It is said that actions speak louder than words, but that saying seems to be most true when it comes to our health. The more active we are, the healthier we tend to be. It isn’t just physical health that benefits from an active lifestyle either – mental health, emotional well-being, and even cognitive performance all benefit from physical activity. If there is one habit that can make you a healthier person, it is being physically active. Of course there isn’t just one habit for improving your health. Getting active is just one way to boost your well-being. Here are 10 habits that can put you on the track toward total wellness.
Take Time to Be Grateful at the End of Every Day
Being stressed out is one of the worst things you can do for your health. Stress increases your risk of series illness and disease, but is also makes you unhappy. One great way to reduce stress to is to think positive. Take ten minutes every night, before bed, to think of three things that you are grateful for. This simple exercise can actually improve your mood for up to two weeks (if you only do it once) and reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24469930).
Physical activity is the best way to stay healthy and you don’t even have to do anything strenuous. In fact, a quiet walk a few times a week may be all it takes to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, and a host of other problems (http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261).
Eat One Healthy Meal
You don’t have to torture yourself into eating healthy every minute of every day. You can get all of the benefits of eating healthy and still enjoy food by ensuring that at least one of your three meals is ultra-healthy. This isn’t a license to binge at every other meal, but you don’t have to eat like a rabbit all day either.
Be Active All Day
Many people have “desk jobs” these days and all of that sitting is killing us. Research indicates that our risk of a pulmonary embolism (serious blood clot) increases by 40% for every two hours of additional sitting we do each day. To combat this risk as well as the other risks of a sedentary life style (e.g. diabetes), try to stand, stretch, or walk for a minimum of 5-10 minutes every hour of your day whether at work or at home.
The more you explore outside of your comfort zone, the healthier you will be. New situations boost brain power and help to keep you physically fit. Explore the world around you and it will make you healthier, happier, and more interesting at cocktail parties.
Sleep is essential to well-being and study after study confirms that adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. People who get significantly less than seven hours of sleep tend to die younger and those who sleep more than nine hours usually have trouble with depression. Hit the sweet spot at 7-8 and see your doctor if sleep and tiredness are a real problem for you (http://www.wsj.com/articles/sleep-experts-close-in-on-the-optimal-nights-sleep-1405984970).
People with robust social networks are healthier and happier than loaners. You don’t have to have a lot of friends to be happy, but you need people in your life who can support you when times get tough. If your social life is on the rocks, consider ways to improve the way you connect with other people. It could save your life.
Cook at Home
Research indicates that the more often you cook at home, the healthier you will be (http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S136898001200136X). You have much more control over what goes into each meal if you prepare it yourself, which is why home-cooked meals (from scratch, not from boxes or cans) are the most nutritious.
Sex is good for your health. It releases endorphins that lower heart rate, reduce pain, and improve feelings and well-being. It also counts as exercise and can even boost immunity (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15217036).
Drink More Water
A glass of water before every meal can help you feel fuller and make it easier to avoid over-eating (http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/4-healthy-daily-habits-that-will-actually-change-your-life.html). Besides helping with your appetite, water is just plain good for everything from your skin to your kidneys. It is also, more or less, free.