When we’re young, we believe that we have all of the time in the world to achieve our career goals, travel the world, and settle down and start a family. However, the lifestyle that we live today has a bigger impact on how we’ll fare in later life than most people realize.
A healthy lifestyle goes beyond eating healthy and exercising regularly. It also includes getting enough sleep every night, abstaining from bad habits, and focusing on your mental health.
Everyone is different, so one person’s version of a healthy lifestyle won’t look exactly the same as another’s. However, everyone (both younger and older) can benefit from following these four tips.
1. Bad Habits
It’s safe to say that everyone has at least one bad habit, whether it’s nail biting, procrastinating, shopping excessively. However, certain bad habits are more detrimental to health than others— and can cause health problems both immediately and in later life.
Smoking cigarettes is probably the most common habit that’s detrimental to health that people engage in. Of course cigarette smokers know how dangerous this habit is, but it’s a habit that can be extremely hard to quit. Close to 90% of lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes, and 30% of heart disease is caused by smoking. Smoking usually presents problems as time goes on, but the good news is that it’s never too late to quit.
• Overexposure to the Sun
The sun is actually good for both mental and physical health, but too much sun can cause problems— especially for those who don’t wear and reapply sunscreen. Even overexposure with sunscreen can start to become dangerous, as is excessive tanning in tanning beds. Try to stay out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day (usually between 10:00 A.M. and 3:00 P.M.), use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 (and reapply often), and stay in the shade when possible.
• Drinking too Much Alcohol
Drinking once or twice a week isn’t detrimental to health. In fact, drinking one glass of wine a day (for women; two glasses for men) is considered drinking in moderation. Drinking becomes problematic when you overdrink on a regular basis because it can damage your liver, and in some cases, cause liver cancer and cancer of the mouth. Excessive drinking can also lead to high blood pressure.
The majority of people know that eating healthy can prevent a lot of problems later in life, but like the bad habits listed above, bad eating habits can be hard to break. Also, everyone’s dietary needs differ, so there’s no one perfect diet. Still, here’s how poor nutrition can result in health problems later on.
• Heart Disease and Stroke
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two of the main contributors to heart diseases and stroke, and these two conditions themselves are usually caused by poor eating. Sugar, salt, saturated fats, red meat, sodas, fried foods, and processed foods are some of the things that contribute to heart disease and stroke.
This is a condition in which the bones lose their density and become brittle. Osteoporosis affects more women than men, and is one of the main reasons why older adults are more prone to bone fractures and breaks. According to NHLC These fractures and breaks can occur from a fall— whether it’s an accidental fall in the home or while out, or an intentional fall resulting from elder abuse. The best way to strengthen the bones is to eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
• Type 2 Diabetes
This type of diabetes is when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or resists insulin altogether. While type 2 diabetes is still more prevalent in adults, it’s also becoming more common in children. Many of the same foods that cause heart disease and stroke also cause type 2 diabetes. This is why it’s important to focus more on unsaturated fats, whole grains, leafy greens, and whole fruit.
3. Physical Activity
New studies are showing that being sedentary (inactive) is just as bad as smoking, if not worse. It is recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, which can be broken down into 30 minutes a day for five days out of the week. This can seem like a lot and even be intimidating for many people, but the good news is that physical activity doesn’t necessarily have to be vigorous exercise. You can do meditation that helps you relax and keeps you fit.
Some examples of physical activity include:
4. Sleeping Patterns
Sleep is one of the foundations of a healthy lifestyle. Life and sleep are inextricably linked. Sleep disturbances have a number of social, psychological, financial, and health implications. Sleep has a definite impact on wellbeing, and lifestyle has an impact on sleep. At the minimum, adults need at least seven hours of sleep to function. Unfortunately, many adults run on five and even four hours of sleep each night, which can have detrimental effects later on. Inadequate sleep can affect judgment and emotions, and it can also lead to mental health problems such as depression. It can also lead to diabetes and heart disease later on in life. Again, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep, whereas:
- Teens need 8-10 hours
- School-aged children need 9-12 hours
- Preschoolers and toddlers need 11-13 hours (including naps)
- Babies need 12-16 hours (including naps)
- Newborn babies need 14-17 hours
A good night’s sleep doesn’t just depend on the amount of hours, but also the quality of sleep. Certain environmental conditions and sleep disorders can prevent this, so talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble sleeping.
It’s never too late to switch over to a healthier lifestyle. Just make sure you consult with a healthcare professional before making any major changes.