8 Healthy Habits to Start Feeling Good and Live Better

Feel Good and Live Better: 8 Healthy Habits to Start Today

Eating well and exercising are popular healthy habits to start at the beginning of a new year, and they are always smart choices. Incorporating healthy habits into your daily routine can prevent high blood pressure, boost your immune system, and reduce your risk of heart disease and other conditions. Don’t wait until Monday, the first of the month, or your birthday to make changes that can improve your overall health. Start today with these tips from Carson Tahoe Health.

1. Drink More Water

Healthy Habit: Drink More Water

Research shows making a new behavior a habit can take 10 weeks. So be patient with the process. The first step is to decide on a specific goal, such as drinking at least 64 ounces of water. Next, decide on an action you can do every day that achieves the goal: Drink water from an insulated cup you refill eight times.

Then, set a place and time to do the action. For example, drink a glass of water before you have coffee, before or with each meal, with your afternoon snack, while you cook dinner, and when you sit down to watch TV. Voila! Every time you are in that place and time, do the action.

Save calories and limit added sugars when you switch to water as your primary beverage. Drinking water improves your skin, helps regulate body temperature, and aids digestion. Staying hydrated also protects your joints.

2. Eat Well for Overall Health

Healthy Habit of Eating Well

Looking at food as fuel is one of the top healthy habits to start. As you make changes to your diet, increase the variety of foods that promote health and reduce those that work against you, such as foods high in sodium, saturated fat, and added sugars. Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, a fourth with lean protein, and the remainder with whole grains or starchy vegetables.

3. Floss Your Teeth Every Day

In addition to brushing your teeth in the morning and evening, commit to flossing, as well. Cleaning between your teeth with floss is critical to getting rid of residual food and plaque that may go unnoticed by your brush. Regular flossing lowers your risk of gum disease and makes your mouth feel extra fresh. 

4. Get Moving

Regular exercise is good for your mental health as well as your body. As the weather allows, spend time in nature, which can reduce stress. Outdoors or indoors, get your heart pumping by doing moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, pickleball, or swimming, for 30 minutes, five days a week. Add in two sessions of strength training, such as doing pushups and situps or lifting weights.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

The time between falling asleep and waking is essential to your long-term health. Adequate sleep supports a healthy weight, and people who sleep enough get sick less often. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night to improve mood and reduce stress, think clearly, get along with others, drive safely, make sound decisions, and reduce their risk for diabetes and heart disease. Try sleeping and waking at the same time every day to improve your sleep quality. Keep your room cool, dark, and free of electronic distractions, such as a TV, computer, or phone.

6. Don’t Smoke (Take Steps to Quit)

Sometimes a new healthy habit is letting go of an existing and harmful habit, such as smoking. The health benefits of kicking this habit begin almost immediately and can improve respiratory and heart health. Just 12 hours after your last cigarette, the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood returns to levels of a nonsmoker. No matter how long you have smoked, it’s not too late to sign up for smoking cessation classes and quit today.

7. Protect Your Skin

Protecting your skin before leaving the house each day is a healthy habit to establish, even when the sun’s not out. Ultraviolet rays that cause most skin cancers are present throughout the calendar year. They reflect off snow and water and can damage your skin on cloudy and cool days. Stay in the shade or under an umbrella when you can. You are also exposed to the same type of light and risk when you use sun lamps or tanning beds, so avoid them at all costs. Wear sunscreen daily with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher on any exposed skin. Wearing a hat and sunglasses offers additional protection.

8. Study Your Family Health History

Finally, learning your family health history is vital because certain health conditions run in families. Collecting your family health history may be a lifelong pursuit because that history is constantly changing. With regularity, ask your relatives:

  • Do they have chronic health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes?
  • Have they or any other relatives had cancer or a stroke? If so, at what age did they develop the condition?
  • Do they know which family members have died of illness?

Knowing and sharing your family health history with your medical provider can offer valuable insight into your health. Depending on the answers, you may be considered at higher-than-average risk and benefit from earlier screening or genetic testing.

Find a primary care provider who can determine your health risks and develop a strategy for long-term health.