Each day is an opportunity to live a healthier life — however, you choose to define health.
But with all the personal and professional responsibilities in your day-to-day, you may feel like there isn’t enough time or energy to better yourself. You might delay goals or choose between getting enough sleep and eating a balanced meal.
Small adjustments in your daily schedule can create substantial, positive change. Simple actions like staying hydrated, dedicating a few minutes to movement, or prioritizing a hobby might sound minor, but together, they form the foundation for balanced mental fitness and physical well-being.
Your personal health should emphasize “personal.” Learning how to be healthier is a unique journey filled with choice — and you’re free to mix, match, and start over as often as you need. It starts by stepping back and understanding what motivates you to set smart health goals.
These healthy lifestyle tips can help you take the leap.
What’s a healthy lifestyle?
Self-help gurus, social media, and your peers might influence your definition of a healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to compare yourself to others and think your habits aren’t “healthy” enough, whether you’re envious of someone’s meal prep or their workout routine.
But finding your sense of balance isn’t prescriptive. What feels healthy and motivating for you probably differs greatly from the next person.
You may want to focus on nourishing your body with foods for concentration, while someone else may need to focus on more sleep and relaxation. And that’s okay. Your preferences, objectives, and life circumstances are unique and, along with any professional advice you’ve received, should be what guide your pathway to a healthier lifestyle.
- What activities energize me?
- What foods provide me with nutrients and fuel my mental health?
- How do my current sleeping habits impact my daily energy and mood?
- What healthy relationships and social interactions enrich my life?
- What stress management techniques do I use to find calm?
- How can I improve my self-care in my daily routine?
- What barriers or challenges have prevented me from achieving personal health goals?
- How do I want to feel in six months? Five years? Ten years?
- How will I track and celebrate my progress?
- Do I have support systems and resources to help me reach my goals?
The importance of a healthy lifestyle
Imagine that you’ve had a good night’s rest. During the day, you exercised, had a healthy dinner, and set aside your phone an hour before bed to fall asleep on time. You slept deeply throughout the night and woke up refreshed.
Now imagine you didn’t sleep well. You stayed up late on social media, procrastinated your bedtime, or had a bad dream you couldn’t shake. When you woke up, there’s a good chance you felt sluggish or couldn’t concentrate while taking on the day’s tasks.
Your body, mind, and emotions connect with each other. Just like a good night’s sleep can positively impact your mood, energy, and concentration, a balance of physical and mental wellness can help you tap into your full potential.
An active, healthy lifestyle tends to lead to happier and longer lives, according to a review from the World Economic Forum. Here are a few ways a healthy lifestyle can improve your well-being:
How to live a healthy lifestyle in 11 tips
Healthy habits take time to form, and you shape them by making consistent, daily decisions.
You don’t have to alter your lifestyle all at once. Start slow and small, adding another new habit as you successfully incorporate another one. With patience and determination, the positive health benefits will motivate you to strive for better practices in all areas of your life.
Here are 11 health tips to inform your daily choices:
Mindfully eating a balanced diet with nutritious meals won’t only positively impact your physical well-being. It’ll fill you with the energy you need to get through the day and pursue other health goals.
1. Pay attention to your beverage intake
According to a 2018 study published in Nutrients, soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are among the largest sources of added sugars in American diets. Even those advertised as healthy alternatives, like processed juices and smoothies, may have excessive amounts of sugar.
While they might fill you with energy, sweet drinks lack the nutrients your body needs to get through the day, and they aren’t worth the potential negative impacts. Routinely drinking sugar-loaded beverages can even increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Rather than regularly filling on sugary beverages, consider the following alternatives:
- Carry around a reusable bottle to remind you to drink water
- Take a break to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee
- Begin your day with vitamin and mineral-rich vegetable juices
- Infuse water with fruit and herbs for a more flavorful beverage
2. Eat nuts and cereals
Snacking on a handful of nuts is an easy way to insert energy-rich, healthy fats into your diet because they’re rich in fiber, protein, and important vitamins and minerals. Adding these to your list of favorite snacks can decrease unhealthy weight gain and help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Including whole grains and cereals, like bulgur, quinoa, and sorghum, in your meals is another way to round out a healthy diet. Whole grains are full of carbohydrates, protein, and B vitamins — nutrients that can maintain steady blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and prevent the risk of heart attack.
3. Choose healthy fats
But not all fats are the same. A study from Nutrients reports that keeping your consumption of saturated fats at less than 10% of daily calories is key to preventing health problems like intestinal inflammation, cancer, and high blood pressure.
An effective way to cut down on saturated fats is reducing fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter and palm oil, and rich meats like beef and lamb. Instead, opt for monounsaturated fats (which are liquid at room temperature) like sesame, canola, or olive oil and lean meats, like poultry or fish.
4. Get your share of veggies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you consume 1.5–2 cups of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables daily for your health. A good rule of thumb is to make food choices that favor vibrant colors, particularly nutrient-rich dark, leafy greens that are high in folate and fiber.
