7 Simple Strategies to Live a Healthier Life
Living a healthier life is not only essential to our overall well-being — think physical, emotional, social, and spiritual health — it’s also the foundation of our happiness and success. What is more important is your health can be improved by making “simple” lifestyle changes.
When I say “simple” that’s because almost anyone can make some small changes to: get more sleep, drink more water, move more throughout the day, enjoy nature, hang out with family and friends, breathe deeply and clear your mind, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Try implementing 7 Simple Strategies detailed below so you can start to live a healthier life now.
1. Get More Sleep.
Sleep is the foundation of our health. It is vital to every process in our body, touches every aspect of our health, and affects our physical and mental health / functioning. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society: we need to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night (1). How much do you get? Do you need to get more?
Aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, to keep you mind and body healthy. If you struggle to get enough sleep, try to implement one of these changes:
- Go to bed at the same time (PM).
- Limit phones and TV before bed.
- Get up at the same time (AM).
2. Drink More Water.
Drinking water is important for our health and survival. Every cell, tissue, and organ needs water to work properly, and water delivers important nutrients throughout our body. According to the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need to drink about 124 ounces of water (15.5 cups or 3.7 liters), and women need around 92 ounces of water (or 11.5 cups or 2.7 liters) per day (2). How much do you drink? Do you need to drink more?
Aim to drink between 6-8 glasses of water per day, to ensure your body is receiving the hydration it needs. Then start to add more water each day until drinking water becomes a routine and habit.
If you struggle drinking enough water, try to implement one of these changes:
- Start the day with a glass of water.
- Choose water over sugary drinks.
- Opt for water when you eat out.
3. Get More Exercise.
Regular exercise is another key element to live a healthier life. Daily exercise / activity is important to stay in shape, burn calories, support your metabolism, maintain muscle mass as well as reduce stress and tension.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services: we need 75+ minutes of aerobic activity — cardio conditioning for your heart — plus 2-3+ days of anaerobic activity — strength training — per week.
Aim to exercise 15-30 minutes per session, 3-5 times a week, with moderate intensity — cycling, gardening, hiking, lifting weights, mowing the yard, swimming, or walking.
Any activity is better than no activity at all. In fact, sitting too much can negatively impact your health and longevity, even if you get regular physical exercise! Brief bursts of activity — cleaning the house, doing laundry, washing dishes, or other chores — can add up to provide positive health benefits, too.
If you struggle getting enough exercise, try to implement one of these changes:
- Go for a short walk to start the day.
- Get up and move throughout day.
- Find a fun activity to do with friends.
4. Enjoy the Outdoors.
Spending time outdoors in nature can be incredibly beneficial for your health. Let’s be honest. How much time do you spend — sitting down — staring at a screen? On average, how often do you get outside to enjoy nature?
According to the American Psychological Association, spending time connecting to nature — exploring parks, going on hikes or taking walks — and experiencing fresh air and sunshine helps to heal, soothe, and restore us (3).
Aim to spend 1-2 hours a week outside enjoying nature — weather permitting. If that is not possible, even watching nature videos can have a restorative effect (4).
If you are struggling to enjoy nature, try to implement one of these changes:
- Eat your meals outside.
- Go for a hike or ride a bike.
- Garden or plant something
5. Connect with Others.
Connecting with others is a fundamental need. We are wired to connect (5), and our connections impact our physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and longevity. We all need people who love, support, and understand us (like family, friends, colleagues, and partners).
Some research suggests that loneliness — or a lack of social connection — can even be more harmful than obesity, smoking, and other health risks (6).
If you are struggling to connect (or even reconnect) with others, try to implement one of these changes:
- Do a random act of kindness.
- Call, text, or video call someone.
- Volunteer for a cause or project.
6. Practice Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply being aware of your thoughts, feelings, actions, etc. To be more mindful, all you need to do is to slow down, take your time, and focus your mind … on whatever you are doing. There is no need to rush or do too many things at once.
According to Harvard Health, all you need is 5-10 minutes to practice mindfulness, to evoke more calm, gain more clarity, and develop more patience (7). Activities, such as mindful meditation, yoga, and focused breathing, can help provide an emotional lift or help you take a mental break.
If you want to practice being more mindful, try implementing one of these changes:
- Live in the moment.
- Take slow, deep breaths.
- Pay attention and be aware.
7. Eat Healthier Foods.
A healthy diet is essential for better health and nutrition. Making healthy food choices — and eating a more balanced diet — may be one of the most important changes you can make to live a healthier life. According to the World Health Organization, a variety of foods, including fruits/vegetables, whole grains/cereals, and lean proteins comprise a healthy diet (8).
Fruits and vegetables are packed with all sorts of antioxidants, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Whole grains — like brown rice, oats, quinoa, wheat — are healthy sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Lean proteins — like eggs, fish, legumes, meat, and milk — contain essential fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and will help keep you fuller for longer.
If you want to begin to eat more healthy, try implementing one of these changes:
- Eat fewer processed foods.
- Eat less fats, salt, and sugars.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
I know what you may be thinking. “Here we go again! Eat more fruits and vegetables!”
Try one of the following simple tricks.
- Stop buying junk food.
- Do more daily meal prep.
- Try new fruits / vegetables.
- Snack on nuts versus chips.
- Snack on fruit versus candy.
- Add fruit to cereals and yogurt.
- Add fruit to pancakes / waffles.
- Add fruit / veggies to smoothies.
- Add fruit / veggies to chili/soups.
- Drink protein shakes / smoothies.
The 7 Simple Strategies detailed offer you several small choices and changes that you can make to gradually add more and more healthy, sustainable, habits into your daily routine. Your road to live a healthier life starts now.