A habit is a behavior pattern that is repeated regularly and subconsciously; it is learned through repetition and can be changed or broken if needed. Healthy habits are ones that benefit your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, which include:
- Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Spending quality time with loved ones
- Avoiding smoking
- Drinking plenty of water
- Indulging in gratitude
Healthy habits aren’t miracles, and they don’t show up overnight – they can be difficult to develop and often require changing your mindset. According to a 2009 study by the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes a person between 18 and 254 days to create and form a habit, depending on the habit. On top of that, it takes roughly 66 days for that new habit to become automatic and be fully implemented in one’s routine.¹
We have all likely heard the phrase “old habits die hard,” which represents the difficulty and challenge of breaking negative habits, but breaking bad routines isn’t entirely impossible. Just like all good things, change will take time.
Here are the top 5 benefits of implementing healthy habits in your everyday life.
One of the more well-known benefits of indulging in healthy habits such as eating well or regularly exercising is the weight loss that results from those activities. Feeding your body nutrients, drinking plenty of water, and partaking in frequent exercise or physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight while also improving cardiovascular health and boosting energy levels.
You don’t even have to grind out a ton of hours at the gym to feel the benefits. Simple activities such as walking around the block or going to a local park can make all the difference. Even smaller tasks, such as walking to your local coffee shop instead of driving or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, can help you make conscious efforts to become more active.
Additionally, having a balanced diet can help your overall health and control your weight. For example, by starting off the day with a healthy breakfast, you may avoid becoming overly hungry and snacking before lunch. Skipping breakfast can also raise your blood sugar, which increases fat storage. Limiting your sugar intake can also help you maintain weight, and although it may be difficult to break habits such as drinking a cold soda with every meal, you can always start small by restricting yourself to only a couple cans per week, then one per week, and so on. As long as you consume in moderation while purposefully pursuing a healthier, more active lifestyle, you will start to feel the positive effects of these great habits.
By taking care of your body, you are also taking care of your mind. Physical activity stimulates the production of endorphins, which is a type of hormone that triggers positive emotions. Not only will you feel good internally, but eating well and exercising regularly can lead to a better physique, which can boost your overall confidence and self-esteem. When you look good, you feel good, thus improving your mood drastically.
Another way to improve your mood through habits is journaling, volunteering, or making other types of social connections. These activities can help your mental functions by using mindfulness and interpersonal connections to keep your mind active. Whether it is spending time with your loved ones or just yourself, those special connections can help you cultivate a more positive mood. Journaling is a wonderful habit to build, as it’s a great way to reflect on feelings of gratitude and appreciation.
When you practice healthy habits such as going on walks or moving your body for half an hour each day, you boost your chances of a longer life. Regular walking can help improve bone strength, increase cardiovascular endurance, reduce blood cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.
Even starting off small with short, ten-minute walks is a great way to make active, conscious decisions regarding your health. According to a study conducted by the Institute for Aerobics Research, out of 13,000 participants, those who walked just 30 minutes a day significantly reduced their chances of dying prematurely in comparison to those who did not exercise regularly.²
Maintaining healthy habits, such as eating well and getting enough vitamin D, are great ways to boost your energy levels. When your skin is exposed to sunlight, the sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) rays hit cholesterol in your skin cells, transforming them into a vitamin D precursor and providing energy for vitamin D synthesis to take place. Vitamin D is essential for keeping your energy levels high and mood upbeat.
Likewise, eating a balanced diet allows your body to receive the fuel it needs to manage your energy levels. A healthy diet includes:
- Whole grains
- Lean meats
- Low-fat dairy
- Beans and lentils
Not only do these foods provide great sustenance for your body, but they don’t carry that lethargic, “food coma” effect that other unhealthy meals add to your system after consumption.
Physical exercise also contributes to higher energy levels by pumping up your cardiovascular system and delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. Additionally, increased energy levels are attributed to getting a full night’s rest of 7-8 hours of sleep (more or less depending on your age). Once your body indulges in good-quality, fulfilling sleep, it is recharged and refreshed for the next day.
Healthy habits can help prevent certain conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and strokes. By taking care of your physical health, your body will maintain blood flow, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Your body thanks you for investing time in yourself by helping you to stay even healthier.
Regular physical activity and a well-balanced diet can also help you manage a wide range of health issues, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Some types of cancers
- Liver disease³
One way to keep up with your health is to schedule a physical exam every year. Your weight, blood pressure, and heartbeat will be measured to determine if there are any current health concerns to address. Your doctor will also take a urine and blood sample to fully ensure your body is functioning properly. It is important to follow up with your doctor and take any recommendations necessary to further improve your health and prevent disease.
Healthy habits reduce the risk of certain diseases, boost your energy, and improve your physical and mental health. Although negative habits can be difficult to break, it’s not entirely impossible. Just give yourself time and set realistic goals on what you want to achieve. Start small. Building habits is not a one-day switch; it takes time and conscious effort if you really want to make a change and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Once you start building a routine filled with these healthy habits, your life may improve drastically. Good luck!