Your health should be your number one priority, and it can be hard to improve your health when you’re busy with work and other activities. However, if you want to stay healthy and active as you get older, you’ll need to make some changes in your lifestyle. From getting enough sleep to exercising regularly, there are many ways to improve your health, so try incorporating the following 10 lifestyle changes into your life today!
1) Eat more fruits and vegetables
The average adult needs around 2.5 cups of fruit and 2.9 cups of vegetables each day. If you don’t currently eat enough produce, try adding one serving at a time to see how it affects your health. Fruits and veggies are low in calories but high in nutritional value, so eating more will help keep you satisfied longer with fewer total calories for weight loss or maintenance.
2) Listen to your body when exercising
Before starting any new exercise routine, spend some time really listening to your body. The importance of movement cannot be understated—studies show that just 2 1/2 hours per week of moderate-intensity exercise can extend your life span by three years. But too much activity can also be detrimental; while there’s no such thing as being too active, you have to find a balance between movement and recovery time.
3) Drink water instead of sugar drinks
The majority of Americans—about 75 percent—are chronically dehydrated, thanks to their consumption of sugar-filled drinks. Instead of reaching for another soda or sweetened iced tea, fill up your water bottle with tap water. The flavor will be even better if you’ve added fresh lemon or lime slices.
4) Limit processed foods
Processed foods are usually high in trans fats, sodium, sugar, and preservatives. Try to avoid processed foods as much as possible because they can contribute to chronic health problems such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other lifestyle-related diseases. Instead of processed snacks like chips or crackers, munch on fruits or veggies like carrots or cucumbers. They’re high in vitamins and minerals with low calories!
5) Sleep 7–8 hours each night
Too little sleep can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, hypertension, obesity, and stroke. It can also impair judgment and slow decision-making. You’re also more likely to catch colds or get flu when you don’t get enough rest. Aim to get 7–8 hours of sleep each night—research suggests that we need 7.5 hours.
6) Manage stress
Stress has been linked to many of our most common health problems, including high blood pressure, weight gain, anxiety, headaches and chronic pain. Managing stress is therefore critical to staying healthy. Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and eating healthfully can all help reduce stress in your life. To further help you relax after a long day, consider taking up meditation or yoga. These activities are effective ways to de-stress your body and mind.
7) Exercise 30 minutes every day
A healthy diet is important, but you’ll need to exercise regularly if you want to have energy. Staying active helps keep your blood pressure low, preventing high blood pressure from getting worse over time. Exercise also helps control cholesterol levels that can cause heart disease. Regular exercise will make it easier to be active in other areas of your life, such as doing chores around your house or playing with kids.
8) Choose whole grains over refined grains
Whole grains are more nutritious than refined grains, because they have all three parts of their natural package: bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined grains have had two of these removed to make them easier to process, which leaves behind two-thirds of their nutritional value. When you buy whole grains like brown rice or quinoa instead of enriched, processed versions like white rice or cornmeal, you’re getting more fiber, vitamins, minerals—and less added sugar—per serving. The bonus?
9) Practice yoga or Tai Chi
Aside from providing all sorts of health benefits, including better balance, more flexibility, reduced stress, greater mental clarity and improved sleep, exercise has also been shown to improve longevity. One study found that women over 75 who did moderate to vigorous physical activity three times per week were 30 percent less likely to die over a five-year period than their sedentary peers. And another study found that older adults who did regular exercises (both aerobic and strength training) had twice as many friends as those who didn’t.
10) Laugh often
When you laugh, your body releases endorphins—that’s nature’s way of saying you deserve to feel good. Even just ten minutes of laughter is enough to significantly reduce stress levels. Don’t forget to try belly laughs: It takes more muscles to make that happen than any other kind, so it burns tons of calories while making you look like an idiot in front of all your friends. (Bonus points if they film it and put it on YouTube.)