By: Lauren Silver
Living a healthy lifestyle means different things to everyone. It could mean monitoring your calorie intake and eating nutritious foods. It could also mean going on a 30-minute walk a few times per week or making time to go to the gym. Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean depriving yourself, getting caught up in weight loss or feeling like you can’t enjoy life. In fact, when you commit to a healthy lifestyle, it may just turn into a happier lifestyle, too.
Here are 10 small steps you can take to live a healthier lifestyle on your own terms.
- Get your fill of H2O
One of the best things you can do for your body is to drink water. Yes, it’s really that simple! The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women. Getting a rambler or reusable water bottle you can take with you on-the-go can help you to increase your water intake while also measuring how much you’re drinking each day. Drinking water can help energize your muscles, keep your skin looking fresh and it may help your kidneys, too, according to WebMD.
- Keep fruit in your home
Keep your refrigerator stocked with healthy foods. It may sound obvious, but if you buy fruit and make it readily available, you’ll be more likely to eat it. Apples, oranges, and pears can be left out in a bowl on your kitchen table, so instead of grabbing an unhealthy snack when you’re hungry, you’ll be more inclined to grab an appetizing piece of fruit instead. Aim to eat at least two cups of fruit per day—and no, fruity juices don't count since they’re often laden with sugar.
- Get more sleep
Sleep plays a surprisingly important role in overall health. While everyone requires different amounts of sleep, getting the right amount for your body can help boost brainpower, learning skills, decision making and more, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Your immune system also can be impacted by sleep. You may find you have a harder time fighting off a cold or infection if you're not sleeping well. For adults ages 26-64, the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night. For adults 65+, seven to eight hours are recommended.
- Just breathe
Stress impacts everyone in different ways, but one way in which it’s similar for everyone is that it isn’t good for your health and mental well-being. When you’re feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe. Meditation is great for stress relief and many apps available on your phone can take you through a quick meditation to ease your mind and soul.
- Exercise by finding activities you enjoy
You may laugh at the idea of enjoying exercise. And that’s fine! But a big part of getting into a regular exercise routine is finding activities you enjoy and will want to do regularly. Rekindle a passion for dance that you had at a young age. Join a recreational basketball or soccer league. Try a group fitness class at a local gym or fitness studio. Fill the basement with exercise and fitness equipment. The options are endless, and if you try different things, you’re bound to find the one you want to keep doing.
- Take a daily walk with your family
One way to get healthier while hardly noticing is to take a daily walk with family or friends. You’ll spend the walk chatting, enjoying the outdoors and engaging in quality time with loved ones. What’s better than that? Well, the benefits reaped from getting healthy and staying active make it even sweeter.
- Park far away from the entrance to the grocery store
If you’re constantly driving rather than walking to get where you need to go, consider parking at the back of the parking lot and making your walk to the store a bit longer. This is perfect for trips to the grocery store or the mall where the parking lots are often lengthy. You can wheel out your groceries in a cart, so you won’t have to worry about carrying heavy packages to the car. Bonus points if you walk the grocery cart all the way back to the store!
- Cook more and eat out less
Going out to eat at a restaurant can be a fun date night or activity, but when you cook your own food, you can ensure you know exactly what you’re eating and the ingredients you’re putting into your body. Throwing foods like vegetables, chicken or fish onto the barbecue grill is a great idea for a fun, delicious and healthy dinner. If you don’t have an outdoor barbecue, you can get a portable or indoor grill, which will do the job nicely.
- Limit your alcohol intake
Alcohol is full of sugar and calories and can limit your ability to sleep, but those aren’t the worst ways in which drinking plays a negative role in your overall health. Drinking can cause damage to the heart, liver, and pancreas, and there's even scientific proof that alcohol consumption can lead to cancer, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). That doesn’t mean you should never consume alcohol, but drinking in moderation is advised. For women, the NIAAA suggests no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week. For men, the NIAAA advises no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week.
- Bring your lunch to work
Packing lunch for work or school instead of going out to eat or buying lunch can help you to control your calorie intake and the healthfulness of your daily lunches. Have you ever had a mid-day craving and wound up eating an unhealthy lunch as a result? Packing your lunch will help you avoid panic meals while stressed at work. Get an insulated lunch bag and start packing healthy lunches like salads with grilled chicken, soups, quinoa with salmon or leftovers from the night before. You’ll feel extra satisfied when you’re eating a meal made in your own home. Plus, we bet you won’t mind saving extra money by not eating out.
Make Small, Measurable Changes
As you can see, forging a healthier lifestyle doesn’t have to involve making any huge changes. A few daily adjustments will help get you on a path to health and well-being, and you’ll feel great about yourself in no time!