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4 Habits for a Healthier You

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Achieving a healthy lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and discipline to form good practices that can lead to long-term benefits. There are four critical habits every adult should implement in order to live a happy, healthy life: resting, exercising, eating more veggies and learning to say “no.”


We live in a fast-paced society that’s known for overdoing it. But the consequences of not getting enough rest are revealed in our health. Whatever is keeping you from sleeping at night — whether it’s work, watching TV or staying up late checking social media — poor sleep habits throw off your eating schedule and diet and wreak havoc on your motivation and fitness routine.

The National Institutes of Health recommends adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Missing even an hour of sleep at night can result in fatigue, reduced immunity, memory problems, weight gain and increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. If you’re too busy to get the recommended dose of sleep each night then it’s time to take a critical look at your schedule and decide what needs to go. Your health depends on it.


This might be one of the most difficult habits to form, but it can also be one of the most beneficial. Being physically active isn’t just about weight loss. Regular exercise is important to prevent heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers in the United States.

For better heart health, the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Thirty minutes a day, five days a week of moderate cardio exercise. If your schedule is too packed to set aside 30 minutes for exercise, break it into two or three 10- to 15-minute segments per day. To lower blood pressure and cholesterol, the AHA recommends 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise three to four times a week.

Yes, you can take the stairs instead of the elevator and carry the groceries from the store instead of using the cart, but these daily tasks shouldn’t define your exercise routine. Get into the habit of taking time for true aerobic (cardio) exercise, whether it’s going for a 30-minute brisk walk each morning, riding your bike, jogging, swimming or joining a cardio class at your gym.

Eating Veggies at Every Meal.

Sneaking vegetables into every meal isn’t as tricky as it seems. Adults should be eating at least nine servings of vegetables every day for a healthful, nutrient-dense diet. Vegetables are low in fat and calories and contain many essential nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid) and vitamins. Eating a diet rich in vegetables may lower your risk of heart disease, protect against certain types of cancer, decrease bone loss and reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

To get more veggies in your diet, start with breakfast. If you’re making scrambled eggs, toss in some spinach and chopped peppers and onions. For lunch, choose a salad to go with your sandwich, rather than a bag of chips. For a snack, toss spinach in the blender along with fresh fruit and some Greek yogurt for a healthy smoothie. At dinnertime, use veggies as substitutes for some of the staples. For example, spiralize vegetables into noodles as a sub for egg or wheat noodles in any pasta dish. Try cooking veggies a variety of ways (roasted, steamed, mashed) until you find what you and your family members enjoy.

Saying No.

Learning to say “no” isn’t about depriving yourself of the finer things in life; it’s about finding balance. Every day should not be a “cheat day.” Knowing when to say no to a dinner invite because you know you’ll overeat, or holding off on the add-ons, splurges and activities that might put a strain on your positive habits are important for a healthy lifestyle.

Learning the habit of self-control isn’t only about food. The ability to say no can help you find balance in every aspect of your life, helping you to avoid packing your schedule so full you don’t have time to rest, exercise or spend time with loved ones. Excess in any area of your life — be it work or eating habits — can increase your stress level, which only results in a downward spiral toward poor habits and poor health.

Do you struggle when it comes to forming good habits? Here are a few tips to help you form habits that will stick.

  • First, while it’s important to “dream big,” those big goals must be broken down into smaller, achievable steps or tasks — approachable “quotas,” so to speak — that help make your goals more achievable. Learn to visualize the end result. If you want to form better eating and exercise habits to lose weight, visualize you reaching your goal weight.
  • Next, create “behavior chains” that allow you to work your new habits into your daily routine, rather than fighting against your regular routine. Consider your daily routine and build another “link in the chain” with your new habit. Rather than saying “I will workout today,” say “I will come home from work, change clothes, put on my sneakers and go for a 30-minute jog around the neighborhood.”
  • Find accountability. Having a buddy to form new habits alongside you will give you the accountability and motivation needed to keep going when you’d rather give up. Challenge a friend to see who can eat the most servings of vegetables in a day. Find a buddy to start working out with you. Share your goals with those you love and ask them to check in on you from time to time to see how you’re doing in forming new, healthier habits.

A healthy lifestyle isn’t complicated, but it does take discipline. Start by making one change at a time. Once you’ve established a new habit (that means being able to do it consistently for one month), start working on the next habit. Before you know it, you’ll transform your lifestyle into one that’s markedly healthier.