Effects of Living a Healthy Lifestyle & 12 Tips to Be Healthier

Healthy Lifestyle
Photo by Nattu Adnan on Unsplash

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can seem challenging at times, but it doesn’t have to be as complex or time-consuming as we might think. By prioritizing small and flexible changes, we can take control of our lives, better our mood, have a longer life and even spend less money.

So, with these 12 simple tips, we arm ourselves with some of the very best tools we need to live a healthier lifestyle and begin reaping the rewards.

What Is a Healthy Lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is not merely the absence of disease, but a way of living that maximizes our physical, social and mental well-being. Some diseases are unavoidable of course, but living a healthy lifestyle is the most effective tool we have for reducing our risk of preventable disease and living longer.

There are many aspects to living a healthy lifestyle, but they tend to fall into four categories:

  • Healthy Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Avoiding Drugs, Smoking & Alcohol
  • Maintaining Positive Mental Well-being

We hope our 12 tips will inspire you and help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

Benefits Of a Healthy Lifestyle

On top of the lower risk of preventable diseases, a healthy lifestyle will also improve our overall physical and mental well-being in a variety of ways. This is the fun part, where we enjoy all the benefits of our hard work.

Assume Control Of Your Life

Implementing healthy lifestyle interventions is one of the best ways we can take back control of our life. By consciously making everyday choices that positively impact our well-being, we tell ourselves that we care about what happens to us! The importance of this cannot be understated.

Better Mental Health and Mood

One of the most prominent benefits of living a healthy lifestyle is improved mental health and mood. Without positive mental health, physical interventions can sometimes prove fruitless so it is key we stay on top of our mental well-being.

Features of a healthy lifestyle, such as exercise, are proven to increase our levels of mood-boosting hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.

Have a Longer Life

Practising healthy lifestyle habits reduces your risk of preventable diseases and allows your body to fight those signs of ageing. Although genes are often associated with life expectancy, in actual fact it is largely up to us and the choices we make. According to Harvard University:

“During the first 75 years of life, genes have a relatively small influence on longevity, accounting for only 20% to 25% of the reasons that you make it to that age. Not smoking, eating healthfully, getting plenty of exercise, and limiting alcohol matter the most.

Improve Your Immune System

Simply put, the immune system is our defense against illness. When it is doing its job well, we shouldn’t ever know it is there – however if it becomes weak, we are vulnerable to all kinds of illness and disease. Lower stress levels, healthy diet and exercise all contribute to a healthy, functioning immune system, so by ensuring we are on top of our healthy lifestyle game, we can protect ourselves from preventable illness and improve our quality of life. Find out about the Twenty Best Foods to Boost Your Immune System.

Spend Less Money

Living a healthy lifestyle can often seem expensive. However, when kept simple, a whole food plant-based diet is almost always cheaper than buying animal products. Whole foods like fruits, vegetables and grains are often cheaper than meat and fish, and reducing our meat and dairy consumption also has incredible benefits for our health. Getting rid of those expensive vices like smoking and drinking alcohol are also a huge money-saver.

Boost Your Energy

Low energy levels can be an indicator of an unhealthy lifestyle. It could be that our diet is not providing us with healthy, slow-release energy or that alcohol and tobacco are dampening our energy levels. Key changes to boost energy could include establishing a new morning routine, changing our breakfast, cutting out a vice or even making time for healthy sexual behaviors!

One easy and impactful change is introducing overnight oats to your morning routine – it can be packed with healthy nuts, seeds and fruits and gives you something delicious to jump out of bed for. Here’s a great recipe.

How To Live a Healthy Lifestyle

All of this can seem a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. A healthy lifestyle can be achieved at your own pace, with small, flexible changes. You might already have all the tools you need, it’s just about changing the way you use them.

Go Slow

Going at your own pace might be one of the most important things we can do to achieve a healthy lifestyle. Everybody is different and the standards set by social media and others around you can often pile on the pressure to achieve everything at once.

So, why not try choosing one or two of the tips in this article that are relevant to you, and set goals relating to them for the next month. For example, you could try a 31-day vegan challenge and see how this benefits your body and mind. If this seems too much, try doing it whilst keeping just one of your favorite animal products in your diet. If one month is too scary, then why not try 7 days?

