After all, it’s easy to tell yourself that your New Year’s Resolution is going to be to lose X amount of pounds or do 300 push-ups a day, but in reality vague, unrealistic goals will only ever end with disappointment. The fact is, healthy living is not a project, but a lifestyle that requires relaxed but consistent commitment over the course of years.
That’s not to say that goals don’t help, however. Rather than aim for impossible goals, try to shape your healthy lifestyle with guiding principles in order to stay on track. With that in mind, here are five guidelines for how to stay healthy and active throughout your lifetime.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Physical health is largely dictated by two factors: the fuel you eat and how you use that fuel. For many, healthy diets are a cornerstone of healthy living. However, healthy eating doesn’t mean you have to start some ridiculous and unsustainable diet like only eating steamed chicken breasts and lettuce for every meal. A healthy diet requires a good balance of food groups, plenty of nutrients, and regular portion sizes.
If losing weight is the goal, research has suggested that limiting portion sizes is the best and most sustainable diet to reduce calorie intake while still being able to eat what you want. Alternatively, intermittent fasting is also a good way to reduce calorie intake. Be careful, though, since intermittent fasting can quickly lead to unhealthy eating habits like skipping consecutive meals before gorging on food late at night to satiate hunger.
Additionally, avoiding unhealthy foods (like fat-filled snacks, sugary drinks, and fried foods) is important if you regularly tend to eat these in excess. That said, for the ordinary person, a French fry every so often isn’t going to kill you. Healthy, sustainable diets are much better than extreme fads that end in a week.
While eating well is important, how you use the calories from your meals is just as vital a component in determining your overall physical health. Regular exercise doesn’t necessarily look like weightlifting four times a week in a fancy gym with an expensive membership.
The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate exercise per day for healthy living. While this doesn’t sound like much, many people who work sedentary jobs or are students often neglect to move around a little in favor of finishing a last-minute project or cramming for an exam.
Exercise can just mean taking the stairs rather than exercising, biking home rather than driving, or going for a walk rather than collapsing into your couch after work. Try to find ways to incorporate physical activity into your day-to-day routine.
Take Steps to Maintain Your Health
Be honest: when was the last time you had a doctor’s checkup? Doctors typically recommend a minimum of one routine checkup every three years for individuals under the age of 50, and once a year for individuals over the age of 50. Regular visits to medical professionals are important in order to make sure your body is in tip-top shape.
For those who exercise moderately to intensely regularly, or just experience moderate muscle pain from sitting too long, a visit to a physical therapist can help improve your long term health and wellbeing immensely, even if you don’t have an actual injury. It may be wise to look into physical therapy in Philadelphia, Seattle, and Miami — as well as other major cities — can be the first step in finding a local physical therapist who’s right for you.
Pay Attention to Your Mental Health
Now that you’ve taken care of your physical health, it’s time to turn your attention to the other half of your wellbeing — your mental health. Although mental health has been given more mainstream attention in recent years, especially among young people, many individuals still see mental health as less important than physical health.
Sadly, this is a phenomenon commonly observed in how people often have few qualms with locking themselves in a dark room and neglecting sleep to finish a final assignment, but would never run a 24-hour marathon without water or preparation. Mental health is absolutely an incredibly important part of overall health and wellbeing.
Because of this, you’ll want to be sure to take the time to destress and relax every so often. If you find yourself overly stressed, anxious, depressed, or otherwise struggling with poor mental health, remember that it’s okay to seek support and assistance from a therapist or counselor.
Make Sure Your Needs Are Fulfilled
Mental health doesn’t just mean keeping your stress and anxiety levels down, either. Human beings are creatures of various needs. The most obvious of these are physical needs: water, shelter, food, exercise, sleep. However, humans also have emotional needs, too, such as the need to connect with others, the need to have fun, the need to be loved.
These emotional needs are just as important as physical ones. In fact, research has found that loneliness has as much of a detrimental effect on the human body as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Take the time to do things you love, spend time with the people that make you happy, and meet new ones every so often. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your body.
Remember, living healthy doesn’t mean living perfectly. As long as the overall trend of your lifestyle leans towards being healthy, you’re on the right path. And by following these five suggestions, you can help ensure a healthy and ideal lifestyle for yourself for many years to come!