Along your journey, you’ve probably heard the term "healthy living" more times than you can count—including here at SparkPeople. You may have a general idea of what it means: Something along the lines of eating better foods, exercising more often, seeing your doctor regularly and taking better overall care of your body. But what does that look like on a day-to-day basis? What specific habits constitute a healthy lifestyle?
The answer is different for everyone, of course. Your list would surely be different than your co-worker’s, neighbor’s or favorite SparkFriend’s list. But maybe yours is still incomplete, or not even started yet. Sometimes the best motivation is some inspiration. To help get you started, we collected 100 healthy habits from members, friends and co-workers. Maybe some of these will fit nicely into your daily routine or could serve as a springboard to other ideas.
- Brush your teeth after dinner and you’ll be less likely to be tempted to snack before bed.
- Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.
- Plan your meals in advance. It seems obvious, but so important that it’s always worth repeating.
- Always include a serving of veggies with every meal.
- Pack a lunch every day, whenever possible.
- Say no to soda. You know it’s time.
- Skip the salad dressing. Try lemon juice, lime juice or a drizzle of olive oil as a healthier, alternative.
- Eat less red meat (which has been linked to a higher risk of colon cancer) and more white meat. Or, try embracing a plant-based diet.
- Never grocery shop when you’re hungry. It really does lead to unhealthy impulse purchases.
- Eat an apple a day. Turns out the old adage is famous for a reason. Studies have shown that daily apple noshing can cut down on “bad” cholesterol.
- Instead of reaching for dessert at night, replace it with fresh fruit.
- Skip the salt, or save it for last.
- Eat sandwiches open-faced with just one slice of bread instead of two.
- Add some spice to your life. Spicy foods with hot peppers (capsaicin) could help stave off illness, burn fat and reduce inflammation.
- If you’re not vegan or vegetarian, try going meatless one day a week (or one meal a day).
- Don’t skip breakfast. Studies show that the negative effects outweigh the morning calorie savings.
- Pack or prep your lunch the night before. That extra few minutes in the evening will go a long way toward preventing impulsive, unhealthy splurges the next day.
- Avoid “elimination diets” that call for cutting out entire food groups.
- If you drink alcohol, either regularly or occasionally, cut your consumption in half. If you don’t drink at all, keep up the good work.
- If you like dark chocolate, eat one small piece every day. It will help keep your sweet tooth sated, and could even protect your heart.
- Make a list of things to do when you’re bored that have nothing to do with eating. Use it.
- Every Sunday, write down your workouts in a daily planner for the week ahead.
- Take a long walk between lunch and dinner.
- When stairs are available, always take them. Every burned calorie counts.
- If you’ve lost weight, give away your too-big clothes. Keeping them gives you an excuse to wear them again.
- Work out while you wait. Stuck in a parking lot waiting for the kids? Use the downtime to lunge, squat or lift small dumbbells.
- Rediscover the childhood joy of riding a bike.
- When waiting in line or standing in place, try standing on one foot for 20 seconds and then switch to the other foot. Alternate back and forth, while keeping your core tight. The easy exercise will help improve your balance, abdominal strength and posture.
- Dance! Not only is it great cardio, it’s also conducive to happiness and overall well-being.
- Try to walk two minutes for every hour that you sit. Over a nine-hour day, that’s almost 20 minutes of extra walking outside of your regular exercise.
- Stretch every morning and every night.
- Play a sport. Whether it’s softball, tennis or squash, joining a sports team combines exercise, camaraderie and competition.
- Extend your workouts a little longer on the weekends, when you have a bit more time available. The extra calorie burn can make a difference over the course of a few weeks.
- Create your own custom “rest day” routine. Maybe it includes foam rollers, yoga, a brisk walk, gentle stretching or reading a novel while enjoying a cup of hot tea—whatever works for you.
- When you catch yourself making up excuses for reasons to skip a workout, think about how you’ll feel after completing it, versus how you’ll feel after skipping it.
- Set some goals that have nothing to do with how you look. (Skinny’s got nothing on strong.)
- If you’re only doing cardio, mix in two to three strength training sessions each week. If you’re only doing strength training, sprinkle in some cardio stints.
- Learn to embrace post-exercise muscle soreness. Do not use it as an excuse to skip a workout.
- If you have a dog, walk him every day. If you don’t, volunteer your dog walking services for a local shelter once a month.
Family, Home & Work
- Clean your office space or desk once a week with an antibacterial wipe.
- Complete five things at the beginning of every day to keep things moving. Make a list of those things the night before.
- Play with your pets. They need the TLC, you need the activity—it’s a win-win.
- Spend one-on-one time with someone you love at least once a week.
- Resist the urge to eat at your desk while you work. You’ll be more likely to overeat, and will also miss out on the chance to add physical movement to your day.
- Have dinner as a family—no screens allowed. It won’t seem like a sacrifice with the extra connection you’ll enjoy.
- Stand up while you work whenever possible, or at least take frequent standing/walking breaks if you spend most of the day sitting.
- Try using a standing desk for part of the workday, or sit on an exercise ball to promote good balance, posture and core strength.
- Assign each task a time limit, and do your best to stick with it. This helps prevent sinking way too much time into an insignificant task or failing to devote enough time to the important ones.
