What does it really mean to be healthy? A healthy lifestyle looks different for everyone. For some people, it's eating 100 percent organic fruits and vegetables. While for others it means giving up their nightly milkshake.
There are a billion healthy habits we can focus on to improve ourselves, but are they all created equal? For the general public, here are 6 basic healthy habits that yield the biggest return on your health investment.
Eating healthy every day
1. SLEEP WELL This sounds easy, right? Getting adequate sleep might not require willpower the way resisting a piece of chocolate cake does, but it doesn't mean it isn't hard. To clock the recommended 7-9 hours suggested by the National Sleep Foundation, it does require less late-night Netflix binges. It might also mean learning to accept the fact that you might get less done each day in order to sleep more. But the rewards are incredible! From better memory and weight control to enhanced mood, the list goes on and on.
It's amazing what water can do for you
2. DRINK WATER Drinking 8 cups of water a day is a practical habit that can change your life. Yet, stated in the Chicago Tribune according to the CDC nearly 43 percent of US adults drink less than 4 cups of water a day, leaving them chronically dehydrated. Get a head start on your daily intake by starting each morning with a big glass of cold water. Keep a water bottle within arm's reach all day. Tired of the boring taste (or lack thereof)? Try a diffuser and add natural fruit flavors to your water.
3. TIDY UP Our lives are filled with “things” — things we don't need, never use, and that clutters up our homes. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25 percent of people with 2-car garages don't have room to park two cars inside of them. Getting rid of that excess can free up mental and emotional space in your life. In Marie Kondo's wildly popular book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" she describes how to pare down your possessions to only those objects that "spark joy." So take the plunge and tackle that closet or basement you've been neglecting.
4. GET AN ANNUAL PHYSICAL Annual physicals and dentist appointments get pushed to the bottom of to-do lists often. Even though you know they are essential, they don't seem urgent. But as Benjamin Franklin said, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Make these check-ups a priority. Important screenings are done as well as and your doctor will alert if you anything is amiss. Many diseases, like cancer, are much more likely to be treatable when caught in the early stages.
Living a healthy happy life
5. EXERCISE The benefits of exercise — whether it's walking or powerlifting — are well known: increased energy, effective weight management and instant mood enhancement, just to name a few. Choose your favorite activity and get moving.
6. THE 80/20 RULE We all know that eating nutrient-filled foods that are low in sugar and trans fat are key to health and longevity. You can workout like crazy, but if your diet isn't in check, it won't make a pound of difference. That being said, few people have the willpower of a monk, which is why the rule is so effective. Make healthy choices 80 percent of the time and indulge 20 percent. It's as simple as that!