“Healthy” has a variety of connotations that are hotly debated surrounding longevity, physical appearance, and fitness level, but we can all agree that good health involves physical activity, eating right, taking time for ourselves, spending time with others and rest.
Physical activity is an integral part of keeping our bodies healthy. According to health.gov, consistently staying physically active may increase longevity (remember that you’re adding months to your life as you’re procrastinating your next workout!). In fact, in a study of almost 500 individuals over the course of 12 years, researchers concluded that individuals that exercised for only 15 minutes daily had a lifespan of 3 years longer, and a 4% decreased risk of premature death for every additional 15 minutes they exercised!
Not sure if you trust a singular study? Other medical reviews and journals have similar findings.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine published the results of a study that found that even a small amount of moderate-to-vigorous exercise has its benefits! The review observed a 22% lower risk of early death in individuals exercising less than the recommended 150 minutes per week (approximately 20 minutes for 7 days a week, or 30 minutes for 5 days per week). Individuals who DID meet the recommendations were 28% less likely to experience premature death, and a staggering 35% less likely if they exercised beyond the recommended levels of physical activity!
The International Journal of Epidemiology also published the results of a study, linking vigorous activity to a 5% greater reduction in risk compared to low- or moderate-intensity activities.
Regardless of how you “get moving,” we know it’s vital to your body’s proper functioning. What activities do you enjoy? What motivates you? Some people love to train for triathlons, strength train, yoga, pilates, or run high-intensity intervals (HIIT). Others prefer power walking, gardening or hiking. The choice is up to you!
If you’re home-bound, consider:
- Yoga: Low impact, no equipment required, and can be done anywhere.
- High-Intensity Circuit Training: Circuits are perfect if you’re wanting full body exercise and if you have little or no equipment at home…you can adjust to your needs accordingly.
- Running or Speed-Walking Stairs: If you don’t have stairs, try laps around your yard.
- Strength Training: There are many strength training movements you can perform with just body weight that will get your heart rate going.
If you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, try:
- Mountain Biking: Many places have little-known biking trails that’ll leave you in awe of Mother Nature while simultaneously developing legs of steel.
- Kayaking: Hit the water for a great core and arms workout that’ll leave you refreshed and with an adrenaline high (if you’re hitting whitewater!).
- Hiking: Try different trails to suit your experience and fitness level.
- Running: Rather than beating the same path through your neighborhood, find a nearby trail or take a different route to mix up your routine.
If you’re trying to kick your couch potato butt into gear:
Don’t worry–we’ve all been there before. Consider starting slow and finding a level of consistency before “leveling up.”
- Speed Walking: Speed walking is great for getting your heart rate up, but is easier on your joints than running.
- Bodyweight Exercises: Simple exercises like pushups (or half-push ups), jumping jacks, and other bodyweight exercises can be put together and modified to suit your fitness level.
If you’re looking for support, are new to working out, or have reached a plateau, you should definitely investigate working with a personal trainer. A trainer helps provide expert guidance so that you can prevent injury, meet your fitness goals, hold you accountable and find ways to motivate you.
Fyt (Find Your Trainer) makes it easy to get started. You just answer a few questions to match with the best trainer for your specific goals, personality, and experience, and then book a session! You’ll build a training plan and can do your first workout online (or in person)! You will love working out in the comfort and privacy of your home, and every trainer on Fyt is certified, insured, and background checked.
If you’ve been mulling over whether to hire a personal trainer, they’ll help you reach your fitness goals faster, break through your physical “plateaus,” and challenge your muscles in new ways. But don’t take our word for it. Studies out of UCLA show that individuals who hire a personal trainer double their chance of overall exercise success and body fat percentage reduction, compared to working out alone. Researchers also found that working with a personal trainer increases strength, cardiovascular fitness (heart health), and lean body mass faster and more efficiently than working out alone.
In this age of technology, it’s never been easier to achieve your fitness goals with the help of a certified and vetted personal trainer…no more travel time, competing for space at the germy gym or just wanting undivided attention to help you stay safe and reach your goals most efficiently. Everyone should have the opportunity of personal training tailored to their individual needs (not just celebrities or wealthy people) – anytime and anywhere – and that’s where Fyt comes in.
