10 Examples of Healthy Lifestyle Choices

A longer life, a better mood, and the energy to enjoy life to the fullest—are just a few reasons we all want to live healthier lives. But, your wellbeing is largely on the lifestyle choices you make. Some daily habits will hinder our health, while others can unlock a long life of physical and mental well-being. Keep reading for 10 healthy lifestyle examples you can start implementing today.

What is a healthy lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is a way of living that lowers the risk of disease and early death, while promoting better physical and mental health https://talen.id/ as you age—collectively known as your healthspan. There is more than one way to practice healthy living. Just take a look at the Blue Zones, for example. [1] These are five regions across the globe with the highest percentage of people who live to be at least 100 years old—centenarians— and they do so with virtually no illnesses like heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, or diabetes. Their varied cultures, landscapes, and resources mean their day-to-day lives may look different, but they still share common lifestyle choices that likely contribute to their long, healthy lives. Current research suggests habits like healthy eating patterns, engaging in regular physical activity, and tending to one’s mental and emotional health comprise a healthy lifestyle.

Here are 10 tips for living a healthy lifestyle:

1. Eat a more plant-based diet

Research shows that diets rich in nutrient-dense plant foods—vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds—may lower disease risk and promote a long life. [2-4] In a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, vegan and vegetarian diets were associated with reduced levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and blood glucose—important blood biomarkers of health and disease risk. [4] Similar findings have been reported in studies assessing the effects of replacing meat with plant-based proteins. [5,6]

Key takeaway: Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables and try to swap red and processed meats for plant-based proteins like tofu, beans, nuts, and seeds.

2. Choose healthy fats

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—commonly referred to as healthy fats—help fight damaging inflammation and lower cardiovascular disease risk. Olive oil, the primary source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet and rich in monounsaturated fat, can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels (commonly referred to as good cholesterol). [7-8] Fish and seafood rich in the essential polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), may help lower coronary heart disease and mortality risk. [9] Research shows these omega-3 fatty acids are also important for brain health and cognition. [10,11]

Key takeaway: Boost your intake of healthy fats by substituting butter (a source of saturated fat) with olive oil, consuming 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week, and snacking on nuts and seeds.

3. Drink alcohol in moderation

Research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption—two drinks or less per day for men and one drink or less per day for women—is associated with the lowest risk of heart disease, cancer, and mortality risk when compared to none or higher alcohol intake. [12,13] However, some studies indicate that any alcohol intake increases cancer risk, so those that don’t drink should not start drinking. [14]

Key takeaway: Moderate alcohol consumption may have some health benefits, but there are risks to overconsuming alcohol.

4. Stay hydrated

The body is about 60% water and every cell, tissue, and organ needs water to function optimally. Proper hydration is essential for energy, mood, and body temperature regulation, lubricating joints, digestion, transporting nutrients throughout the body, and eliminating waste and toxins. [15] Even mild levels of dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, impaired concentration, and reduced alertness. [16,17]

Key takeaway: If you need help meeting your hydration needs, keep a reusable water bottle by your side to sip on throughout the day and enhance the flavor of water by adding fresh fruit or cucumbers. Or, opt for alternative hydrating beverages like herbal tea or seltzer water.

5. Try yoga

Yoga is a practice that incorporates both meditation and relaxation techniques through physical postures and breathwork and is a highly effective tool for managing stress. Studies have linked yoga practice with reduced stress, improved emotional state, and reduced levels of serum cortisol, the stress hormone that can lead to increased weight gain, higher blood pressure, and anxiety when elevated. [18-20] In addition, research shows yoga may improve blood pressure, blood glucose, total cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels. [21-24]

Key takeaway: There are multiple types of yoga practices available through in-person studios or virtual classes. These classes are offered at various skill levels. So even if you haven’t practiced before, you can still learn the foundations.

6. Start strength training

Strength training, also known as resistance training or weight training, is a form of physical activity that requires muscles to lift, push, or pull until fatigued—thereby increasing or maintaining muscle and bone mass. [25,26] This in turn can lead to reduced disease risk, better blood sugar control, and preservation of a person’s ability to perform daily activities with ease. [27-29] Studies have also found associations between strength training and reduced levels of chronic inflammation, improved cognition, better heart health, and increased longevity. [30-34]

Key takeaway: The current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults strength train and work all major muscle groups at least two days a week.

