Habits Worth Adopting
Research just released by the British Medical Journal highlights 5 factors that are associated with a longer life free of major chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer (1).
1. Not smoking
2. Having a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9
3. Engaging in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 30 minutes a day
4. Having moderate alcohol intake
5. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of vegetables, plant protein and essential fats
When it comes to adopting new habits there are many to choose from and some are harder than others to get to grips with. It’s worth choosing those that have a big pay off in terms of health and well being. Here are 10 suggestions for habits that are fairly easy to implement and have noticeable benefits.
1. Get a good night’s sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours a night. Decide what time you need to get to bed in order to achieve this and stick to it.
2. Exercise most days – doing some physical activity most days of the week has many benefits to physical and mental health. It doesn’t need to be loads; 150 minutes a week of moderate activity seems to be the optimum amount – this equates to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. It’s fine to break up the 30 minutes into three 10 minute bouts if that is easier.
3. Get off your butt – sitting down for hours without getting up is damaging to the body. Get up from your seat regularly, walk around or stretch. Take phone calls standing up. Make excuses to get up and walk around throughout the day, especially if your job is sedentary.
4. Keep the brain active. Reading every day is a good place to start. Learning something new is excellent for the brain – consider learning a language, an instrument or a new skill.
5. Aim to drink 2 litres a day of water, vegetable juice or herbal teas. Ideally drink them between meals.
6. Have time away from your phone and other devices, especially in the evenings before bed time. Leave phones and devices out of the bedroom.
7. Meditate or engage in some form of relaxation every day. Even just 10 minutes a day can help keep things in perspective. Daily gratitude is also proven to have many benefits.
8. Hang out with people who do the things you are aiming to do. It’s much easier to adopt habits that are the norm in your social circles.
9. Eat vegetables every day – aim for 5 different veg, preferably of different colours to maximise your anti-oxidant intake.
10. Avoid sugar and heavily processed foods. Cook from scratch when possible.
For help with starting new habits see the blog post on New Year, New Thinking to find out about how change starts with self-acceptance and reframing what you want to achieve. The blog post on Tips for Changing Habits gives tips on how to go about adopting new habits.
1. Yanping Li et al. Healthy lifestyle and life expectancy free of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: prospective cohort study. BMJ 08 January 2020: 368