Eat Right (For You)
Giving your body the nutrients that it needs to thrive is another important factor to staying healthy, but what does “eating right” mean? It seems like every other month a new study comes out telling us what we should or should not be eating. And while fad diets will come and go, most research shows that eating more whole foods and less processed food is good for everyone.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, people should:
- Eat more: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, vegetable oils, beans, nuts, and seeds.
- Eat less: whole milk and other full-fat dairy foods, red meat, processed meats, highly refined and processed grains and sugars and sugary drinks.
That sounds easy enough, but you might be wondering how to get started? Or what if you don’t cook? The good news is that no matter what you are or are not eating, there are online meal services that make it easy to get the food that you want delivered directly to your door. The hard part is weeding through all of your options to find the best one for your individual needs.
We recommend using a resource like MealFinds to help narrow down and compare your options. MealFinds is the only meal service comparison website that allows you to search for and discover new meal services based on your preferences. With 16 dietary filters, including paleo, keto, gluten free, AIP, diabetes-friendly, and more, you can find a list of meal services that will help you get on track and reach your health goals.
Taking as little as 5 minutes a day for yourself can lead to huge health benefits like reducing stress and anxiety, and making you feel happier, both of which lead to a longer life. In fact, happy people live up to 18% longer than those less happy!
Self-care is, according to the dictionary, the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. Here are a few self-care ideas:
- Get a mani/pedi or a massage
- Go to bed early
- Eat lunch outside
- Take up a new hobby
Your self-care routine may look very different from others’, but what’s important is that you make time to reduce anxiety and stress in your life, as they can have drastic and negative health impacts otherwise.
Women suffering from stress/anxiety are up to two times more likely to die from heart disease, stroke, or lung cancer, based on several studies. While another studyechoes the same outcomes for men, with risk of premature death (especially due to cardiovascular issues) up to three times higher for anxious or stressed men.
If you struggle with anxiety or stress, try practicing a self-care routine, finding optimism in little moments, and laughing your worries away.
All day we are bombarded with information, most of which comes from a device like a computer, smart phone, or TV. Stepping away from this noise can have serious benefits on your health–physically and mentally.
Did you know that the blue light from screens can delay the release of melatonin, the chemical that helps induce sleep, increases your alertness, and interferes with your internal clock? Simply turning off screens one hour before you want to sleep can help you get to sleep faster and decreases your risk of depression, heart disease, and diabetes, according to an article by Harvard Health Publishing.
So, what can you do instead of binge-watching your new favorite show? Try reading a book or magazine, journaling, or creating a schedule for the next day.
Another benefit to “unplugging” is the ability and extra time to connect more deeply with friends and family members. One study showed that maintaining healthy social networks can help you live up to 50% longer. Find meaningful ways to connect by:
- Talking, playing, or making something with your kids
- Playing a board game with a friend or significant other
- Going on a walk with someone you’d like to know better
- Catching up with a coworker on their day
Unplugging and getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine can help, too. Healthy Vitamin D intake (via sunlight) and being in nature may improve concentration, mental health, and contribute to greater movement and physical activity, which trickles down to other facets of our physical well-being according to this study.
Sleep is a primary, and often overlooked, habit of good health. It’s crucial for regulating cell function and helping your body and mind to heal (whether or not you’re injured or sick). According to a recent study by Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, longevity is linked to regular sleeping patterns of retiring and arising around the same time each day.
Sleep duration is also a factor, with both excessive and minimal amounts of sleep causing adverse health outcomes.
Sleeping less than 5-7 hours per night is linked to a 12% greater risk of early death,increased inflammation and risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, which are all linked to decreased longevity, according to studies. The opposite also has adverse effects. Sleeping more than 8-9 hours per night can decrease your longevity by up to 38% by the same studies, and is linked to depression, low physical activity, and undiagnosed health conditions.
In short, it’s best to get a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night–no more, no less.
Start wherever you are, and see where you have room to improve. Can you reduce your screen time? Increase your physical activity levels with a new hobby like gardening or cycling? Catch a few more (or a few less) zzzzz’s? Remember…it’s not just doctor’s orders. Your health and longevity are on the line.