25 Simple Health Habits Make a Surprisingly Big Difference

Bad habits can be destructive to your health and can only be combated by replacing them with good ones. These 25 suggestions are aimed at improving everything from your mental to physical health. By following them, you just might be able to see the results instantly.

1. Exercise.

Everyone says to do it, but how many of us have the time? With benefits such as a longer, healthier life, better appearance, and more energy, time should be found. Exercise can be a simple as taking a walk, as fun as a round of tennis, or as fulfilling as a basketball game with the kids. For more tips on simple and fun exercises visit here.

2. Eat five small meals a day instead of three.

This helps deliver a steady intake of nutrients, sugar, and energy to your body throughout the day. In addition, five meals are easier on the digestive and metabolic systems and help reduce your risk of heart disease.

3. Eat fish and Omega 3.

The American Heart Association recommends a healthy, non-fried, serving of fish at least twice a week. The fatty acids they contain have been shown to reduce heart disease. Good sources of this include lake trout, albacore tuna, salmon, tofu, soybeans, walnuts, and flaxseed.

4. Switch from white to whole grains.

One of the most popular staples in the American diet is breads, pasta, and rice made from refined flour. The carbohydrates found in these foods can lead to diabetes, stroke, and heart disease, arthritis, and allergies. Benefits of a whole grain diet include reduced risk of stroke and diabetes, weight loss, healthier arteries, and more. Visit the Whole Grains Council for more information.

5. Snack healthy.

Potato chips, cookies, and other high fat, low yield foods lead to weight gain and other health problems. By switching to health snacks, you can maintain your metabolism while giving your body the nutrition it needs. A list of healthy and delicious snacks can be found here.

6. Eat dairy.

Calcium is known to be important for strong bones and can help prevent high blood pressure, kidney stones, heart disease, and colon cancer. Three glasses of skim milk a day has also been shown to help lose weight and maintain muscle. However, this can be a problem if you are lactose intolerant. Visit here for information on how to get the benefits of dairy without traditional milk.

7. Trade your coffee for green tea.

While providing a jolt of energy, the caffeine in coffee can lead to stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Containing a smaller amount of caffeine, green tea is also an excellent source of antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer and other diseases. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate, which is reputed to help conditions such as arthritis, high cholesterol, and an impaired immune system.

8. Drink plenty of water.

Dehydration has been shown to lead to fatigue, headache, and weakness. Most doctors recommend 64 ounces, or eight glasses, of water per day. Make sure to choose filtered water that uses activated charcoal, which removes the impurities and leaves the minerals.

9. Don’t eat before bedtime.

By finishing your last meal at least three hours before bedtime, your body won’t still be digesting when you sleep, leaving you well rested in the morning. Ideal foods for a good sleep include whole grains, natural yogurt, and milk. Be sure to stay away from pork or caffeine before bed, as they contain stimulants.

10. Eat breakfast.

Those who skip breakfast may think they are getting ahead on time or weight loss, but they are wrong. Eating a healthy breakfast, such as egg whites and fruit, can jump start your metabolism, actually helping you lose weight while having more energy. For a list of quick and healthy breakfasts, visit here.

11. Eat slower.

Now that you know what to eat, learn how to eat it properly. By taking smaller bites and eating slower, you can lose weight, help your digestive system, and reduce stress. For more information and tips, visit Slow Food.

12. Take the stairs.

Those who work in an office are constantly condemned to sit at a desk for eight hours. By taking the stairs, instead of an elevator or escalator, they can sneak in some exercise to increase heart rate, get the metabolism going, and help the digestive process.

13. Wash your hands.

One of the most common ways to spread germs and catch an illness is through dirty hands. Best times to wash are before meals, after using the bathroom, and after handling garbage or other contaminated things. Make sure to use hot water and soap, or if unavailable, an alcohol based gel.

14. Wear sunscreen.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. It is caused by over exposure to the ultraviolet rays found in the sun’s light and tanning beds. Be sure to choose an SPF or 30 and higher, or wear a hat when out in the sun.

15. Laugh.

Research has shown that the benefits range from strengthening the immune system to reducing food cravings, and even increasing your threshold for pain. It is also essential for relieving stress. Don’t feel like laughing? Then watch a funny show or get with friends to get you started.

16. Get socially active.

Joining a club, team, or volunteer group helps people be active and gives them something to look forward to. Also, these friends provide an outlet for relieving stress, giving advice, and sharing a good time.

17. Drive slower.

Car accidents are a leading cause of injury and death. By taking more time to focus on driving, you can avoid clumsy drivers and watch for road hazards, all while saving money on gas. Slow drivers are also less stressed, and reduced stress is far more important than shaving a few minutes off your commute.

18. Try meditation.

Stress does an amazing amount of damage to the body, and studies show that meditation is a simple and effective way to fight it. It helps regulate breathing, which can help eliminate the toxins inside your body. For a quick instructional guide on meditation, visit here.

19. Brush and floss.

Just as your mother said, brushing and flossing your teeth actually does help you grow big and strong. Build up of plague on the gums and teeth finds it way into the bloodstream and can have serious health consequences. Associated risks include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and low birth weight of babies in pregnant women.

20. Take your vitamins.

Regardless of your gender, age, and special needs, a daily vitamin is essential to a healthy lifestyle. They can prevent disease, give you more energy, and are an easy way to get nutrients. Learn what vitamins you should be taking by doing some simple research. This resource has more information on everything from antioxidants to vitamins for wellness.

21. Stop drinking soda.

With outrageous sugar and calorie content, soda is one of the most addictive and destructive habits of the everyday American. Even diet sodas are harmful to the body, as they contain artificial sweeteners and often take the place of healthier beverages such as water, skim milk, and whole juice. For tips on how to eliminate soda and healthy alternatives, visit here.

22. End toxic relationships.

If you have a friend or significant other who is causing a great deal of stress in your life, ending this relationship can have an immense positive impact on your health. Emotional abuse can lead to loss of enthusiasm, problems with self confidence, anxiety, and most of all: stress. A list of the signs of this relationship, along with tips for combating it can be found here.

23. Say “no” to drugs.

According to MedLinePlus, drug abuse results in around 40 million serious illnesses or injuries among people in the United States every year. Those who become addicts often begin by just trying drugs such as marijuana, heroin, or cocaine. Once they give in, users are more likely to repeat, leading to things such as missed or lost work, crime, and serious health problems. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has more information including warning signs, tips for saying no, information on a variety of drugs, support groups, and more.

24. Quit smoking.

Easier said than done, cigarettes have been proven to increase the risk for heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Stopping this habit is difficult due to the nicotine withdrawal, but once accomplished, smokers can immediately feel a difference in their health. The American Cancer Society has a Do’s and Don’ts Guide for Quitting Smoking, along with QuitLines and other support.

25. Plan for health.

By doing things such as preparing meals beforehand and making time for exercise, you can ensure that you will have the time and energy for a healthy life. Because no one follows a diet or exercise routine by accident, planning is essential.