- Declutter one small area in your house every weekend. Over time, you’ll be amazed at the difference.
- Add some live plants to your home or office. They’ve been linked to greater creativity and improved air quality.
- Offer forgiveness to someone you’ve been angry with—even if they haven’t asked for it.
- Focus on one task at a time. We’re quick to brag about multi-tasking, but spreading yourself too thin can leave you feeling overwhelmed as you juggle multiple half-done duties.
- If it's going to take less than five minutes to complete a task, get it done right then and there.
- Experiment with essential oils to promote mental sharpness, memory, concentration and relaxation.
- Find a podcast that interests or educates you, and listen during your daily commute.
- Look your loved ones in the eye and give them a hug. It’s easy to get so busy throughout the day that we forget to take a moment, look at each other and make that connection.
- If you find that negative people are derailing your mood on a regular basis, take steps to reduce their presence in your life.
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier every night, and wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning. See if you notice a lift in productivity.
- Keep a window open near your desk to increase fresh air ventilation, or consider using an air purifier.
Mental & Spiritual Health
- When you’re upset about something, ask yourself, "Will this matter a day, a week, a month or a year from now?" In most cases, the answer will be "no," and will help provide some perspective.
- Connect with a sense of spirituality every day, whether that’s through prayer, meditation or some other type of reflection.
- When you feel super stressed, stop what you’re doing and read a book for 10 minutes.
- Walk barefoot outside. The connection to the earth is good for the soul.
- Every day, compliment at least one stranger–on their hair, outfit, smile, whatever it may be. It makes YOU feel good, too. You may be the only person to compliment them that day, and it just might start a chain reaction.
- Try to create as much as you consume. Write a story in addition to reading one, or paint your own watercolor instead of simply admiring someone else’s.
- Rekindle your relationship with an old hobby that you used to love but have been neglecting. Schedule some time each week or month to enjoy it.
- Volunteer. Serving others or the community will provide you with a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Plus, if you choose a physically active way to contribute, you can burn calories while delivering compassion.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note to someone you appreciate.
- Try to plan at least two trips per year. The more active, the better. The change of scenery will do your mind and spirit good.
- If you’re upset or disappointed with a loved one, don’t let the feelings fester. Chances are, an honest conversation will clear things up much faster than you expected.
- Take up a musical instrument. It’s never too early or too late to reap the cognitive benefits.
- Try to find five minutes a day to lay on the floor and relax your mind. Don't think about anything. If you feel your mind chasing after a niggling thought, release that thought and let it float away. Take deep breaths and just enjoy being alive in that moment.
- Keep a “mistake journal.” For each one you record, also include the lesson that came with it.
- Take up crossword puzzles. Not only are they fun, some studies have linked these types of “brain training” puzzles with stronger cognitive health.
- Watch a funny movie or TV show. Laughter really is the best medicine.
- Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down those random thoughts as you fall asleep. You’ll sleep more restfully knowing they’re recorded and won’t be forgotten.
- Stop worrying about things before they’ve happened. If they don’t happen, you’ve worried for no reason. And if they do happen, you’ve worried twice.
We want to hear your ideas! Comment with your healthy habits to inspire others.
- Drink a glass of water immediately upon waking up every morning.
- Wear sunscreen every day, not just when you’re headed to the pool or beach.
- Don’t short yourself on sleep. Irritability, mental fogginess and even weight gain are among the negative effects.
- Once a week, do something that makes you feel a little scared. Any fear is a sign that the activity is one of growth.
- Schedule a full physical with your doctor at least once a year (or more often if you have specific concerns).
- Make friends with Alexa. Amazon’s personal assistant has hundreds of built-in skills to help you lead a healthier life.
- Sign up for a class, whether it’s pottery, cooking, basket-weaving or anything else you’ve always wanted to know more about.
- Take a multivitamin every day.
- Keep your hands out of your mouth—don’t bite your nails.
- Don’t sleep with your contacts in.
- Rediscover the wonders of naps. They’re just as restorative and magical as when you were a kid.
- Take dance lessons. Not only is it great exercise, it also stimulates the brain, forges a stronger relationship with your dance partner and keeps you young at heart.
- Switch your phone to the night shift setting in the evening. Studies have shown that the "blue light" from electronics is stopping our bodies from producing melatonin, which disrupts our sleep patterns.
- Smile more. It will automatically trigger feelings of happiness in you and those around you.
- Stop doing workouts you hate. Just stop. Today. They’re not doing you any favors.
- Drink more water. Not only does it quench your thirst, it also promotes healthy digestion, metabolism and nutrient absorption.
- Splurge on a new pair of athletic shoes.
- Pay attention to your posture. Standing or sitting up straight promotes proper spinal alignment, which ensures that your muscles and joints function properly. Plus, it exudes an aura of strength and confidence.
- A couple times a week, before going to sleep at night, mentally run through your day and make a list of things to be grateful for. There will always be things that went wrong or that you could have handled better, but there will also always be high points to focus on.
- Call a dermatologist and schedule a head-to-toe skin check.
- Floss every day. It’s more important than you think.
- If you smoke, stop.
- Give yourself some grace. Setbacks are an essential part of the process. The key is to forgive yourself, press the proverbial reset button and keep moving forward.
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