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5 of the Most Important Factors for a Healthy Lifestyle

As I mentioned in previous posts, there are three areas of our lives that I believe serve as the foundation for a happy life: your physical health, your financial health, and balanced, productive use of your time. However, I wanted to take a deeper dive into what are the elements of a healthy lifestyle that have the greatest impact on your quality of life. I reviewed a number of reputable sources and a few factors consistently popped up in my research so I wanted to explore them in this post. Here are the ones that seemed to consistently come up:

  1. Eating regular, well-balanced meals. It should be no surprise that your diet has a profound impact on your long-term health. Roughly half of all adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases that can be directly related to poor eating habits. In particular, eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, and omega-3 fatty acids were important elements of a healthy diet. On the flip side, avoiding unhealthy foods such as red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium were just as important for a healthy diet. Eating regular family meals has been shown to promote more nutritious eating in addition to the valuable connections through the conversations that happen as well.

  2. Getting Adequate Sleep. According to WebMD, people that are well-rested are able to cope with stress much better as well as can control their appetites much better as well. According to Harvard Health, insufficient sleep may lead to the following conditions over time: obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

  3. Exercising Regularly. Again, it shouldn't be a surprise that regular exercise is on this list. Studies show moderate to vigorous exercise 30 minutes per day is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. In particular, it can reduce your chances of cardiovascular disease and improve bone density as you grow older.

  4. Avoiding the use of tobacco products. Smoking is implicated in over 400,000 deaths per year in the United States, and there are another 16 million people that suffer from smoking-related illnesses.

  5. Consuming alcohol in moderation or not at all. While research suggests that red wine may offer protection from diseases such as heart disease to Alzheimer's disease, let's not go crazy. If you overdo it, alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk for certain diseases. Women, for instance, have a 15% higher chance for breast cancer if they have 3 drinks per week. Other health problems alcohol has been linked to are high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, some cancers, accidents, violence, suicide, and deaths in general. Moderate alcohol intake was around 5 to 15 grams per day for females and 5 to 30 grams per day for males. This equates to 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

According to research lead by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, these healthy habits could add more than 10 years to your life expectancy. In particular, these habits reduced the likelihood of people dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease.

References & Resources

  1. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/health

  2. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/5-healthy-habits-may-increase-life-expectancy-by-decade-or-more

  3. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/4-steps-healthy-lifestyle#1

  4. https://www.balancedwellbeinghealthcare.com/five-main-factors-for-maintaining-good-health

  5. https://www.jwatch.org/fw114116/2018/04/30/5-lifestyle-factors-could-add-more-10-years-life

  6. https://www.verywellhealth.com/lifestyle-factors-health-longevity-prevent-death-1132391

  7. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/healthy-lifestyle-5-keys-to-a-longer-life-2018070514186

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