Health advice can be complicated, but one thing is simple. Experts at the CDC say that there are 5 key health behaviors that can dramatically reduce your risk for chronic disease. The trouble is, barely 6% of Americans are following them all.
First, you’re probably wondering what these 5 super habits are. Here’s the list:
- Managing your weight
- Sleeping well
- Limiting alcohol
- Not smoking.
Currently more than 98% of Americans engage in at least one of these behaviors, but only 6.3% are fully compliant. It’s a big deal because about half of all adults have at least one chronic condition, and many have two or more.
If you’re serious about your health, take a look at how to join the ranks of the fittest American adults. Small lifestyle changes can add up to a big difference.
- Enjoy yourself. It’s much easier to stick with a workout program if you enjoy what you’re doing. Pick a variety of activities that will hold your interest. Invite a friend along to share the fun so you can encourage each other.
- Train for strength. Increasing your muscles pays off. Your body will burn more calories even when you’re at rest.
- Avoid injuries. If you want to intensify your workouts, do it gradually. That way you’ll be less likely to suffer accidents that could interfere with your plans.
- Consume more produce. Want to eat more food and weigh less? Make vegetables and fruits the majority of your daily diet. Try to eat at least 5 servings a day.
- Focus on whole foods. When you’re grocery shopping, start with the outer aisles of the store. The perimeter is where you’ll usually find foods in their more natural state. Cutting back on chips, cookies, and most frozen foods will help you avoid excess fat, sugar, salt, and additives.
- Eat mindfully. Slow down and savor your meals. Give your body a chance to realize that you’re full.
- Be consistent. Go to bed and rise at about the same time each day. Try to keep on schedule during weekends, holidays, and travel.
- Redo your bedroom. Your environment plays a big role in determining the quality of your sleep. Block out car alarms and stereos with a fan or pink noise machine. Upgrade your mattress and pillows if you’re tossing and turning because your back aches.
- Adjust the light. Darkness helps your brain to become drowsy. Shut off those bright screens on your phone and computer at least an hour before retiring. Turn your alarm clock toward the wall if it has a lighted display.
Quitting Smoking and Limiting Alcohol
- Try again. It often takes more than one attempt to give up smoking or change your drinking behavior. Even if you’ve had a hard time in the past, give yourself another chance. Your next attempt could be the one that succeeds.
- Create substitutes. Figure out your personal triggers, the events and situations that make you reach for a cigarette or a cocktail. Create new habits that will satisfy you without breaking your resolutions.
- Seek support. Let your family and friends know how they can help you make positive changes. They may want to join you. Talk with your doctor about medication and therapies that could reduce your discomfort and help you succeed.
Reduce your risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions by focusing on just 5 behaviors. You’ll enhance your quality of life, and may even live longer.