What are healthy habits? Healthy habits are behaviors that you do regularly and consistently to improve or maintain your physical and mental well-being. They are actions that support your health goals and enhance your quality of life.
Why are healthy habits important for the body? Healthy habits are important for the body because they help you prevent or manage various diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, depression, and anxiety. They also help you boost your energy, mood, confidence, productivity, creativity, and happiness.
According to a study by Harvard University1Feldscher, K. (2018, July 27). 5 healthy habits may increase life expectancy by decade or more. Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/5-healthy-habits-may-increase-life-expectancy-by-decade-or-more/, people who followed five healthy habits (eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, and drinking moderately) lived more than a decade longer than those who did not follow any of these habits. Another study by Yale University2Levy BR, Slade MD, Kunkel SR, Kasl SV. Longevity increased by positive self-perceptions of aging. J Pers Soc Psychol. 2002 Aug;83(2):261-70. DOI: 10.1037//0022-35188.8.131.521. PMID: 12150226. found that people with a positive view of aging lived 7.5 years longer than those with a negative view of aging.
This article will discuss five healthy habits for the body that can help you improve your physical and mental well-being. These are drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress. We will explain how each habit benefits your body and provide practical tips for implementing them in your daily life.
Table of Contents
Healthy Habit #1: Drink Enough Water
Water is essential for life. It makes up about 60% of your body weight and performs many vital functions in your body. Some of these functions include:
Hydrating your cells, tissues, and organs
Lubricating your joints, eyes, mouth, and nose
Detoxifying your body by flushing out toxins and waste products
Regulating your body temperature, blood pressure, and metabolism
Transporting nutrients and oxygen to your cells
Protecting your brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues
How much water should you drink? The amount of water you need depends on various factors, such as age, weight, activity level, climate, health condition, and medication use. However, a general guideline is to drink at least eight glasses (two liters) of water daily. You may need more water if you exercise intensely, sweat a lot, have a fever or diarrhea, or live in a hot or dry environment.
How can you drink more water? Here are some tips to help you increase your water intake:
Carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go and refill it often
Set reminders on your phone or use an app to track your water consumption
Drink a glass of water before and after each meal and snack
Add some flavor to your water by infusing it with fruits, herbs, or cucumbers
Drink herbal teas, coconut water, or low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks
Eat more water-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, soups, and yogurt
How can you avoid dehydration? To prevent dehydration, you should drink water regularly throughout the day, especially before, during, and after exercise. You should also avoid alcohol, caffeine, and salty foods, as they can dehydrate you. If you experience any symptoms of dehydration, you should drink more water and seek medical attention if they persist or worsen.
Healthy Habit #2: Eat a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet gives your body all the nutrients it needs to function properly. These nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. A balanced diet helps you:
Maintain a healthy weight
Build and repair your muscles, bones, and tissues
Support your immune system and fight infections
Prevent or manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
Enhance your brain function and mental health
What are the main food groups, and how do they contribute to your body’s health? The main food groups are:
Fruits and vegetables: They are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. They help you lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation. They also protect you from various diseases and improve your digestion and skin health. You should eat at least five portions (400 grams) of fruits and vegetables per day4Website, N. (2023, April 4). Why 5 A Day? nhs.uk. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/5-a-day/why-5-a-day/.
Whole grains: They are sources of complex carbohydrates, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and selenium. They help you regulate your blood sugar, lower your cholesterol, and prevent constipation. They also provide you with energy and support your nervous system. You should eat at least three servings (90 grams) of whole grains per day5Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, Fadnes LT, Boffetta P, Greenwood DC, Tonstad S, Vatten LJ, Riboli E, Norat T. Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2016 Jun 14;353:i2716. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i2716. PMID: 27301975; PMCID: PMC4908315.. Examples of whole grains are oats, brown rice, quinoa, barley, and whole wheat bread.
Lean proteins: They are essential for building and repairing your muscles, bones, organs, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. They also help you feel full and satisfied. You should eat at least two servings (50 grams) of lean proteins per day6Rush, T. (2023, June 5). Protein Intake — How Much Protein Should You Eat per Day? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day. Examples of lean proteins are eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat, beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds.
Healthy fats: They are important for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), cushioning your organs, insulating your body, and producing hormones. They also help you lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise your good cholesterol (HDL). You should eat at least one serving (22 grams) of healthy fats per day7Facts about monounsaturated fats: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (n.d.). https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000785.htm. Healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fatty fish.
Dairy products or alternatives: They are sources of calcium, protein, and vitamin D. They help strengthen your bones, teeth, and muscles. They also support your immune system and prevent osteoporosis. You should eat at least two servings (250 ml) of dairy products or alternatives per day8Food-Based Dietary Guidelines in Europe – table 7 | Knowledge for policy. (n.d.). https://knowledge4policy.ec.europa.eu/health-promotion-knowledge-gateway/food-based-dietary-guidelines-europe-table-7_en. Examples of dairy products are milk, yogurt, cheese, and butter. Examples of alternatives are soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, and fortified cereals.
