A study by the Center of Disease Control (CDC) of almost 400,000 Americans and five health-related behaviors for chronic disease prevention found that only 6.3% of Americans engage all five healthy behaviors. Do you fall into the top 6% of the American population that practice all five healthy habits? If so, I’m patting you on the back right now…because you rock! So what are these five healthy habits you should have?
1. Maintaining a healthy weight: This means maintaining a normal body mass index (BMI). Use the calculator below to determine your BMI.
BMI ranges are underweight: under 18.5, normal weight: 18.5 to 25, overweight: 25 to 30, obese: over 30. Give yourself credit for this healthy behavior if your BMI is within normal range. One trick you can use to stay on target is to figure out what your tipping point number is that brings you into overweight category. I’ve done this for myself and if keeps me on track. When you see yourself creeping towards this number, you know you need to make changes. I’ve found that when I’ve gotten closer to the tipping point and think back to my eating behaviors I can recall some late night ice cream indulging. If you are already above this number you now have a healthy target to shoot for. Being mindful of your tipping point number, can help you be mindful of your eating habits.
Healthy eating plays a big part in maintaining a healthy BMI. Not sure how to eat healthy? We interviewed Devin Burke, Wellness Educator and author of Healthy Eating in the 21st Century and he made it SIMPLE! Check out the interview with Devin on our podcast. Get inspired to make healthy changes in your diet by turning on Netflix and watching some food documentaries. Want to know our recommendations? Read The Food Documentaries that Changed my Life.
2. Engaging in regular exercise: Regular doesn’t mean using your gym membership three times all year (yeah..in January..you know who you are). Regular exercise is defined as 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. The benefits of exercising are unbelievable and life-changing. Listen to our Exercise and Be Happy podcast episode on your commute to work tomorrow and you’ll be ready to make exercising a habit. Also check out our article, Exercise and Get Happy. This behavior should be non-negotiable, just like showering or brushing your teeth.
3. Not smoking: Not smoking was defined as not smoking 100 cigarettes or more during their lifetime or having smoked at least 100 cigarettes during their lifetime but not smoking at the time of the survey. According to the CDC, 17 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes. In 1965, 42 percent of Americans smoked and the number has steadily declined since which is pretty impressive. If you do smoke, why not join the trend and quit. There are many resources available to help you quit. Start by checking out http://www.smokefree.gov for help.
4. Cutting out or limiting alcohol: CDC defined nondrinkers or moderate drinkers as people who drank no alcohol or drank alcohol in moderation during the past 30 days. Moderate drinking was defined as drinking up to 2 alcoholic drinks per day for men and up to 1 drink per day for women, no reported binge drinking (5 or more drinks on one occasion for men and 4 or more drinks for women), and no heavy drinking (15 or more drinks per week for men and 8 or more drinks per week for women during the past 30 days). I know you’re all counting backwards right now to figure out how many glasses you’ve indulged in over the last week. Or maybe you’re thinking how lucky you are that your wine glass is the size of a fish bowl. Many people are stressed and have fallen in to pouring that glass of wine or beer after work almost daily. Be vigilant and make sure you aren’t over indulging.
5. Getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night: Lay there and do nothing! This is my favorite one. I’ve always loved sleeping. I was one of those kids that would arrive at a sleepover and fall asleep at 8 pm. But for many sleeping is not their favorite. Some stay up too late when they know their alarm is scheduled to go off early. Staying up late is tempting, as you want that time to yourself that you don’t get during the day because of kids and busy schedules. Some may have insomnia or wake up in the middle of the night trying to solve world problems. Did you know getting enough sleep was more important than eating healthy and exercise? If you’re not getting 7 hours of sleep right now, I challenge you to go to bed earlier starting tonight. Give yourself at least 7 hours to recharge and I bet you’ll feel a difference right away.
I’m glad I didn’t tally up my healthy behavior points in college because it would only be ONE. Luckily as I grew older, I realized the direct correlation between healthy habits and how I feel physically and mentally. These five healthy habits contribute to your overall well-being, which results in less suffering and a better quality of life. Download our free Daily Planner, so you can carve out time and plan for those healthy habits.
OK, so tally up YOUR healthy behaviors. How many do you have? Comment below…we’d love to hear from you. If you don’t have all five, try adding one more to your list.