20 good habits that can help you stay healthy

20 good habits that can help you stay healthy

A habit is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a “usual way of behaving: something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.” The key word in this definition is “repeated”.

Indeed, whatever activities you do to maintain your health, it is only through repetition that you will achieve your goals. Running a half-marathon once a year will at best provide you with a boost of endorphins or at worst, an injury. On the other hand, 30 minutes of walking or jogging several times a week, year-round, will do miracles for your quality of life and health.

Here are 20 healthy daily habits that can help you improve your physical and mental well-being. Ideally, pick one and then wait until it is fully integrated into your daily routine before selecting another!

Moving:

Walking
Whenever you can. To go to the grocery store or the office, to get some fresh air during your lunch break or to sightsee while in a new city. Walk. The minimum number of steps you should be taking every day is 10,000. It might seem like a lot, but every minute counts and gets you closer to your goal. Think of it as a game!

Stand up on a regular basis
In North America, prolonged inactivity is a problem that’s as prevalent as a general lack of exercise. Staying seated during hours at a time compromises the body’s ability to consume fats and sugars, which can lead to several health problems. Thankfully, there is a simple solution: stand up as often as possible. Head to your colleague’s office, stand up when you’re on the phone, or use the stairs. Every reason is a good one to get active every day!

Play outside
Getting some fresh air every day is one of the easiest and most pleasant ways of improving your health. Recent studies have even shown the significant health benefits of natural daylight. [1] Furthermore, spending time outside is a good way to manage your stress.

Straighten your posture
You should set regular reminders (alarms or notes) to straighten your posture! Bring your neck and hips into a neutral position, then pull your shoulder blades back and stick your chest out. A good posture helps every muscle work in an optimal way and reduces pressure on your joints. In the long run, you’ll reduce your risk of getting back aches and in the short run, you’ll feel more confident, energized, and you’ll be able to breathe better.

Use your muscles
Whether to counter muscle loss associated with aging, to prevent osteoporosis[4] or back aches, or to simply make any activity easier, it’s in your best interest to use your muscles as often as possible. Take the stairs, go on a hike, do some push ups, sign up for a yoga class. These are only a few ways of exercising your muscles every day.

Stretch
You don’t have to stretch for an hour, you can simply improve your flexibility by moving your body in different ways a few minutes every day. By adding a few stretches to your daily routine, you’ll increase your joint flexibility, which will reduce your risk of injury. Moreover, you’ll get an instant boost of energy due to the influx of oxygenated blood sent to your muscles and brain.

Move with your friends
This is a two-in-one: it’s fun and motivating! In fact, motivating others is one of the easiest ways to keep yourself motivated. And by exercising with your friends, you’ll associate being active with fun and you’ll want to do it regularly!

Food:

Eat in good company
Set your screens aside and spend some time connecting with real humans. Not only is a conversation a great way to reinforce your social bonds, it’ll make you eat more slowly. You’ll set your fork down when you feel full, but not too full.

Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
Many of us know this tip, but few of us follow it. When you plan your menu, add lots of salads, stews, soups, raw vegetables, gratins, purees, sautés, fresh fruit, smoothies, and compotes. Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients, low in calories, and affordable. The ideal ingredients to a healthy diet!

Pay attention to when you feel hungry and full
How much should you eat every day? The answer to this question can vary greatly and depends on your weight, gender, age, and physical activity level. That being said, a good way to ensure you’re eating enough is to pay attention to your hunger signals. When your stomach growls, eat. When you feel full, stop. Even if your plate isn’t empty. Even if someone offers you second helpings.

Add variety to your diet
By adding variety to your menu, you’ll ensure you are getting a range of unique benefits from a wide selection of ingredients. For instance, instead of your regular morning toast, try an overnight oatmeal or add differently coloured vegetables to your shopping cart.

Breakfast > lunch > dinner
Because you need to focus and stay energized during the daytime, you should eat a filling breakfast, a medium-sized lunch, and a light dinner. You’ll go to bed feeling more comfortable and you’ll wake up feeling peckish. Which is what you need to start all over again!

Drink water
Water is essential for staying hydrated and avoiding headaches, fatigue, and problems focusing. Keep a reusable water bottle on hand and always place it in sight to remind you to drink regularly. Tea, herbal tea, and unsweetened coffee are also good options.

Pack your lunch
Preparing your own lunch and snacks for the office, school, or travels is a good way to eat on the go. Not only will you save money, you’ll avoid excess sodium, sugar, fat, and chemical preservatives in meals at fast food restaurants.

Take the time to cook
By cooking, we mean taking some time during the week to prepare a few simple, tasty dishes that will save you time on busy days. It only takes two hours to cook 12 muffins, slice a melon and vegetables, marinate tofu, and cook quinoa.

Well-being:

Disconnect
Putting away your smartphone might seem like an enormous challenge. But being connected 24/7 can have negative side effects on your memory[5], creativity, and productivity[6]. Disconnect at least one hour every day and give your brain a well-deserved break!

Breathe
Take some time to take deep breaths. With everything that’s going on around you, you might only be taking short, shallow breaths. Spending a few moments breathing deeply can calm your mind and provide physical benefits, such as lowering your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also help you manage your stress.

Enjoy a micro-vacation
Every day? If you can! It only takes half an hour. A micro-vacation simply means a moment in your day when you can rest and relax. Lie back and stare off into the distance. Let your brain wander. You’ll be surprised at how beneficial this can be for your creativity and energy levels!

Sleep
Sleep, just like exercise and a healthy diet, is one of the pillars of good health. Getting enough sleep (between 7 and 8 hours every night) on a regular basis will have a positive effect on your mood, memory, longevity, as well as your cognitive and physical performance.

Smile
This is an easy habit to adopt and will greatly impact your mood. Simply raising the corners of your mouth produces endorphins, providing instant happiness!

In conclusion, one of the advantages of adopting healthy lifestyle habits is that it’s possible to maintain them forever. This isn’t always possible with extreme solutions that often turn into a fad. By focusing on healthy lifestyle habits, you’ll ensure your success is long-lasting!