5 Healthy Habits For Long Term Health Benefits

Written by Wei Chen Yow
Posted on February 12, 2019

1. Stay Active!

Being physically active is one of the most important healthy habits to longer, healthier and productive lives. Why is that so? There are many studies supporting that exercise is the prime step to ‘good health and fresh mind’.

Why should we be physically active? Doing regular aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming or jogging can help reduce likelihood of getting chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, chronic stress and anxiety. As we age, our muscles and bones will slowly grow weaker! So, exercising the body helps to keep our muscles and bones strong

Exercise can also help to improve heart health by maintaining blood pressure and balanced cholesterol levels in the body. Besides that, a Harvard study has found that physical activity sharpens the mind as it helps alter the brain to increase memory and ability to learn new things faster. Staying healthy and fit also helps to build self-confidence and boost self-image.

So how much exercise should you be doing? Centre of Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend for an adult to have a minimum of 30 minutes daily of moderate exercise, such as walking, cycling and house chores.


2. Healthy Eating

Everybody knows the need of healthy eating in our daily lives, but we may not know why or how to do so.

What is a healthy diet?’

Many of us may find it hard to answer this question, due to the many food and nutrition researches with sometimes contradicting answers, confusing myths, doubtful recommendations and misinformation flooded in diet magazines and media.

So, after all that.. how should we actually eat? According to Malaysian Dietary Guidelines (MDG), the first message given recommended savouring the variety that’s out there.

And why not? Variety is a great way to make sure you receive the different combinations of energy and nutrients such as carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre. And to add, variety makes eating more fun and enjoyable!

Don’t forget to limit unhealthy foods that can be packed with high calories low nutrient dense foods such as convenient foods and ‘fast foods’ and instead, go for fresh whole foods that you can prepare at home.

Another way to build this healthy habit is to start reading the food labels to know the sugar and salt amounts in processed foods and snack items. You can alternate salt and salad dressings with herbs and spices for seasoning.


3. Sleep like a log

Sleep is one of the body’s most effective multi-tasker.

It plays many roles in recovery, hormonal balance, cleaning out waste products for our survival. Beyond that, sleep also helps with brain function, mental health and overall quality of life. All of us spend about one-third of our lives asleep! From these facts, we can tell how quality sleep is crucial for long-term health.

You may probably heard of these major benefits before, but there were further studies explored, giving more interesting views of sleep. It was found that sleep helps you to improve memory and learning skills as well as stabilizing emotional health. Well-rested people tend to be under the clouds less often.

Sleep also helps to clear up junk in your brain which researchers believe this process helps to reduce risks of Alzheimer disease. The amount of sleep required by each person differs with age. Optimal amount of sleep for a healthy working adult is from 7-9 hours per night. Any more or less may be associated with other health conditions. So do get your beauty sleep!


4. Be Mindful of Your Mental Health

When it comes to staying mentally strong and healthy, researchers found that people with strong family and social connections tend to be healthier than those who are less social active. So do make plans and spend quality time with your loved ones every so often.

Experts believe that random acts of kindness help raise one’s self-esteem, build social bonding and improve mental health. There are many simple ways of giving such as holding the door open for someone or give your friend a compliment. Giving to others makes you and others happy too.

Besides that, to be able to show love to others, it starts from treating yourself with love and respect first. Learning how to value yourself is also important in keeping yourself mentally fit. Treat yourself with your favourite movie or engage in your hobbies. Do a daily crossword puzzle and brain games, challenge yourself by learning a new skill or playing a musical instrument.


5. Avoid harmful chemicals

Two of the biggest threats to world health comes from tobacco and alcohol. It is so easy say “Just one doesn’t hurt” or “This is the last glass and I’m done.” but more often than not, we may finish the whole thing before we would stop to think twice.

The idea of smoking to help ease stress is short-lived. It can cause long-term health adverse such as headaches, anxiety and cancer.

Nurses’ Health Study has found that women with alcohol intake of less than 3 days/week have a longer lifespan than those who drinks one glass per day. Some researchers believe that one or two drinks in about 4 days/week seemed to have protective effects against heart disease but having a drink every day eliminated the benefits overall.

We can opt for other stress relieve activities such as playing your favourite sport, spending time with friends and watch your recent drama series. Flee from these temptations and the future you will thank the present you.


Making better changes for health can always seem boring and difficult. But like the famous Malaysian saying goes, ‘Sedikit sedikit menjadi bukit’ which means slow and steady like the tortoise wins the race.

References:

  1. http://www.kheljournal.com/archives/2015/vol1issue4/PartC/42.1-420.pdf
  2. http://www.nutriweb.org.my/index.php?a-guide-to-healthy-eating_del-20101229194744
  3. https://www.atsjournals.org/doi/full/10.1164/rccm.201504-0767ST
  4. https://www.uhs.umich.edu/tenthings
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4981808/
  6. https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1002585

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