What are some foods to avoid or limit, and why are they harmful to the body? Some foods to avoid or limit are:
Added sugars: They are empty calories that provide no nutritional value. They can cause weight gain, tooth decay, diabetes, heart disease, and mood swings. You should limit your intake of added sugars to less than 10% of your total energy intake. This is equivalent to 50 grams or 12 teaspoons for an adult. Examples of added sugars are table sugar, honey, syrup, candy, chocolate, soda, juice, and baked goods.
Saturated fats: They are fats that are solid at room temperature. They can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase your heart disease and stroke risk. You should limit your intake of saturated fats to less than 10% of your total energy intake. This is equivalent to 22 grams or five teaspoons for an adult. Saturated fats include cheese, cream, lard, coconut oil, palm oil, and fatty meats.
Trans fats: They are artificially created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils. They can raise your bad cholesterol (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol (HDL). They can also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and inflammation. It would be best to avoid or minimize your intake of trans fats as much as possible. They are often found in processed foods, such as margarine, shortening, baked goods, fried foods, and snacks.
Salt: It is a mineral that helps to balance the fluids in your body and regulate your blood pressure. However, too much salt can cause high blood pressure, water retention, kidney damage, and stroke. You should limit your salt intake to less than 5 grams or one teaspoon daily. You can reduce your salt intake by avoiding or choosing low-sodium versions of processed foods, such as canned foods, sauces, soups, and snacks. You can also use herbs, spices, lemon juice, or vinegar to flavor your food instead of salt.
Alcohol: It is a substance that affects your brain and body in various ways. It can impair your judgment, coordination, memory, and mood. It can also damage your liver, pancreas, heart, and brain. It can increase your risk of accidents, injuries, violence, and addiction. You should limit your intake of alcohol to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. You should also avoid drinking alcohol if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, underage, driving, or taking medication.
Healthy Habit #3: Exercise Regularly
Exercise is any physical activity that makes you move your body and burn calories. Exercise improves your body’s fitness, strength, endurance, and immunity. It also helps you:
Control your weight
Lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar
Prevent or manage chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
Enhance your mood, confidence, and self-esteem
Reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression
Improve your sleep quality and quantity
Boost your brain function and memory
How much exercise should you do? The amount of exercise you need depends on various factors, such as your age, weight, health condition, and fitness goals. However, a general guideline is to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week9Exercise: How much do I need every day? (2023, July 26). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916. It would be best to do some muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Moderate-intensity exercise is when you can talk but not sing while doing it. Vigorous-intensity exercise is when you can only say a few words while doing it.
What are some examples of different types of exercise, and how to choose one that suits your preferences and goals? Some examples of different kinds of exercise are:
Aerobic exercise: It is also known as cardio exercise. It involves rhythmically moving large muscles for a sustained period of time. It increases your heart rate and breathing rate and improves your cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercise includes walking, running, cycling, swimming, dancing, and skipping.
Anaerobic exercise: It is also known as strength or resistance exercise. It involves contracting your muscles against a force or weight for a short period of time. It increases your muscle mass and strength and improves your bone density. Examples of anaerobic exercise are lifting weights, doing push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges.
Flexibility exercise: It involves stretching your muscles and joints to improve their range of motion and prevent injuries. It also helps you relax and reduce stress. Examples of flexibility exercise are yoga, pilates, tai chi, and stretching.
Balance exercise: It involves maintaining or changing your position without falling or losing control. It improves your stability and coordination and prevents falls and fractures. Examples of balance exercises are standing on one leg, walking heel to toe, or using a balance board.
To choose an exercise that suits your preferences and goals, you should consider the following factors:
Your interests: You should choose an exercise that you enjoy and have fun doing it. This will help you stay motivated and consistent with your exercise routine.
Your availability: You should choose an exercise that fits your schedule and budget. You can also find ways to incorporate exercise into your daily activities, such as taking the stairs, walking or cycling to work, or doing household chores.
Your ability: You should choose an exercise that matches your current fitness level and health condition. You can also modify or adapt the exercise to suit your needs and abilities. You should start slowly and gradually increasing your exercise’s intensity, duration, and frequency.
How can you stay motivated and consistent with your exercise routine? Here are some tips to help you stick to your exercise routine:
Set realistic and specific goals: You should set achievable and measurable goals. For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” you can say, “I want to lose 10 pounds in 3 months by exercising 30 minutes a day, five days a week”. You should also track your progress and celebrate your achievements.
Make a plan: You should plan when, where, and how you will exercise. You can also write down your plan or use an app or a calendar to remind you of your plan. It would be best to prepare your equipment, clothes, and snacks in advance.
