7 Steps to Jumpstart Healthy Habits


Exercise Daily
Exercise has well-established connections to everything from chronic disease prevention to mental and cognitive health benefits. “For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread this exercise throughout the week. Examples include running, walking or swimming. Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefits.
  • Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week. Examples include lifting free weights, using weight machines or doing body-weight training.”
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
We eat with our eyes – keep your plate colorful. Fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, are naturally low in calories, and have fiber to help maintain good health. To reduce fresh food costs, look for fruits and vegetables that are in season for your area.
Think Positive
Exercise helps to lift your mood and is a natural stress reliever. Mayo Clinic recommends practicing positive self-talk, “Start by following one simple rule: Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you. Think about things you're thankful for in your life.”
Drink More Water
How much should we drink in a day? The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommends a daily fluid intake of:
  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women
Remember to modify your water intake when exercising, if you’re in a hot or humid climate, or if the medical need arises (e.g. – flu, cold, pregnancy/breast feeding, medication use requiring more water, etc.).
Get Enough Sleep
Another benefit of exercise is its impact on sleep quality. Exercise as part of your regular routine can contribute to more restful sleep and increase deep sleep - the most physically restorative sleep phase. The general recommendation is to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information found that “As early as 1964, data have shown that 7-hour sleepers experience the lowest risks for all-cause mortality, whereas those at the shortest and longest sleep durations have significantly higher mortality risks.” Continued nights of short sleep cycles “is related to cardiovascular disease, cancer, cerebrovascular accidents, diabetes, and hypertension.”
Keep Your Emotional Balance
Keeping your emotional balance takes work, self-care, and knowing when it’s time to reach out to anyone who helps ground you, including friends and family, and knowing when it’s time to seek professional help.
Allow yourself to feel and process whatever comes up. Acknowledge the emotion by putting it into words such as, “I am worried right now.”  Psychology Today recommends including “self-soothing activities that help to reduce emotional intensity and provide a calming effect, such as meditation, intentional breathing, yoga, listening to music you enjoy, progressive muscle relaxation, taking a walk or a hike, reading something pleasurable or spiritual, singing a favorite song, exercising, visualizing a relaxing image, and journaling.”
Meditate – Calm Your Body and Mind
Try meditation to help reduce stress. According to Mayo Clinic, “Research has found that meditation may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression [and] may offer many benefits, such as helping with concentration, relaxation, inner peace, stress reduction and fatigue.”
Sometimes our body just needs to take a deep breath in…. deep breath out. Find time to walk away from your work and other life stressors and breathe.
Take a moment each day to think of when you can fit in activity and moment to keep your body moving. Even 10 mins a few times a day will start adding up.
Sources: Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.org, The National Center for Biotechnology Information: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Psychology Today: www.psychologytoday.com

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