Of all the investments you’re likely to make in your lifetime, investing in your health may yield the greatest return.
Prioritizing your health isn’t just about helping you live longer. It’s about improving your quality of life and allowing you to accomplish more with the time you’re given. This entails incorporating smart habits into your daily routine that encourage longevity and stave off chronic illness.
While eating right and exercising regularly are crucial, having a healthy lifestyle also entails looking after your emotional and psychological well-being. In fact, taking a holistic approach to your health – one that accounts for both the physical and mental side of things – may do more for your longevity than focusing on your physical health alone.
With this in mind, here are 9 tips for living a healthier, happier, and more productive life.
Eat a Balanced Diet
The importance of eating well can’t be understated. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy body weight, a balanced diet can help promote brain function, boost your energy levels, and lower your risk of developing certain health conditions.
Aim to consume a variety of different food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These will provide your body with the energy and nutrients it needs to work optimally day in and day out. At the same time, try to limit your intake of processed foods, unhealthy fats, and added sugars. These can make you feel lethargic in the short term and may increase your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or certain cancers in the long term.
Drinking enough water is one of the simplest ways to feel better day-to-day while improving your overall health. Proper hydration is essential for regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients, and flushing toxins and waste products from your system. Conversely, dehydration can lead to health problems such as headaches, fatigue, and constipation. It can also impair cognitive function and physical performance.
It’s generally recommended that healthy adults consume between 10 and 16 cups of water per day, taking into account factors like body weight, age, activity level, and climate.1 Thirsty? You’re already dehydrated. You’ll know you’re drinking enough water if you need to use the bathroom every couple of hours.
Moderate Alcohol and Tobacco Use
Noticing a common theme here? What you put into your body matters. The potential long-term effects of excessive alcohol and tobacco use on your health are well documented. Both are highly-addictive substances that can lead to liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and other problems that cause your physical and mental health to deteriorate faster than they might otherwise.
Alcohol and tobacco can adversely affect you in the short term, too, by sapping your energy, hurting your sleep quality, and increasing your odds of developing anxiety or depression. As with everything in life, moderation is key.
Exercising regularly isn’t just a matter of staying in shape – doing so can bolster cognitive function and enhance productivity in both personal and professional settings. It can improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bones and muscles, and boost your immune system. It can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress and anxiety, and benefit your mood and overall mental wellness. Over the long term, getting enough exercise may also lower your risk of developing a number of chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.
How much exercise do you need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests combining 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like walking briskly) with muscle-strengthening activities (like lifting weights or doing push-ups) each week.2 If this goal proves too ambitious at first, remember that any amount of physical activity is better than none.
Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for the body to rest and rejuvenate, allowing it to repair and regenerate tissues, consolidate memories, and regulate hormones. Being well-rested can improve your mood, cognition, and energy while helping to slow some of the physical and mental deterioration often associated with aging. Sleep also impacts metabolism, which can have a cascading effect on your physical fitness and your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
On the other hand, sleep deprivation can lead to a host of health problems ranging from obesity and stroke to depression and anxiety. Lack of sleep can also impair cognitive function, reduce productivity, and increase your risk of accidents and injuries. At a minimum, adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but the more hours of sleep you can get, the better.
Keeping a lid on your stress levels throughout the days and weeks may seem easier said than done, but it’s nonetheless an important piece of your overall well-being. Stress can limit your ability to enjoy your life while also contributing to anxiety, depression, and even high blood pressure.
Much like interest from debt can compound and get out of hand, so too can stress accumulate to the point where it becomes difficult to get a handle on. Take time out of your busy schedule to unwind and mentally reset. This could involve engaging in your recreational activity of choice, spending time with loved ones, or practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
A recent study by Harvard University found that interpersonal connections play a critical role in happiness, health, and longevity. Social interaction has been shown to provide emotional support, reduce stress, and promote a sense of belonging and purpose. Additionally, social connections can stimulate the brain, enhance cognitive function, and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline.
Make sure to connect emotionally with friends and family as often as you reasonably can, ideally on a daily or weekly basis. These interactions won’t just make you feel good – they may also add years to your life.3
In addition to maintaining meaningful relationships, finding some kind of purpose that drives you each day can go a long way toward keeping you fulfilled and motivated. Not only are individuals with a strong sense of purpose more likely to experience positive emotions, but they’re also more likely to have better physical health and recover more quickly from illness and injury.4
What gives your life meaning and direction? Do you have a passion you’d like to pursue? Do you derive fulfillment from helping others? Finding purpose should be a priority for both your physical and mental well-being.
Schedule Regular Check-ups
Checking in with your healthcare provider on a regular basis can help you detect and prevent health problems before they become larger ones. This can help you save money (medical care is increasingly pricey) and may improve the prognosis you receive as well. In many instances, your doctor may provide preventative care or help you manage existing conditions by suggesting medication or lifestyle changes.
Even if you’re in good health, it’s recommended that you have an annual physical exam to screen for common problems and ensure you’re on the right track. If you require specialized care, you may need to meet with the relevant specialists more frequently.
Remember that small changes in your lifestyle today can end up making a big difference when it comes to your long-term health. At Concenture, we maintain that health and financial well-being go hand in hand. To that end, we aim to provide the resources and expertise you need to make smart decisions for your health and your finances so that you can enjoy your life.
If you’d like to learn more about what the Concenture team can do to support you – financially or otherwise – don’t hesitate to connect with us.
1 “How Much Water Do You Need to Stay Healthy?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, October 12, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256.
2 “How Much Physical Activity Do Adults Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 2, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm.
3 Solan, Matthew. “The Secret to Happiness? Here’s Some Advice from the Longest-Running Study on Happiness.” Harvard Health, October 5, 2017. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-secret-to-happiness-heres-some-advice-from-the-longest-running-study-on-happiness-2017100512543.
4 Lent Hirsch, Michele. “Purpose: The Definition and Why It’s Good for You.” Everyday Health, August 4, 2022. https://www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/all-about-having-a-sense-of-purpose-what-it-means-and-why-its-so-good-for-you/.