Find a buddy: You should find someone who shares your goals and interests and who can support you and hold you accountable. You can also join a class or a group that offers social interaction and guidance. You can also challenge or compete with your buddy or group to make it more fun and exciting.
Reward yourself: You should reward yourself for completing your exercise sessions or reaching your goals. You can reward yourself with something that is healthy and enjoyable, such as a massage, a movie, a book, or a new outfit. You should also praise yourself and be proud of yourself for your efforts and achievements.
Sleep is a natural state of rest that allows your body and mind to recover from the day’s activities. Sleep affects your body’s recovery, memory, mood, and performance. It also helps you:
Heal and repair your cells, tissues, and organs
Consolidate and store your information and experiences
Regulate your hormones, appetite, and metabolism
Enhance your creativity, problem-solving, and decision-making skills
Reduce your stress, anxiety, and depression
Boost your immune system and prevent infections
How much sleep do you need? The amount of sleep you need depends on various factors, such as age, lifestyle, health condition, and sleep quality. However, a general guideline is to get about seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults. You may need more sleep if you are sick, stressed, or physically active. You may need less sleep if you are older, sedentary, or have a genetic predisposition.
How can you improve your sleep quality and quantity? Here are some tips to help you sleep better:
Stick to a regular sleep schedule: You should go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays. This will help you establish a natural sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
Create a comfortable sleep environment: You should ensure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. You can use curtains, blinds, earplugs, fans, air conditioners, heaters, mattresses, pillows, blankets, and sheets to create your ideal sleep environment.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and heavy meals before bed: These substances can interfere with your sleep quality by stimulating your nervous system, disrupting your sleep cycles, or causing indigestion. You should avoid consuming them at least three to four hours before bed.
Limit screen time before bed: The blue light emitted by electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, phones, tablets, and e-readers, can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. This can make it harder for you to fall asleep and affect your sleep quality. You should avoid using these devices at least one hour before bed or use blue light-blocking glasses or apps to reduce their impact.
Relax before bed: You should engage in some relaxing activities before bed, such as reading, listening to music, meditating, breathing deeply, or doing yoga. These activities can help calm your mind and body and prepare you for sleep.
Avoid napping during the day: Napping during the day can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. If you feel sleepy during the day, you should try to stay awake by getting some sunlight, moving around, or drinking some water. If you really need to nap, you should limit it to 20 minutes or less and do it before 3 p.m.
Exercise during the day: Exercise can help you improve your physical and mental health and make you feel tired and sleepy at night. However, you should avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it can stimulate your body and keep you awake. You should aim to finish your exercise at least three hours before bed.
Healthy Habit #5: Manage Your Stress
Stress is a natural response of your body and mind to a challenge or a threat. Stress can help you cope with difficult situations and motivate you to perform better. However, too much stress or chronic stress can harm your body and mind in various ways. Stress can affect your body’s hormones, inflammation, and immunity. It can also cause or worsen various physical and mental health problems, such as10Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior. (2023, August 10). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987:
High blood pressure
Irritable bowel syndrome
How can you cope with stress effectively? Here are some tips to help you manage your stress levels:
Identify and avoid or reduce your stressors: You should try to figure out what causes you stress and how you react to it. You should also try to avoid or reduce your exposure to those stressors as much as possible. For example, if traffic makes you stressed, you can try to leave earlier, take a different route, or use public transportation. If work makes you stressed, you can try to prioritize your tasks, delegate some responsibilities, or ask for help.
Change your perspective and attitude: You should try to look at your stressors from a different angle and adopt a more positive and realistic outlook. You should also try to accept the things you cannot change and focus on the things you can control. For example, if you are stressed about an exam, you can see it as an opportunity to learn and improve rather than a threat to your self-worth. You can also try to prepare well for the exam and do your best rather than worry about the outcome.
Practice relaxation techniques and hobbies: You should try to find some activities that can help you calm down and relax your body and mind. These activities can include breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, massage, aromatherapy, music, art, gardening, reading, or any other hobby you enjoy. You should try to do these activities regularly or whenever you feel stressed.
Seek social support and professional help: You should try to talk to someone who can listen to you and understand you. This person can be a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a counselor. You should also try to join a support group or a community that shares your interests or challenges. You should also seek professional help if your stress becomes overwhelming or interferes with your daily functioning.
In conclusion, healthy habits for the body are behaviors that you do regularly and consistently to improve or maintain your physical and mental well-being. They are actions that support your health goals and enhance your quality of life. This article discussed five healthy habits for the body that can help you improve your physical and mental well-being. These are drinking enough water, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress. We explained how each habit benefits your body and provided some practical tips on implementing them in your daily life.
