Now is the time to start making a list of New Year’s resolutions. All these promises we make to ourselves have one goal: to improve in certain areas, abandon bad habits and learn new things. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to improve eating habits, practice more sports, quit smoking, etc. In short: have a healthy lifestyle . Many people, however, do not know where to start. The truth is that adopting healthy habits is not complicated, although it does require time to adapt and gradually get used to new flavors and new routines, for example.
What does it mean to have a healthy lifestyle?
Having a healthy lifestyle means that we have habits that help us maintain good health and help us reduce functional limitations (beyond certain health problems or diseases that do not depend exclusively on habits, but can be improved). thanks to them). These habits are summarized in giving the body what it needs and benefits it; and eliminate what does not contribute anything and, in addition, harms you. Having a good diet, playing sports and taking care of yourself are habits that improve our health. On the contrary, smoking, drinking alcohol or basing our diet on precooked foods harms us in the short and long term.
Thanks to healthy lifestyle habits, our state of physical and mental health improves in general. Additionally, it helps us prevent the onset of various diseases and improve the appearance of our skin and hair, body posture and organ functions, among others.
healthy living habits
Adopting healthy habits should be paramount for anyone, as they benefit our physical and mental health in many ways. Recently, concern about this is growing, so there are more and more trends aimed at healthy life, sports and health care in general.
Although it is true that having time, resources and motivation is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, we can make small changes as we eliminate bad habits from our day to day and adapt to our new lifestyle. Remember that in this case there is no exact goal, since the objective is to improve the state of health and adopt healthy habits permanently.
1. Balanced and varied diet
Having a good diet is the first step to having a healthy life. Follow these tips for a healthy diet :
- Include green leafy vegetables, vegetables, and greens at all meals.
- Eat several pieces of fruit a day.
- Reduce the consumption of meat and, especially, red meat.
- Increase your intake of vegetable protein.
- Increase the consumption of seeds.
- Change refined flours for whole grains (brown rice, whole grain flours, etc.).
- Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking and limit your daily intake to one tablespoon a day.
- Opt for grilled, steamed or baked cooking and reduce or eliminate the consumption of fried and battered foods.
- Avoid processed and ultra-processed foods, pastries and foods rich in refined sugars and saturated fats.
- Reduce the consumption of salt and sauces and increase the use of spices and other natural condiments without additives.
2. Practice physical exercise
Say goodbye to sedentary lifestyle! Exercise is, along with diet, one of the two pillars of a healthy lifestyle. The health benefits of sport are many. Some of them are the following:
- Improves general health.
- Activates the circulatory system and improves blood flow.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- It helps reduce “bad” cholesterol and increases “good” cholesterol.
- Helps prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- Increases respiratory capacity.
- It facilitates the venous circulation of the veins and helps prevent varicose veins, fluid retention, etc.
- Increases flexibility, endurance, balance and agility.
- Increases muscle strength.
- Helps reduce fatigue and physical limitations.
- It increases serotonin and endorphin levels and helps reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, thereby improving overall mental health.
It is enough to do 30 minutes of medium-high intensity exercise every day , or do sports 3 or 4 times a week , between one and two hours. The important thing is to stay active, so if you don’t have time to play sports every day, try these tips:
- If you can, move to places on foot, leave the car or public transport for another time.
- Forget the elevator and go up the stairs.
- Dead time at home? Dance, do cleaning chores, move around.
- Go out and play with your pets.
- Tense the abdomen when walking, it will improve your muscle tone and posture.
- Stretch when you wake up and before you go to sleep.
3. Overweight and obesity
Since 1975 obesity and overweight have tripled . Today it is one of the most common health problems in children and adolescents as well as in adults. Excess body fat can put stress on your heart, bones, and muscles, leading to numerous health problems and increasing your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, breast cancer, and gallbladder disease.
To reduce the risk of being obese or overweight, it is necessary to eliminate the intake of processed and ultra-processed products, refined sugars and trans fats; and adopt a balanced, varied diet consisting mainly of vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains and quality protein.
4. Quit tobacco
In Spain, smoking is a major general health problem. Year after year, anti-tobacco campaigns are carried out and measures are established that aim to limit consumption on public roads, entertainment venues, etc. Tobacco consumption leads to serious health problems: respiratory problems, various types of cancer, cardiorespiratory diseases and more. In addition, it also accelerates aging and damages the skin, among others.
To quit tobacco it is important to have a great willpower, because it is an addiction. Having a good diet, drinking plenty of water, playing sports and doing activities that distract us will help us not to think about it constantly. On the other hand, it is also advisable to avoid situations that encourage tobacco consumption; such as having coffee on the terrace of a cafeteria or going out to a party. It may be a sacrifice at first, but over time the ability to control the urge to smoke will increase and it will no longer be necessary to avoid various situations.
5. Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol is harmful to health on various levels. First of all, it alters emotions, thinking and judgment, so it is not recommended if we want to have good mental health. Regular alcohol intake affects motor control and impairs speech, slows reflexes, and contributes to loss of balance. Alcoholism is one more disease that, in turn, can cause others: liver and pancreas diseases, cancer, myocardial damage and brain damage, among others. In addition, in the case of pregnant people, it can seriously harm the fetus.
7. Manage stress
Stress is very detrimental to health, and is currently one of the main concerns of adolescents and adults. Working hours and conditions, burnout syndrome, the covid-19 pandemic, uncertainty about the future, lack of expectations, the decline of shared values as a society and a long list of reasons that push people to feeling worried and stressed about what is happening and what is to come.
If you feel that stress is overcoming you, you should go to your doctor for a referral to a psychologist to help you manage it. In addition, you can also put into practice the following tips to reduce stress :
- Follow a healthy diet and practice sports regularly.
- Reduce the use of mobile devices and social networks.
- Spend more time in the company of family, friends, and other loved ones.
- Surround yourself with people who bring you positive things.
- Take back the game and bet on activities that help you cultivate your imagination and creativity.
- Meditate and practice yoga.
- Practice mindfulness and doing things consciously.
- Practice self-care.
- Reserve a moment of the day uniquely and exclusively for you.
8. Hygiene and dental care
Hygiene also contributes to maintaining good physical and mental health. A shower helps us relax, rest our muscles and relieve tension. Dental hygiene, on the other hand, not only helps us keep our teeth and gums healthy, but it can also prevent infections and diseases caused by bacteria in the mouth. For this habit to be part of a healthy lifestyle, the importance of brushing teeth after each meal must be instilled from childhood.
9. Sleep 8 hours
We know that sometimes it is almost impossible to sleep eight hours if we work and/or study, we have obligations to attend to, tupperware to prepare, washing machines to lay out and, in addition, we want to have time to socialize and rest. However, sleep is essential for the body to rest and recover energy for the next day. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep regularly also reduces stress. In addition, you should also pay attention to the quality of sleep, the condition of the mattress and the environment in which you normally sleep.
10. Drink lots of water
Hydration is key for our body to function properly. Our body is made up of 70% water, so drinking regularly throughout the day allows us to eliminate toxins and improve the functioning of our organs, among other things. The ideal is to drink between 1.5 and 3 liters of water a day. Remember that you can also drink tea and infusions. Also, keep in mind that if you play sports you will have to compensate for the liquids lost during exercise.