Health isn’t found in a fad diet or sporadic workouts; true wellness is attained through daily habits and healthy choices. Here are eight habits you can adopt to improve your health, fitness, and happiness today. Stretch Daily Taking time to stretch for a few minutes every day will increase your mobility, reduce your stress levels, and improve your physical fitness. Stretching reduces muscles tension, increases range of motion, strengthens lower back muscles (relieving back pain), and even increases energy levels. Including stretching as part of a bedtime routine helps relieve tension and stress accumulated throughout the day—perfect for getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep it off It’s not news that sleep is important, and yet, so many people fail to get enough. The amount of sleep you need varies based on the individual and age group. Children, teens, and young adults typically need 2-3 hours more sleep per day than adults—though letting them sleep until noon is probably not the best strategy. However, studies show that proper sleep improves memory and athletic performance, increases lifespan and quality of life, curbs inflammation, promotes healthy weight maintenance, and reduces stress and fatigue-related accidents. Bottom line: Get some sleep. Eat Raw Foods You don’t have to resort to extremes and go on a raw food diet, but including more raw foods in your regular diet will improve your health. Some significant benefits of raw foods include digestive enzymes. These little molecules pack quite a punch when it comes to digestion. Fruits and vegetables such as avocado, papaya, sprouts, and pineapple all contain beneficial digestive enzymes that aid in the digestion of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. This allows your body to absorb needed nutrients and combat food intolerance—preventing more serious health problems down the road. Floss Regularly We all know to floss regularly, but do we? Daily flossing doesn’t just keep unsightly food out of your teeth; it works to improve your oral health, from bad breath to gum disease. Brushing only reaches the surfaces of your teeth, cleaning off plaque buildup. Flossing works to remove plaque and tartar buildup between the teeth, affecting both teeth and gum health. But flossing affects more than just your mouth—it protects your whole body. Bacteria left untreated in your mouth can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and even respiratory illness. Flossing effectively limits bacterial growth in your mouth, helping to prevent serious oral and systemic diseases—and who doesn’t want that? Hydrate Without water, you have approximately three days to live. Your body loses water constantly—through sweat, breathing, exercise, and the call of nature—so replenish your reserves daily. Drinking water improves health by maintaining your fluid balances, energizing your muscles, hydrating your skin, and even controlling your weight. Choose water over sodas and other sugary drinks to reduce caloric intakes and keep drinking throughout your meals—this will make you feel fuller sooner, preventing overeating. Prepare Your Meals Highly processed and pre-made foods are often at the root of poor health in America. Cooking your own meals from scratch will increase your awareness of the foods you are consuming and encourage you to eat healthier. Moreover, eating meals at home can help with portion control and limit the amount of fat and sodium you eat each day as you monitor the ingredients. Simply save the leftovers for work the next day. Unplug Make sure to take time each day to unplug from the world. It doesn’t have to be for long, even an hour before you go to bed will help you unwind and improve your sleep. Unplugging is also an opportunity to connect with your friends and family—in person. As humans we need social interaction. While technology can facilitate that need, there is nothing quite like being physically and mentally present when you are communicating with your loved ones. Get Moving Take time every day to be active. Whether you enjoy intense workouts at the gym or a half-hour session of yoga, find time to get physically active. The majority of the workforce is stuck in sedentary office jobs for 8 hours a day. This is not good for your health (or sanity). Take frequent breaks to walk to the water fountain, stand and stretch at your desk, or otherwise get out of your chair. In the morning or evenings, walk your dog, shoot hoops in the driveway, or go for a run. Getting active for just a few minutes each day drastically improves health, wellness, and fitness. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t maintain these habits all at once. Habits are built over time, so make an effort each day to do a little better and incorporate these healthy tips into your daily life. About the Author: Drew Kobb , in addition to studying civil law, loves long distance running and considers himself a health and fitness enthusiast. His interests range all over the medical field, and Drew highlights that range on his blog, Dr. Ouch.
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