10 Healthy Habits You Should Establish in Your 20s from 10 Healthy Habits You Should Establish in Your 20s
10 Healthy Habits You Should Establish in Your 20s
It takes time to truly adopt new habits so that they become less laborious and more like second nature, so it’s smart to start building a sturdy foundation sooner rather than later. The following health and fitness habits are some the most important practices that you can work on now so that you’ll be more likely to maintain them later on in life.
Getting Quality Sleep
A recent survey conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways well-being index found that about 42 percent of U.S. adults don’t get adequate amounts of sleep, and a growing body of research continues to link poor sleep habits with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and impaired immunity. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that adults ages 26 to 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep per night on a regular basis.
You likely already know that establishing a healthy exercise routine is essential to maintaining good health. However, compared with only performing cardio exercise, including strength training as part of your routine will help you to reap many additional health benefits, including better bone health (which is especially important for older women), reduced body fat, and an increase in your functional fitness (which means you'll continue to be able to easily perform everyday tasks).
We know, this is probably one of the oldest “fitness tips” in the book and you’ve heard it hundreds of times. But there’s a reason why everyone keeps reminding us to drink more water, and it’s because our bodies rely heavily on proper hydration levels in order to function optimally. Not only will developing a healthy hydration habit help you to maintain a healthy body temperature, heart rate, and metabolism, but it can also benefit the health of your kidneys and important digestive organs, too.
Spending Time Outside
A growing body of research associates time spent outside with a handful of important health benefits. Spending time in the sunshine is one way to help boost your levels of Vitamin D, which is important for building and maintaining strong bones. And not only can quality time spent in the great outdoors improve your physical health, but it’s also been linked to mental health benefits. Mark Sisson, author of The Primal Blueprint and creator of MarksDailyApple.com says that removing yourself from indoor environments—the workplace especially—can help you to reduce stress and improve the quality of your sleep. Not to mention, research also suggests that exercising outside can also be highly beneficial to your overall health.
Reducing Your Sugar Intake
More and more research continues to associate high sugar intake with obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, but even if this isn’t news to you, it’s a good idea to double check your diet for foods that are unsuspectingly hiding this harmful ingredient. Doing so may help to increase your chances of living a longer life, as a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that habitual consumption of sugary sodas may increase the risk for metabolic disease through accelerated cell aging. According to the American Heart Association, men should limit their daily sugar intake to about 37.5 grams (nine teaspoons) and women to about 25 grams (six teaspoons).
Rest and Recovery
You know how important it is to exercise regularly, but just because you’re young doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need to rest. Don’t forget the importance of allowing your body to recover between workouts, especially if you regularly participate in high-intensity activities like CrossFit and running. Inadequate rest and recovery between workouts can lead to over-training syndrome, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, and decreased immunity. Take care of your body and treat it gently now so that you can continue to exercise and participate in all of the activities you love well into the future.
Sometimes your 20s might feel more stressful than you had expected, but we all have to deal with stress and a little bit every now and then might actually be good for you. However, it’s chronic stress (a result of constant and sometimes multiple life stressors) that’s most dangerous, and learning to manage the more demanding and taxing situations that life throws your way can help play a role in the prevention of stress-related illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and sleep problems both now and in the future.
Protecting Your Skin
It might make you happy to maintain that sun-kissed golden glow now, but in the future there will likely be a high price to pay for spending time under the sun (or in tanning beds) without protection. Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a board-certified dermatologist and the President and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians says that UV exposure causes the formation of free radicals in your skin, which damage your skin cells’ DNA. This can potentially lead to skin cancer and also a breakdown of your skin’s collagen, which can cause wrinkles and thinning.
More and more research continues to show that even if you exercise regularly, you likely aren’t exempt from the negative effects associated with too much time spent sitting down. Scientists haven’t yet pinpointed specific levels of inactivity that could increase your risk factor for those negative effects, but one thing that’s clear is the more you can move throughout the day, the better.
Reducing Your Alcohol Intake
A little bit of alcohol (one drink a day for women and two for men) may actually help to lower your risk for heart failure, but once you move past that threshold you may be increasing your risk for other issues. According to a study in the European Heart Journal heavy drinking (more than 21 drinks a week) was linked to higher rates of all-cause mortality.