It’s up to you, but remember that it is your journey and nobody else’s, so find a pace that is sustainable for you.

Go Small

Small changes over a longer period of time are often more effective than big changes all at once, and can lead to a sustainable long-term habit. When going vegan for example, it can take up to a month to build and acclimatize to all the dietary habits you want to incorporate. A positive approach could be to keep one or two animal products that you like for the first month, then begin to phase those out once the core of your good habit has been built.

Go Flexible

Being flexible with yourself is key to building healthy habits. For example, if the goal is to cut out processed foods from your diet, then try cutting it Monday to Friday first before opting for the full seven days a week. You just might find your new health habit sticks!

Caroline Ceniza-Levine from Forbes says: “Follow-through is about discipline and sticking to a plan but it’s also about flexibility to adapt to conditions that are best for the ultimate goal.”

Go On What You Already Have

It may be we already have a healthy lifestyle habit that we are just underusing, and often we are not giving ourselves the credit we deserve. Try making a list of all the things you already do that make you feel good and build on them slowly!

12 Tips For a Healthier Lifestyle

So what are our 12 key tips for a healthier lifestyle?

Avoid High-risk Behaviors

Avoiding high-risk behaviors will prevent unnecessary injury and illness, resulting in positive physical health outcomes. This can be anything from substance use, to driving too fast, to consuming unhealthy foods. Consuming alcohol and drugs is a major cause for increases in high-risk behaviors, so reducing these is an effective way of managing our risk. Taking steps to reduce risk can also make us feel empowered and responsible, leading to further positive interventions in our life.

It can help to make a list of any behaviors in our life that classify as higher risk and assess whether they are worth keeping. More often than not, they aren’t.

Control Body Weight

Controlling our body weight is essential for fighting the majority of preventable diseases. Obesity is heavily linked to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes and more, all of which are prominent causes of early death in the US. So it is really important to control body weight as part of our healthy lifestyle.

The key to losing weight, and keeping that weight off is sustainability, so a quick fix, weight-crash diet does us no favors in the long run. For so many people, a plant-based diet offers a healthy, sustainable way to lose weight.

Studies show that vegetarians and vegans have the lowest BMI and can maintain this, whilst still eating the same portion sizes they did before they changed their diet. Further study shows that when compared to the Mediterranean diet, the diet considered most effective for weight loss – those on a plant-based diet lost around 7 pounds more fat mass.

Finally, it is important to remember that genes and hormones play a part in our physical attributes, so try to understand your body type and identify areas of your body it may be more natural to have excess weight and which areas it is healthy to lose weight from.

Controlled Time Of Use Of Technologies

Whilst it may not be possible in the modern world to live without technology, it is important to control the amount of time we spend on it, as over using it can have negative effects. Project Happiness gives an excellent overview of why we should all be reducing our technology use. They cite 7 reasons why:

  1. High social media use can lead to increased narcissism
  2. There are strong links between high social media use and loneliness
  3. Hand ailments such as carpal tunnel syndrome are common in high tech users.
  4. Poor posture is often related with long desk hours, resulting in ailments like back pain.
  5. Screens are bad for your eyes!
  6. Technology can create barriers in relationships
  7. Screen time, particularly before bed has drastic impacts on sleep quality.

Do Physical Activity

Physical activity can even ward off depression. Research suggests that exercise often performs better than antidepressants when it comes to boosting mood-lifting chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine.

Research shows that as little as 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise a day can have drastic effects on our physical and mental well-being. Find something you enjoy doing that can be incorporated into your daily routine and before you know it 30 minutes a day will be a breeze.

Limit Sitting

Research shows that sitting down for long periods is not good for us, and is associated with
higher rates of heart and circulatory diseases, and diabetes. If you’re at a desk all day, try setting an alarm and standing up for a few minutes every hour. If you can walk while reading emails or stand in meetings that’s all to the good. And beware of sitting in front of the television all evening, too. Can you go out for a walk instead?

Don’t Smoke and Don’t Do Drugs

Smoking is related to a number of preventable diseases and to around one in five deaths in the US. According to the CDC, smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). It also significantly increases our chances of immune system issues, eye problems and arthritic diseases.

Simply put, smoking isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle and beyond the immediate health implications, it will make achieving any other health goals we have much more difficult.

