How To Reach Your Healthiest Point With 7 Simple Practices

two young women indoor cycling at gym

How healthy are you? If you wait until January 1st every year to commit to better health, you may be spending the second half of the year largely forgetting about that commitment.

You're not alone though! Staying on a healthy track can be tough.

If you start incorporating some simple practices every day of the year though, you'll find that it doesn't take long to build healthy habits that become your lifestyle. 

1. Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you're currently overweight and your sole focus of losing weight is to look better, you may want to shift the focus to feeling better.

When you're overweight, you're more prone to injuries because of the extra stress on your joints. You're also more likely to suffer from arthritis.

Plus, being overweight puts you at higher risk for multiple conditions including diabetes, higher blood pressure and cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke.

So finding a healthy weight and staying there is paramount to good health. Exercise and diet are key. 

2. Exercise Regularly

There's never been a shortage of reasons to not exercise. It takes too long, it's boring, it hurts, it's not working... the list goes on.

Once you establish an exercise routine though, you'll be amazed at how much better you feel.

Along with strengthening the muscles, regular exercise makes for stronger bones and more supple joints. This is essential as you age.

It also kicks up endorphins and helps reduce the stress that can contribute to a multitude of other conditions and diseases.

Finally, an often unrecognized benefit is the sense of community you feel in working out with others. If you're able to find some workout buddies, it can make exercise so much easier. 

3. Eat Well

This is a big one.

It's also a difficult one - given all the fad diets and information coming from so many different directions.

The general rule of thumb for a healthy diet is to stick to the basics.

Get plenty of fruits and vegetables - at least five servings per day and ideally nine. You can do this by eating more salad and vegetable soups, as well as drinking smoothies or sneaking dried fruit onto your breakfast cereal. 

To get a wider selection of vitamins and minerals, be sure to choose from a full-color palette of fruits and veggies.

When eating grains, opt for whole-grain foods versus those made with refined grains. For example, you can swap out white rice and pasta for brown rice and whole-wheat pasta. Limit your intake of white potatoes and take advantage of whole grains like quinoa, kamut, barley, and bulgur. 

Cut back on red meat and work to get more protein from plant sources like beans, nuts, and grains. 

Lean toward eating more fish (which are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids) or well-trimmed poultry. Steer clear of protein sources high in saturated fat, such as cheese. 

No need to ban fats altogether though. Just consume them in moderation and stick with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Keep saturated fats at a minimum and avoid trans fats as much as possible.

4. Limit Alcohol Consumption

Once you've incorporated a healthier diet and it becomes more habitual, then take a look at your alcohol consumption.

There's nothing wrong with having one drink each day if you're a woman, or two if you're a man. 

What qualifies as a drink though?

This would be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. 

Drinking more than the recommended amount will not only add unwanted and empty calories, but it can damage your liver. It also puts you at higher risk for certain cancers including pancreas and throat.

5. Preventive Care

Do you tend to wait until something is wrong before you go to the doctor? You may want to rethink this strategy.

Certain diseases can be detected before you start to feel symptoms. And by the time you do feel symptoms, it could be much harder to treat it.

So be sure to get regular check-ups and screenings to prevent illnesses before they start. 

For example, women should get pap smears every three years.

Mammograms are also essential for women. If you have risk factors, your doctor may recommend that you get regular screenings sooner than the average age. It's important to remember that men get breast cancer too.

Men should start paying more attention to their prostate as they age. 

Plus, all adults should get regularly screened for colorectal cancer once they turn 50. Again, you may need to do this before that age if you have a family history.

6. Quit Smoking

This is probably one of the biggest new year's resolutions. It's also one of the most difficult.

Smoking is physically and psychologically addictive. Some people can quit cold turkey and make it work. Others may have to quit several times before it finally sticks. 

There are also plenty of smoking cessation programs and pharmaceuticals to help those who want to quit smoking. Some health insurance even covers them. You can visit this page to find out more.

It's well worth the effort to quit. Smoking contributes to heart disease, stroke, emphysema, CPD, and osteoporosis.

Plus, since it challenges one's ability to breathe, it makes it even harder to engage in healthy and needed physical exercise.

Fortunately, if you quit smoking you can repair some, if not all, of the damage done. Your risk of heart disease will begin to drop within a few months. Five years after quitting, the risk matches that of a non-smoker.

Your risk of stroke, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer also decreases each year after you quit.

So quitting smoking - and staying away from second-hand smoke - is one of the best things you can do for your health. 

7. Protect Your Skin

For some reason, current culture dictates that having a tan is the equivalent of being in good health.

As a result, people flock to the beach or tanning booths to bronze their skin.

So it's not surprising that skin cancer has become the most common cancer in the United States.

Your skin is your largest organ. So it's important to protect it with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has a minimum SPF of 15. 

No matter how dark your skin, nobody is immune from the risk of skin cancer.

How Healthy Are You?

It's not an easy question to answer. 

If you incorporate the above practices though and make them habitual, you'll soon be able to answer the question of how healthy are you with a simple "Very!"

You've got this.

For more great how-to articles, keep checking back with us!

 

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