7 healthy lifestyle habits that can add more than a decade to your life

Better health and happiness — I want it, you want it, we all want it.

Healthy habits are the key to a long life.

You know the many benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but it’s hard to embrace them. Why? Every good habit may be hard to adopt, but you can change that, one simple and consistent habit at a time.

Healthy habits can easily put your health and productivity on autopilot.

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And the good news is, you don’t have to make drastic changes to your life or current routine to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Small changes done consistently can have a greater impact on your life in the long-term. Adopt some of these simple habits today and start creating an epic life your future self will be proud of.

1. Stand more

Your body is designed for regular movement.

If you sit behind a desk for a very long time, you’ve got to change that.

Sitting for too long will negatively impact the quality of your life and work.

When you sit for long stretches, good cholesterol drops, and your body becomes inflamed, which increases the risk of heart attack.

Moving your muscles helps your body digest the fats and sugars better.

Dr. James Levine, author of Get Up! Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It, has done a number of investigations and notes that within 90 seconds of standing up (if you’ve been sitting for too long), the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol get activated.

When you stop moving for extended periods of time, it’s like telling your body it’s time to shut down. The less sitting you do during the day, the better your chances of living a healthy life.

You’ll be in a better mood, feel more energised, and relieve your achy body with just a few seconds of stretches at your desk.

2. Sleep is not a luxury

A consistent seven to nine-hour sleep is one of the most important and effective things you can do for your brain and body.

“Sleep is perhaps the greatest legal performance-enhancing ‘drug’ that few people are taking advantage of,” writes Matthew Walker of The Guardian.

Many people suffer from bad sleep; the worries of the day often keep them from fully recharging their brains and bodies for the day ahead.

They get up, maybe two, three, four times, before morning.

WebMD explains that an average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of sleep per night, but also note that some people can function with 6 hours of sleep, while others need 9 or more.

I aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night and endeavour to go to bed at the same time every night.

Consistent good sleep allows you to have plenty of energy for your day’s work.

And adequate amounts of sleep can improve your memory and quality of life, sharpen your attention, help you maintain a healthy weight, and of course lower the stress.

Healthline explains that mental health issues, such as depression, are strongly linked to poor sleep quality and sleeping disorders.

To begin a new path towards healthier sleep and a healthier lifestyle, the National Sleep Foundation recommends a personal assessment of your own individual needs and habits.

Pay careful attention to your mood, energy and health after a poor night’s sleep versus a good one, and find out what helps and what doesn’t.

3. Move for at least 30 minutes a day

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~ Jim Rohn

Always keep moving.

Your mind, body, and waistline will thank you.

It’s one of the most important decisions you can ever take for your health.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

Exercise boosts your confidence and energy levels.

It’s also a great way to combat stress and turn you into a calmer person.

Every morning, I try to stretch (pushups, squats, general body movements) for at least 5 minutes.

And during the day I take time to walk or power-walk when possible.

Walking helps clear my mind and have a different perspective on my current projects and life in general.

On weekends I workout for at least 10 minutes. Don’t go to the gym for an hour and lift weights until you pass out. If you can commit to minimal activities for even 5 minutes a week it’s a good start.

I will start biking in a few weeks. My gear is almost set.

Exercise doesn’t have to be anything big but it has be consistent.

You can squeeze in daily choices like taking the stairs, parking farther away, going for a quick walk, etc. to keep your body active.

Start small and develop the habit into your daily schedule and then ramp it up when you can.

Exercise a couple of minutes every day. You can get started with this simple 7-minute routines from the New York Times.

To make exercise a daily habit, schedule it into your calendar and set reminders.

If possible, always exercise at the same time.

And most importantly, make it a pleasurable activity. There’s no sense to run if you don’t like running. Find a type of exercise that you like and practice it.

4. Upgrade your water intake

Our bodies are around 60% water.

Good water is better than any other beverage.

“Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day,” says Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group.

