There are lifestyle changes you can make that will positively influence your picture of health. The good news is that you can begin at any age and still benefit. Research suggests that adopting a healthy lifestyle could substantially reduce premature mortality and prolong life expectancy in U.S. adults.
Let’s get hiking (literally and figuratively) in the right direction toward living well for life.
Eat real food, eat clean, eat high quality. High-quality foods include unrefined, minimally processed foods such as vegetables and fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy sources of protein. Eat less if you are trying to lose weight.
Balance the number on the scale. Aim for a body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2.
Measure your waist circumference. Waist circumference helps screen for possible health risks that come with overweight and obesity. If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. This risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches for women or greater than 40 inches for men.
If you are overweight, take steps to lose weight by eating less processed or packaged food to reduce caloric intake.
Move your body often. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of heart pumping physical activity per week. Consider building your strength and physical stamina with a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout to boost the metabolism.
Get your sleep. Aim for about 8 hours of quality sleep nightly.
Low-to-moderate alcohol intake. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture defines moderate drinking as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. Do not drink alcohol if you are pregnant, underage, planning to drive, or if you are unable to control your alcohol intake. Be sure you are not on medication that prohibits alcohol consumption.
Kick butt! (Cigarette butts that is!) Breaking your smoking habit will enhance your quality of life.
Which strategy yields the highest return on investment?
No smoking and balancing the scale. Heavy smokers and people with obesity tend to have the lowest disease-free life expectancy. However, the more healthy lifestyles you practice, the more benefit.
This data suggests that there is a potential gain of nearly 11 disease-free years for women who maintained these lifestyle strategies in middle age, while men have a potential gain of almost eight heart-healthy years.