Drugs are a more complex and diverse issue, as their effects range depending on the drug. However, taking drugs can lead to a sharp increase in high-risk behaviors, as well as often resulting in short & long term negative health outcomes. Risks to mental health are high and physical ailments are also common.

Get a Healthy Diet

There is a lot of debate about what constitutes a healthy diet and often it depends on the individual. However, we can give ourselves the best chance at a healthy lifestyle by adopting a whole food plant-based diet (WFPB) as a starting point.

Research shows that plant-based diets can lower blood pressure, cholesterol and Body Mass Index. So as a treatment for chronic diseases they are effective, but they are also an extremely effective preventative measure against future health issues.

A well planned, WFPB diet is the only diet proven to reverse our biggest killers, such as heart disease. Other benefits of eating mostly plants include:

  • Boosted immunity
  • Reduced risk of diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Increased energy levels

It is important to mention here that although the WFPB diet is very effective, diet is also hugely individual, so it is important to keep an eye on your nutrient profile and ensure you have healthy levels of essential vitamins, such as b12, vitamin D, calcium and zinc. Follow our plant based nutrient guide for all the info you need on meeting your nutritional requirements.

Healthy Sexual Behavior

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, sexual health includes emotional, psychological and physical dimensions.

Communication is key to healthy sexual behaviors. Making sure others are aware of our needs and concerns, as well as the practicalities of factors such as contraception, minimises many risks associated with sexual activity. Incorporating healthy sexual experiences into our lives can also result in astonishing benefits for our mental and physical well-being. The Center for Women’s Health cites everything from lower blood pressure, better immunity and heart health to better sleep and reductions in both stress and anxiety.

Keeping Studying

Learning is key to a healthy lifestyle. By continuing to learn new skills and broaden our knowledge, we enjoy all the neurological benefits and arm ourselves with the best tools for extracting the most out of life.

Studies show that building new neural pathways through learning skills can ward off cognitive ageing, thereby reducing our risk of dementia and alzheimers. So, why not take up photography, quilting or learn a new language?

Reduce Alcohol Intake

Alcohol is a leading cause of preventable death in the US and is associated with a number of high-risk behaviors. It can also affect our mental well-being and relationships. Although alcohol consumed rarely and in small quantities can be part of a healthy lifestyle, reducing our intake may result in some positive health outcomes:

  • Healthy liver function
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced cancer risk
  • Weight loss
  • Better sleep
  • Boosted brain power!

Take Time For Recreation

Taking leisure time, particularly in nature, can have immediate benefits for our stress levels. Research shows that communing with nature is one of the most effective ways of improving our health and wellbeing By taking time for recreation, we reduce stress related health risks and enjoy other benefits, such as improved relationships with family and friends and better physical health.

Studies also show that the more mentally engaging our recreational activity is, the more effective it can be on our stress levels!

Weight Loss

There is no fixed approach to weight loss, but the most effective one is often built on the two pillars of diet and exercise.

Following a plant-based diet has been proven to be the most effective way of losing weight, and keeping that weight off. Our 31-day vegan challenge is a great way to find out for yourself!

Exercising definitely helps. Significant weight loss has been proven to occur across all intensities of exercise, if conducted every day. Everything from walking to sprinting to swimming will contribute to your weight-loss goals.

Find out more about how a plant-based diet can help with weight loss and take inspiration from these incredible people who transformed their lives with a whole food plant-based diet.

Conclusion

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, but by going slow and small, with effective changes, we can all begin enjoying the benefits of a healthier life. Some of the world’s biggest killers, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes are preventable with a healthy lifestyle.

Overall, reducing high-risk behaviors by avoiding harmful products and activities like smoking, drinking alcohol and taking drugs is key. Eating a plant based diet, complemented by 30 minutes of daily exercise, is also one of the most effective combinations when it comes to reducing our risk of preventable diseases.

Positive mental health and well-being can be just as key as physical health, so engaging in healthy sexual behaviors, reducing our technology time and prioritizing recreation are all key parts of finding that healthy lifestyle we deserve.

Most importantly, your journey to a healthier lifestyle is yours and yours alone, so go at your own pace, set yourself achievable and flexible goals and remember to enjoy yourself along the way!

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