7. Sit less

Gym workouts and going for a run are certainly beneficial, but these activities alone may not negate the negative effects of sitting all day long. Research shows that long periods of sitting may significantly shorten a person’s lifespan and can increase insulin resistance and worsen heart health. [35-37] The good news is that studies reveal frequent standing or walking breaks may mitigate some of the damage of sitting. [37] This informal movement may ultimately contribute to a longer, healthier life, as evidenced by all five locations in the Blue Zones promoting natural movements like walking, hiking, or gardening. [1]

Key takeaway: Movement throughout the day, even walking around the house or office, is beneficial for your health.

8. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night

Sleep is an essential function that gives the body and brain time to restore and repair. While a person sleeps, the body has the opportunity to repair and build muscle, consolidate memory, and strengthen the immune system. [36-38] Research shows that adequate sleep also promotes metabolic health, better blood sugar control, and longevity. [39,40] Current evidence suggests the optimal sleep duration for most healthy adults is seven to nine hours a night. [41]

Key takeaway: Following a consistent bedtime routine that includes limiting screen time, taking a warm shower, closing all binds, and cooling the bedroom can help promote optimal sleep.

9. Take time to meditate

Given the multitude of negative health consequences that come with chronic stress, finding strategies to manage and reduce stress is vital. One effective tool is meditation, a practice that involves focusing or clearing your mind using a combination of mental and physical techniques. Studies show that meditation can help people relax and reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. [42,43]

Key takeaway: Many apps can help guide you through Meditation—whether that’s a walking meditation or structured breathing exercises.

10. Connect with others

Relationships and social connections are key components and common traits among the world’s longest-lived people [1]. Research suggests that people who have social support from family, friends, and their community have fewer health problems and live longer, likely due to the stress-relieving effects of social connection [44]. Conversely, a lack of social ties increases the risk of death anywhere from 50-91% [45].

Key takeaway: Sitting down with friends or family at mealtimes or calling a loved one are great ways to connect with others daily.

What things should you avoid for a healthy lifestyle?

Just as there are commonalities to healthy lifestyle choices, there are also several habits that are linked to poor health outcomes that you should avoid or minimize.

  • Cigarettes: Smoking is strongly correlated to disease and early death. Research shows that any amount of cigarette smoking increases mortality risk, which increases as the frequency of smoking increases. [46]
  • Ultra-processed or fast food: Ultra-processed foods—highly processed packaged foods made primarily with manufactured ingredients—and fast food tend to be high in saturated fats, added sugars, and sodium. These foods and ingredients have all been linked to increased chronic disease risk. [47] Moreover, these foods are typically low in beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals that promote health.
  • Chronic stress: Studies have linked chronic stress to several negative health outcomes like elevated glucose levels, high blood pressure, and a weakened immune system, which can contribute toward disease development and ultimately increased mortality risk. [48,49]
  • Heavy alcohol use: Excessive drinking triggers a myriad of health issues, including chronic diseases such as heart disease, liver disease, and several types of cancer. Research also shows that heavy drinking is associated with a significantly increased risk of early death. [12]
  • Sedentary activities: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for chronic diseases and death worldwide. It increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by 20-30%. [50]

How do you make healthy lifestyle changes?

Many people want to make healthier lifestyle choices, but actually doing so can be difficult. Fortunately, there are strategies you can try that will make changing your lifestyle easier. First, start with a small goal. Oftentimes, the hardest part of adopting new habits is getting started. It’s important to make the initial goal realistic and attainable.

Second, be specific with your goals. Many people set intentions to eat healthier or exercise more, but these vague habits can be difficult to follow through with and track. Instead, make the goal more specific. Include the time, location, and frequency of your desired habit. For example, you could set a goal to run for 30 minutes three days a week before work or set a goal to add one more vegetable to your weekday lunches. Including these details will give you a concrete plan to implement the habit. Other strategies you can try include rewarding yourself for meeting goals and finding a friend or professional to provide support and accountability.

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