After 6–8 hours of good sleep, your body becomes dehydrated, so I drink at least a glass of water every morning before breakfast.

After rehydration, your body will function and metabolize at its greatest efficiency.

The activated system can then process the nutrition you eat better and distribute the energy you need for your day’s work.

According to dietitian Julie Upton, drinking about half your weight in millilitres of water is a great way to ensure you stay hydrated, have energy, and even burn more calories.

“When you’re dehydrated you’ll experience dry mouth, low blood pressure, headaches, dizziness, dry skin, and worst of all, fatigue,” writes Patrick Allan of Lifehacker.

Listen to your body and make the right choice as the day progresses.

When you’re low on fluids, the brain triggers the body’s thirst mechanism.

It pays to listen to those cues and get yourself a drink of water.

If you already have a good morning and bedtime routine, make drinking water a part of it.

5. Open your windows

Getting enough fresh air where you live may be as simple as opening a window.

“Open your home to the outside world as frequently as you can, since the inside of a home generally has three to four times the pollutants and particles that are most dangerous to us. If you don’t air it out, you increase the chance that these pollutants will build up,” says Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD.

The air inside your home might be even more polluted than the air outside.

There are dozens of possible sources of polluted air on our homes — hairspray, candles, fumes from the nonstick coating on your cookware, etc.

While any might be harmless in small amounts, the air they create when mixed together can turn up inflammation, raise blood pressure, and even harden your arteries.

And if you’re spending more time indoors, it’s even more important to ventilate your house every now and then.

So make sure to open your windows as often as possible and bring fresh air.

Open windows for at least 10 minutes every day on milder days and once a week in winter, if you can’t afford to open your windows for just five minutes a day.

Keeping windows shut over winter helps save energy, not to mention money. But if you never exchange the air inside your home for fresh air, it can get stale and potentially lead to health issues.

6. Make nuts your go-to snack

A better snack is medicine your body.

Healthy snacks have the power to help you feel your best.

Nuts are better than potato chips or crackers.

Nuts are high in heart-healthy omega-3s, which also have been shown to help shrink your waistline.

Make your snack work for you, not against you.

“People who ate one ounce of nuts a day (that’s about 25 almonds or 50 pistachios) were less likely to die over a 30-year period than people who didn’t eat them at all, found a study of 119,000 people published in the New England Journal of Medicine,” writes Lauren Gelman of Reader’s Digest.

High levels of healthy unsaturated fats in nuts may lower cholesterol and inflammation, reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, and more.

7. Remove clutter from your life

“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.” ― Joshua Becker

Clutter is anything you don’t like, don’t use, or don’t need.

Our lives tend to accumulate clutter over time in almost every corner: on our desks, in our drawers, on our shelves, in our closets, on our computer, and even on your mind.

Evidence suggests that when multiple visual stimuli are competing for your attention, you have a harder time narrowing your focus to only one of them.

Decluttering your life is about removing some of the extra possessions in your house, keeping your desk clean at the end of every working day, focusing on one goal at a time (single-tasking), keeping an MIT(most important things) list, unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t need, and consuming less media to keep a sane mind.

There’s no downside to decluttering.

When you consistently declutter your life, home, and work, everything will improve everywhere.

You’ll feel amazing, emotionally lighter, and energised, and your health will expand easier.

Closing thoughts

People who stick to healthy habits in adulthood can add more than a decade to their lives, according to a major study into the impact behaviour has on lifespan.

If you are ready to make healthy choices, simply pick a couple of healthy habits that resonate with you.

Don’t pick more than you can handle at a time, otherwise, you will give up.

Focus on small behaviour changes everyday and work towards developing a healthier lifestyle. Changing your habits is a process, not a destination.

Healthy living isn’t impossible, but it takes time to develop. If you’re willing to make the sacrifices to better your health, the impact can be life-changing, regardless of your age.

This article originally appeared on Medium.