Many people think that being healthy is all about exercising and eating right. However, the truth is that understanding how to live a healthy lifestyle requires a much more holistic approach.
Learning how to live a healthy lifestyle demands not just a healthy diet and regular exercise but also strong mental stability, a generally positive outlook, a robust network of friends and family and much more.
However, very few people meet these criteria. In fact, less than three percent of Americans live a healthy lifestyle, putting the United States dead last in a ranking of general health among affluent countries. Worse yet, the aforementioned study has relatively few qualifiers on what is considered “healthy,” especially when compared to a more well-rounded view of a “healthy lifestyle.”
In order to help you learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and become part of the elite minority of health-conscious people in the United States, today, we will explore what a healthy lifestyle really is and what is required to exist in this way.
Let’s get started.
What Is a Healthy Lifestyle?
According to the study referenced above, to live a healthy lifestyle, a person only needs to meet four requirements:
- A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise per week
- A diet in the top 40 percent, per the Healthy Eating Index
- Under 20 percent body fat for men or 30 percent body fat for women
- A non-smoker
However, as mentioned above, understanding how to live a healthy lifestyle encompasses much more than these four factors.
For instance, in order to be considered “healthy,” it is important to refrain from drinking too much alcohol, get quality sleep on a nightly basis, take good care of one’s teeth, cultivate healthy relationships and so much more. In fact, when taking everything that could possibly make up a healthy lifestyle as a whole, getting there can seem a bit overwhelming.
However, when reviewing this list, it is important to remember that you don’t need to achieve these objectives all at once. In fact, striving to do so might even be a bit unhealthy. Instead, focus on two or three things at a time and simply aim to make progress in each field. Over time, you will begin to gain momentum and live an exponentially healthier lifestyle.
Let’s take a look at how to live a healthy lifestyle.
How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle: 10 Essential Factors
Again, living a healthy lifestyle requires a holistic approach. This is precisely what makes it a “lifestyle” and not a few activities in which you partake.
To live a healthier lifestyle, you will need to:
1. Drink More Water
This is a fairly big factor and one that is relatively easy to integrate into daily life. As it stands, nearly 80 percent of Americans don’t drink enough water, per the standards outlined by the USDA.
Proper hydration is critical for helping our bodies to function properly. From waste removal to the transportation of nutrients, regulating body temperature, brain function and more, water is central to being healthy. Therefore, drinking more water should be high on your list of priorities.
However, there is more to hydration than just water, as you also need electrolytes. The consumption of electrolytes is also critical, as they also aid in brain function, physical performance, immune system effectiveness and other key indicators of health.
Therefore, alongside drinking more water, it is wise to add a sugar-free electrolyte powder into the mix to ensure that you are getting the vitamins and nutrients you need to be healthy.
2. Reduce Your Screen Time
This is another essential element to leading a healthy lifestyle, as too much time in front of a screen (whether that is a television, computer, smartphone, etc.) usually takes time away from other things like family time, physical activity, productivity and other pursuits.
Moreover, much of the time folks spend in front of a screen is spent consuming news media or “infotainment” videos. Unfortunately, the news is inherently negative, as bad things happening is a deviation from the norm and, thus, is considered “news.” This is the meaning behind the industry adage “If it bleeds, it leads.”
Naturally, a 24-hour barrage is going to take its toll, increasing stress (and levels of cortisol, potentially causing weight gain, inflammation and other negative side effects) and decreasing overall happiness.
While you can’t get away from it completely in today’s world, you can make a conscious decision to minimize your exposure and limit your screen time.
3. Eat Well
When discussing how to live a healthy lifestyle, eating whole foods is a core element. This means that consuming a well-balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, protein, healthy fats and whole grains should be at the forefront of your health-oriented agenda.
However, when trying to clean up your diet, beware the panoply of not-so-healthy “health foods.” This category includes deceptive items such as granola bars, flavored yogurts, sports drinks, some plant-based “meat” products (read the labels), dried fruits and similar items, as these all contain loads of sugar.
Instead of going for high-sugar, high-sodium processed foods, opt instead for whole foods and items with as few ingredients as possible. Try a sunflower or black bean burger instead of a product mimicking meat.
Additionally, it is wise to consider a variety of dietary supplements to help meet your nutritional needs, such as a good multivitamin, extra vitamin D, calcium and other supplements like a high-quality multi collagen protein powder.
4. Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
Much of your dietary aspirations play into this point, as maintaining a healthy weight and reducing body fat is more about diet than exercise. After all, you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.
The plain fact is that maintaining a healthy body fat percentage dramatically reduces a person’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, certain kinds of cancer, pregnancy problems and many other ailments.
