continuous workouts to keep it in the best shape. Further, doing challenging mental activities can slow down the brain’s rate of aging. What’s more, a younger brain helps you live a higher quality lifestyle.
Here are a few activities that will sharpen your brain power:
- Learn a foreign language
- Solve or riddle or a puzzle
- Learn a new musical instrument
- Learn to draw, knit, or paint
- Memorize a daily list – can you recall all or most of the items later in the day?
- Learn a new recipe or take a cooking class.
And I’m sure you can think of plenty of other activities not mentioned above.
You can try a new skill on your own or call your local senior center and community center to find out what activities they offer. Also, check for any courses that might be offered through colleges or high schools.
Habit #10: Practice mindfulness meditation
Just 10 minutes a day spent in mindfulness meditation can lower blood pressure naturally. And just 25 minutes a day can help you handle stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain better, says Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter at Harvard Medical School.
Other studies have also found that even brief mindfulness meditation not only buffers stress, but also increases your ability to cope with stressful situations. Indeed, researchers at Johns Hopkins University sifted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies and found 47 well-designed trials that addressed stressors and cortisol reactivity to social evaluative stress. These studies indicate that even brief mindfulness meditation fosters greater coping efforts when dealing with stress.
Want to give it a try? You can do so for free. Just go to http://www.mindfulness-solution.com/DownloadMeditations.html and select one of Dr. Siegel’s guided recordings. He is an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.
Habit #11: Do yoga
Yoga, like mindfulness meditation, can lower blood pressure, increase strength and flexibility, protect your joints, increase balance, and improve posture. It can even treat mild anxiety and depression.
AARP’s healthy living section shows poses by age group (60s, 70s and beyond). AARP also provides a free video on Restorative Yoga, which uses props — blankets, blocks, straps, and pillows — to support the body in long, gentle poses. This is great for older folks of if you’re just plain out of shape.
Give it a try!
Habit #12: Set priorities
Health conscious people know how to set priorities. They don’t look for excuses to skip a workout. Instead, they make those workouts a priority, even if that means skipping an evening out or postponing some other activity that interferes. Exercise always takes precedence on their daily schedules.
That doesn’t mean that health-conscious folks don’t value family, friends, and work. But they understand that their health is a gift and should be one of the most important priorities in their lives.
They choose to be healthy – and you should, too, if your health is important to you.
Habit #13: Set goals
Healthy people set goals that they wish to achieve. Whether it is to maintain a specific weight, or to lift a certain weight, or to improve some aspect of their fitness and health level, they set goals and plan what needs to be done to achieve them.
Why not set your own health goals now! Choose from some of the 20 habits of health people that you think you are most likely to do.
Habit #14: Make time for relaxation
Healthy people set aside time for relaxation and plan activities that help them to de-stress. They understand that self-care is not only about the things you do, but also about things you don’t do. Too much work, the hustle and bustle of life and everyday tension that results from a busy lifestyle must be counteracted with enough relaxation so that stress does not impact your good health.
Healthy people understand that relaxation is a reset button and they take the time to push that button regularly. So relax, and push your own reset button.
Habit #15: Stay in touch with your body
Healthy people are in touch with their bodies. They pay attention to what their body, their mind, and their soul needs as they strive for optimal health and wellness.
“But how can I tell when my body’s talking to me?” you might be thinking. It speaks no words. You listen by being quiet, being sensitive to yourself and your feelings – emotions and pain.
Your body sends you messages all the time, but you may not act upon them. We in effect are shutting down the signals our body sends. Deepak Chopra offers some basic suggestions on how to listen to your body:
- Feel what you feel. Don’t talk yourself into denial.
- Accept what you feel. Don’t judge what’s actually there.
- Be open to your body. It’s always speaking. Be willing to listen.
- Trust your body. Every cell is on your side, which means you have hundreds of billions of allies.
- Value spontaneity. Emotions change, cells change, the brain changes. Don’t be the policeman who stops the river of change by blocking it with frozen, fixed beliefs.
- Enjoy what your body wants to do. Bodies like to rest, but they also like to be active. Bodies like different kinds of food that are eaten with enjoyment. Bodies like sex and pleasure in general.
Read more on Oprah.com.
Habit #16: Keep good social relationships
Healthy people strive for healthy social interactions and interpersonal relationships. They know that their emotional state and overall fulfillment plays a crucial role in their health.
It’s important to surround yourself with positive people who share their commitment to a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Let your friends’ good habits rub off on you. People who inspire you will also help you live your best life.
Habit #17: Practice emotional mindfulness
Healthy people know that a thought is just a thought, and a feeling is just a feeling—these things come and go and don’t define you as a person. It’s easy to get carried away with anger or frustration, but healthy people know how to step back and merely observe their feelings without giving them power over their lives.
Understand that even when you can’t control how you feel, you can always control how you react to that feeling.
Habit #17: Treat others with love, kindness, and respect
Healthy people live by the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat others the way you want them to treat you.
Cultivate a habit of kindness and respect. You will not only feel good about yourself, but you will also build strong relationships with others. Don’t underestimate the power of a kind word or a thoughtful gesture. Small acts of love can change your life—and it can improve the lives of others, too.
Habit #18: Sleep
According to the book Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation, A big part of self-care is getting enough sleep every single night. Health-conscious people strive to do so because it helps them to be healthier and function at their very best throughout the day. When sleep deprived, you are less productive, have more health issues, and are more likely to have an accident (such as falling).
Usually, 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is just about right. However, some people do well on only 6 hours a night. The number of hours isn’t as important as how you feel during the day. Know your body. Listen to it. It will tell you whether or not you’re sleeping enough.
Habit #19: No addictions
Healthy people don’t engage in addictive behaviors, including, smoking, illicit drugs, and excessive alcohol use. I think this topic needs no elaboration, as most of us know additive behaviors are harmful to our health.
Habit #20: Preventative care
Healthy people get regular preventative health screenings, as well as, preventative care. They visit their doctor and get tests like those for cholesterol, blood pressure, and diabetes.
They get regular physicals, mammograms, testicular exams and pap smears to ensure there are no issues that need their immediate attention.
They also engage in regular preventative care, like visiting the dentist for cleanings and eye care specialists for eye exams.
Please visit your healthcare providers regularly so they can help you stay healthy from your head to your toes.
How About You?
Implement these 20 habits of health people into your life, and you too can become more healthy and fit!
Let me hear from you. Which of these habits are you doing to improve your life?
*SOURCES: Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., chief science officer, American Council on Exercise, San Diego. Rick Hall, MS, RD, advisory board member, Arizona Governor’s Council on Health, Physical Fitness, and Sports; professor of nutrition, Arizona State University. Jesse Pittsley, Ph.D., president, American Society for Exercise Physiologists, Winston-Salem, N.C.- as told to WebMD.