Healthy habits for the body are not only good for your health but also for your happiness. They can help you prevent or manage various diseases, boost your energy, mood, confidence, productivity, creativity, and happiness, and improve your overall well-being. Therefore, you should try to adopt healthy habits for the body as soon as possible and stick to them for the rest of your life.
Here are some frequently asked questions related to healthy habits for the body and their brief answers:
Q: How long does it take to form a healthy habit?
A: There is no definitive answer to this question, as different habits may take different amounts of time and effort to form depending on various factors, such as the complexity of the habit, the motivation of the person, the environment of the person, and the consistency of the person. However, a common rule of thumb is that it takes about 21 days to form a basic habit and about 66 days to form a more complex habit.
Q: How can I break a bad habit?
A: Breaking a bad habit can be challenging but not impossible. Here are some steps that can help you break a bad habit:
Identify and understand your bad habit: You should figure out what triggers your bad habit and what rewards or benefits you get from it. You should also try to understand the negative consequences of your bad habit and how it affects your health and well-being.
Replace your bad habit with a good one: You should try to find a healthier alternative that can provide you with the same or similar rewards or benefits as your bad habit. You should also try to make your bad habits more difficult or unpleasant to do and your good habits more enjoyable.
Monitor and reward your progress: You should try to keep track of your behavior and measure your improvement. You should also try to reward yourself for avoiding your bad habits and doing your good habits. You should also be patient and forgiving with yourself if you slip up or face setbacks.
Q: How can I motivate myself to do healthy habits?
A: Motivation is the drive that makes you do something or achieve something. Motivation can come from within yourself (intrinsic motivation) or from outside yourself (extrinsic motivation). Here are some ways that can help you motivate yourself to do healthy habits:
Set realistic and specific goals: You should set achievable and measurable goals. You should also break down your goals into smaller, more manageable steps and focus on one step at a time.
Visualize your desired outcome: You should imagine how you will look, feel, and act when you achieve your goals. You should also consider the benefits and rewards you will get from doing healthy habits.
Find your inspiration: You should find someone or something that inspires you to do healthy habits. This can be a role model, a mentor, a quote, a book, a song, or anything else that motivates you.
Seek social support and accountability: You should find someone who shares your goals and interests and who can support you and hold you accountable. You can also join a class or a group that offers social interaction and guidance.
Challenge yourself and have fun: You should try to make your healthy habits more fun and exciting by adding some variety, novelty, or competition. You should also try to challenge yourself by setting higher standards or trying new things.
Q: How can I balance my healthy habits with my busy lifestyle?
A: Balancing your healthy habits with your busy lifestyle can be difficult but not impossible. Here are some tips that can help you balance your healthy habits with your busy lifestyle:
Plan ahead and prioritize: You should plan when, where, and how you will do your healthy habits in advance. You should prioritize your tasks and activities and focus on the most important ones.
Make use of small gaps of time: You should try to use any small gaps of time during the day to do some healthy habits. For example, you can drink some water, eat fruit, stretch your muscles, take some deep breaths, or meditate for a few minutes whenever you have a break.
Incorporate healthy habits into your daily routine: You should try to integrate healthy habits into your daily routine so that they become part of your lifestyle. For example, you can drink water as soon as you wake up, eat breakfast before you leave home, walk or cycle to work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, pack a healthy lunch, exercise after work, read before bed, etc.
Be flexible and adaptable: You should try to be flexible and adaptable to any changes or challenges that may occur in your lifestyle. You should also try to find alternative ways to do your healthy habits if you cannot do them as planned. For example, if you cannot go to the gym, you can do some home workouts or online videos instead.
Q: How can I measure the impact of my healthy habits on my body?
A: Measuring the impact of your healthy habits on your body can help you evaluate your progress and improvement. There are various ways that you can measure the impact of your healthy habits on your body, such as:
Using objective indicators: These are quantifiable measures that can show the changes in your body’s health status. Objective indicators include weight, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, heart rate, etc. You can measure these indicators using scales, meters, monitors, tests, or apps.
Using subjective indicators: These qualitative measures can show the changes in your body’s well-being. Examples of subjective indicators are energy level, mood, confidence, satisfaction, happiness, etc. You can measure these indicators using surveys, questionnaires, diaries, or journals.
Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, Fadnes LT, Boffetta P, Greenwood DC, Tonstad S, Vatten LJ, Riboli E, Norat T. Whole grain consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all cause and cause specific mortality: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ. 2016 Jun 14;353:i2716. DOI: 10.1136/bmj.i2716. PMID: 27301975; PMCID: PMC4908315.
Joe Hidayat is a passionate health and weight loss enthusiast dedicated to delivering trustworthy and insightful articles through his blog. With a deep-rooted commitment to helping individuals achieve their wellness goals, Joe combines his expertise and research to provide reliable and informative content that empowers readers on their journey to a healthier, happier life. Join him as he shares the latest insights, tips, and secrets for sustainable weight loss and overall well-being.