Additionally, as people get older, they tend to gain weight. This is due to metabolic slowdown, hormonal changes, lower activity levels and other factors. Therefore, it is critical to develop healthy eating and exercise habits as early as possible to avoid age-related weight gain.
If you haven’t already developed these types of habits, it’s not too late. As the popular Chinese proverb goes:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
5. Get the Right Amount of Sleep
Getting more sleep is something that could help many folks lead a healthier life. Much like our water consumption habits, according to the CDC, one third of Americans aren’t getting enough sleep.
This can be a massive problem, as sleep deprivation can have a variety of adverse health effects, such as problems with problem-solving and concentration, a weakened immune system, weight gain, high blood pressure, a higher risk for diabetes and heart disease, anxiety, depression and a slew of other issues.
Thus, prioritizing sleep is a critical component for learning how to live a healthy lifestyle. Without the necessary amount of sleep, you are setting yourself up for a multitude of potential problems.
6. Quit Smoking
While this one may seem rather obvious, CDC data on cigarette smoking shows that nearly 31 million adults in the United States still smoke.
It should go without saying that smoking cigarettes is extremely harmful to one’s health, as cigarette smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the country.
Smoking has a negative impact on nearly every organ in the body and can be especially harmful for the lungs. Ultimately, this means that cigarette smoking will diminish the effort you can put in at the gym.
However, it isn’t just cigarette smoking that is antithetical to a healthy lifestyle, as vaping comes with its own health risks. While vaping is generally regarded as safer than smoking, it is still accompanied by traditional side effects as smoking, including coughing, chest pain, addiction and an increased risk of cancer.
Moreover, vaping can also cause mouth and gum disease. Given that the mouth massively impacts a person’s overall health, this should be cause for concern among vapers who wish to lead a healthier lifestyle.
The bottom line here is that if you want to live healthier, then quitting smoking or vaping is necessary.
7. Take Better Care of Your Teeth
Believe it or not, oral hygiene is a window into your general health. In fact, poor oral health can put you at risk for contracting various diseases and conditions such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Birth complications
Because of how critical it is to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth, daily brushing and flossing, along with regular visits to the dentist, are essential for leading a healthy lifestyle.
8. Get Physical
The human body was designed to move. People were not intended to live as sedentary lifestyles as we do and, in many cases, it is killing us. As is detailed by the Mayo Clinic on the dangers of sitting too much:
“An analysis of 13 studies of sitting time and activity levels found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a risk of dying similar to the risks of dying posed by obesity and smoking.”
However, if you work a desk job, you are not doomed. As the piece continues:
“However, unlike some other studies, this analysis of data from more than 1 million people found that 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting. Another study found that sitting time contributed little to mortality for people who were most active.”
Much like a well-balanced diet, regular exercise is at the crux of a healthy lifestyle. There is no debating this point.
However, if you are just getting started, exercise doesn’t have to be intense and grueling. Yoga, swimming and walking are all great activities. In fact, walking provides many of the same health benefits as running.
No matter where you choose to start, the important thing is that you do start.
9. Cultivate Mental Toughness
While many might not like it, people in industrialized societies are soft. Between our vehicles, air conditioning, abundance of food and panoply of conveniences, genuine hardship can be rather scarce.
While this might sound like a good thing – and in many ways it is – it also means that when real adversity rears its head, many people will not know how to manage the situation or themselves.
Like it or not, hardship and adversity breed strength and character, which are each essential for a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, it is important for us to cultivate mental toughness and resilience.
There are many ways of achieving this aim. One ancient method that has been re-popularized in recent years is the study and practice of Stoicism. In a nutshell, Stoicism can teach a person how to properly face adversity, deal with it successfully and even turn it to their benefit.
Because of how comfortable and convenient the modern world is, part of learning how to live a healthy lifestyle means becoming capable of confronting unexpected calamity and thriving amid potential chaos, which requires a good deal of mental fortitude.
10. Spend Time with Good People
Having a network of family, friends and others that you can rely on is important for your health. There exists an extensive body of research that shows those who have weaker social networks tend to die younger than those with strong social bonds.
The plain truth is that people need each other. So, take the time to cultivate robust relationships with good people, spend quality time with family and friends and smile and laugh often.
When it comes to how to live a healthy lifestyle, in many ways, this strikes at the heart of the matter.
Living a Healthier Life
Understanding how to live a healthy lifestyle isn’t about certain exercise routines or diet plans. It’s about taking a holistic approach and applying good habits to each area of your life. Implement the strategies listed above, and you will be well on your way to a happier, healthier life.
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