But learning to cook with vegetables can be intimidating, especially if you aren’t used to their taste and texture. Here are a few suggestions:
- Blend veggies into smoothies with fresh fruits, honey, or yogurt
- Meal plan with a focus on incorporating a specific amount of vegetables into your daily diet
- Take a cooking class that centers on plant-based or healthy cooking
- Follow social media channels or cooking publications with fun, vegetable-rich recipes
- Join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which can introduce you to new vegetables and support your local community
5. Take care of your gut
Trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi live in your intestinal tract — known as your gut microbiome — and bacteria influence your digestion, inflammation, and immune health. And changes to your gut’s natural sense of balance can create a long list of inflammatory ailments, including asthma, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Incorporating fermented foods into your diet is one way of filling your gut with healthy bacteria and strengthening your digestive system. According to Nutrients, fermented foods include:
Exercise and movement tips
The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week to keep your body and mind healthy. That 150 minutes may sound like a lot — especially if you have a busy work schedule and family life. But it works out to just over 20 minutes a day, which can fit into even the busiest of schedules.
Breaking your exercise into small bursts of activity throughout the week, and finding habits you enjoy, can make it more manageable. Here are some tips for moving your body:
6. Practice strength training
According to a report from the National Institute on Aging, your muscle mass and strength naturally decline as you age, starting slowly in your 30s and in quicker bursts after age 65. Regular strength training helps slow down that decline, which sustains mobility, improves resistance to chronic disease, and can potentially lessen your need for living assistance during the late stages of life.
You don’t have to commit to a gym membership to get into regular training. A few inexpensive pieces of equipment and knowledge of bodyweight exercises are all you need:
- Subscribe to an exercise app to learn bodyweight exercises, like push-ups, squats, and planks
- Invest in small pieces of equipment, like resistance bands, exercise balls, or a pull-up bar
- Pencil in midday breaks to do bodyweight workouts in the fresh air
- Take classes in your community to find activities you love
- Increase your step count by making an effort to walk places you’d usually drive or transit to
- Partner with a workout buddy or family member and track your progress on an app to hold yourself accountable
7. Move your body
Aerobic exercise is a great way to increase your heart rate, strengthen your cardiovascular system, and improve your mental health. You might not see the benefits right away, but this type of exercise is great for you in the long run. Studies show that people who prioritize regular cardio feel less anxiety and experience better overall health.
Here are a few tips to incorporate regular aerobics into your routine:
- Take a weekly bike ride to explore new trails and paths while exercising
- Sign up for a run or charity race to give your training a goal and purpose
- Start your day with a quick cardio routine, like jumping jacks or skipping rope
- Break up your workday by cranking up the music and dancing
- Join an in-person or virtual fitness class, creating a sense of community
- Schedule regular breaks in your day to stretch
8. Get seven hours of sleep
Nearly everyone knows how important sleep is, but resting well is easier said than done. Your body needs a minimum of seven hours of continuous, uninterrupted sleep each night to function properly during the day. And REM sleep, the period of sleep where dreaming occurs, is crucial to mental clarity, recovering from physical exercise, and protecting yourself from serious health conditions like diabetes and stroke.
Here are a few tips for improving your sleep schedule:
- Create a nighttime routine you look forward to, like reading a book, winding down with warm tea, or journaling about your day
- Switch daytime naps for healthy meals and short bursts of exercise to improve your energy
- Partner with a sleep coach
- Avoid devices that keep your mind active an hour before bed
- Limit blue light that could affect your circadian rhythm and strain your eyes
- Try not to sleep too much
9. Get regular checkups
A medical professional will nearly always have insights that you can’t find on your own. Preventative medical and dental checkups can help detect health problems in their early stages and give you the advice you need to make informed health decisions. Aging well is all about preventative measures.
How often you visit your health provider depends on your current health, lifestyle, and family medical history. Regardless of how often you check in, regular visits will empower you to take a more proactive approach to your health and quality of life.
Tips for a better mind
A healthy body often starts with a healthy mind. Developing a deeper relationship with your inner self encourages a holistic approach to health, allowing you to set clear goals, discover your motivation to achieve them, and foster a positive attitude that helps you push through challenges. Here are a few ways to prioritize emotional balance:
10. Develop a self-care routine
A valuable self-care plan is all about picking and choosing the activities that make you feel good while contributing to your health. And when you find the right balance, you’ll feel improved mental health and well-being, develop better coping mechanisms to stress, and be more productive at work.
Here are a few self-care objectives to consider:
- Put your feelings on paper with journaling
- Practice gratitude and mindfulness to develop a positive mindset
- Slow down with a regular skincare routine
- Give yourself permission to be unproductive during rest, like watching a movie or reading a book
- Sign up for a class to learn a new skill like ceramics or find community, like a reading group
11. Go on a digital detox
Social media is designed to interest you and bring you joy. It can provide you with inspiration, laughs, and a sense of community, and rewards in the algorithm release the feel-good chemical dopamine.
While happy hormones can boost your mood and motivation, getting them from social media can also make you dependent on your cell phone, negatively impacting your work performance, social life, and sense of self-worth.
To develop a healthier relationship with your device, consider some of the following tips:
- Set screen limits with social media blockers and quiet mode
- Turn off noisy push notifications that demand your attention
- Try small breaks from social media, like not checking it on nights or weekends
- Set boundaries with other digital habits, like not checking emails or work notifications outside of working hours
- Conduct a formal digital detox to break habits
Slow and steady wins the race
Learning how to be healthy is a never-ending journey, and everyone has a different destination.
Thinking about building habits that support an entire life of healthy living may sound overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. Start by considering your current health, boundaries, and future goals. Once you have a realistic understanding of what you want and the resources that can help you get there, take a small step forward each day.
With these healthy lifestyle tips, you can begin to build a deeper awareness of how small choices make a big impact. Choosing water over soda, an hour of walking rather than scrolling, or journaling before bed will all stack on top of each other, eventually leading to enormous impacts on your well-being.