10 Habits That Will Keep You Fit Forever
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy. It’s not something you figure out once and forget about. It requires an immense amount of discipline, adaptability, and patience, spread over years and years of everyday life. As you get older, maintaining your level of health and fitness gets trickier.
Things will change with time, so be ready to adapt. These 10 habits will give you a baseline, and hopefully keep you fit forever.
1. Stick to a solid sleeping schedule
Don’t underestimate the importance of getting a good night’s rest. Sleep is when your body recovers — whether it’s from exercise, stress, or something else entirely. Getting a solid amount of sleep every night has been linked to higher productivity, increased ability in the gym, and higher levels of mental activity. In short, sleep is important.
2. Follow an easy morning routine
The morning — or whenever you wake up — may be the most important part of your day. That’s why you need to develop a routine, keep it, and use it as a springboard to set you off for another round of victories, says Mark’s Daily Apple.
A morning routine can be simple — shower, eat a healthy breakfast, make your bed, and you’re off. Maybe mix in some meditation.
3. Drop the sugar
Sugar is linked to all kinds of negative outcomes. Your best bet is to kick the habit now and never look back. Start drinking your coffee black, your tea without any sweetener, and opt for a piece of fruit instead of having a bowl of ice cream or reaching for a Snickers.
4. Concentrate on your diet
Many of us struggle to control our diet, but one easy way to do so is to concentrate on the things we eat. That is, centralize your diet around a select group of foods, and only occasionally stray from your plan. U.S. News & World Report suggests constructing a diet that’s vegetable-based — not necessarily vegetarian or vegan, but heavy on the greens — and not so dependent on meats, breads, and fats.
5. Cook more often
Ever wonder why it’s so hard to stick to a diet when you’re eating out or relying on packaged foods to get you through the day? It’s because you aren’t in control of what goes into your food. The best way to combat this healthy eating barrier is to prepare as many of your own meals as possible. According to the journal Public Health Nutrition, eating more home-cooked meals increases your likelihood of a higher-quality diet. You might even lose weight. The only “additives” in meals you prepare are the ones you add yourself.
6. Find ways to relieve stress
You’re going to need to find a way to decompress, or blow off some steam. Some like to go to the shooting range or play pickup basketball or soccer. A great habit to get into is weight lifting or running to relieve stress. Other fantastic, stress-relieving habits to pick up are meditation and yoga.
7. Sit less, move more
If your job involves sitting for 90% of your workday, you could be damaging your health without even knowing it. According to Mayo Clinic, sitting too much increases your risk for a number of conditions, especially heart disease. Even if you exercise for 30 minutes every day, spending the next eight hours or more just sitting at a desk mean those 30 minutes of fitness almost don’t count.
Ideally, you should get up and walk a few hundred steps at least every hour (it only takes a few minutes!).
8. Drink more water
Not drinking enough water can lead to mental and physical fatigue. Research also suggests drinking more water throughout the day can help you lose weight. Many people often confuse hunger and thirst, and end up eating more than they need to because they reach for food instead of a glass of water.
9. Spend time outdoors
Going outside is better for your overall health than you thought. Rodale’s Organic Life notes spending time outdoors can help improve your concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase your vitamin D intake. A little fresh air, even for 15 minutes, can have a huge impact on your mood and pull you away from the stress and noise of the cramped indoors.
10. Learn to love exercise
Finally, you’ll need to exercise. And learn to love it. You may be a runner, lifter, swimmer, or hiker. Regardless, it’s important to develop a love for physical activity, and to make it a mainstay in your life in some form or another. No matter what it is, you’ll want to get “addicted” to some kind of physical activity.
In the long run, you’ll set yourself up for success. Just teach yourself to view exercise and the rest of these habits as simple parts of your day; something you enjoy rather than a chore to be completed.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger
Additional reporting by Meg Dowell