In this week’s blog, I’m going to take a step away from focusing on fitness and look at the habits of highly healthy people. As a personal trainer, you may wonder why this is important, but a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle means more than eating well and exercising. It means taking care of your body, mind and spirit to give a 360° approach to living well. There’s no magic formula to living your healthiest life, but incorporating these ten habits that healthy people have in common is a great place to start.
Habit 1: Adequate sleep
In today’s world, sleep can be a hard thing to attain. With more intense jobs requiring us to work longer and longer hours, it can be very easy to fall into the trap of burning the candle at both ends. A recent study by Richard Wiseman, professor in the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, in conjunction with his latest book, Night School, found that 59 percent of Brits get seven hours or less sleep every night.
It’s now seen as a good thing to skip sleep to complete one more bit of work, get one more proposal done or finish one more task. The issue with this is that over time, sleep deprivation occurs with devastating effects on both your normal life and exercise routine. You may hear comments claiming the most successful people are up at four, five or six in the morning, work hard all day and burn the candle at both ends. While this might be true for the odd day, the perception that they run at this high an intensity every day isn’t true. Aim for 7-9 hours of good quality sleep a night to let your body recharge properly for life’s challenges.
Habit 2: Make time for friends and family
Having regular social contact with friends and loved ones is key to avoiding depression, which can lead to premature death, something that’s particularly prevalent in elderly widows and widowers. Some psychologists even think that having a daily connection with a close friend or family member gives people the added benefit of having someone watch their back. “They’ll tell you if they think your memory is going or if you seem more withdrawn,” says Perls, “and they might push you to see a doctor before you recognize that you need to see one yourself.”
Habit 3: Physical activity
Exercise and physical activity are not only good for you, they’re also a fun way to spend time, a chance to unwind, to be outdoors, to get social or to simply do something that makes you happy. Find a physical activity you enjoy and do it every day. A good general goal is to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. If you want to lose weight or increase your fitness level, you may need more exercise or at a higher intensity. Bottom line, all movement counts, not just exercise.
Habit 4: Meditation
Mindfulness and spirituality are topics that seem to be increasing in popularity. The number of books and courses giving information on how to meditate and achieve mindfulness is now rife and with good reason. Psychological well-being is equally, if not more important than physical well-being, and by neglecting your psychological health you run the risk of long term problems. With an extreme over stimulation from electronic equipment and heavier workloads, there is a tendency for people to not ‘switch off’ resulting in late nights and sleep deprivation. One way to quite to mind is through meditation which can help bring stillness, calm and clarity. Mediation has been used for thousands of years and is one of the most, if not the most, effective way to quiet the mind and achieve calm.
- Stress reduction
- Reduced illnesses and health care
- Improved motivation and dedication
- Improved pain tolerance
- Greater focus and commitment to exercise
- Stronger immune system
- Meditation stops the mind from ruminating and reduces the focus on the recent position
- Better sleep
- Increased grey matter in the brain
- Greater creativity
- More compassion
So, aim to begin at 5 minutes in the morning and evening and build it up from there.
Habit 5: Eat healthily
What you eat has a direct connection to your health status. If you want to live a long life and ward off health issues, you need to eat healthy.
Eating healthily does more than just keeping your body in shape. It helps keep your heart in shape, boost your immune system, keep you energetic, improve your memory and prevent many health problems.
Eating healthily is not that hard. With just small dietary changes, you can improve your health. These key tips will help a lot:
- Eat more natural and organic fruits and vegetables, whole-grain foods and lean proteins.
- Use healthy oil like olive oil, coconut oil or safflower oil for cooking.
- Read food labels to help you choose healthy foods.
- Snack on nuts and seeds.
- Limit your sodium and sugar intake.
- Avoid eating red meats as well as junk foods.
- Instead of eating out, cook at home.
- Instead of 2 large meals, eat 5 or 6 small meals.
- Always chew your food thoroughly.
Habit 6: Forgiveness
Forgiveness plays a very important role in your life, especially within your most intimate relationships. Forgiveness offers both freedom and peace of mind, yet many choose to hold on to pain, bitterness and resentment. A lack of forgiveness lies at the heart of many problems; learning to let it go, thereby releasing you from its prison, can only result in one thing—happiness. Your health and well-being are closely connected to your happiness. Practicing forgiveness will contribute significantly to them.
Habit 7: Gratitude
Studies show that people who express gratitude are more optimistic and feel better about their lives. There is no better cure than giving thanks for what you already have instead of focusing on the small percent of what you don’t. Tony Robbins, the wonder personal development coach, cites that anger and gratitude cannot occupy the same space. By being grateful, it is impossible for you to be angry or upset.
Habit 8: Laugh
Yes, laugh! Laughing is coined as the best medicine, as it has shown to boost the immune system, promote heart health, burn calories, ease pain, support mental health, and improve quality of life. Increase humour and laughter by smiling more, thinking positive thoughts, watching funny videos, taking life less seriously, and just flat out being silly!
Habit 9: Go offline
Do you check your email and social media a lot? Sure, your friends’ and family’s latest updates are just a click away, but do you really need to see pictures of your cousin’s latest meal? Let it wait until morning. Set a time to log off and put the phone down, turn off the laptop/tablet and switch off the TV. The time away from the screen will do you wonders and give your brain time to recharge. It’s not known that screen time places enormous stress on the brain. When you cut back on screen time, it frees you to do other things. Take a walk, read a book, or help your cousin chop veggies for her next great dinner.