Healthy habits are hard to pick up and even harder to hold on to.
Of course most of us would rather watch five more episodes of How I Met Your Mother instead of getting up and going for a run. Of course eating pizza for dinner every night of the week sounds so much better than taking the time to prepare a well-balanced meal.
Choosing between the “easy” thing and the “healthier” thing can be challenging. The easy option requires little effort, while the healthier one usually requires some work. Plus, making that choice goes beyond simply opting for what you know is good for you.
Psychologist Dr Jeremy Dean explains:
“If you eat badly, you might resolve to start eating well, but if you're eating burgers and ice-cream to feel comforted, relaxed and happy, trying to replace them with broccoli and carrot juice is like dealing with a leaky bathroom tap by repainting the kitchen. What's required isn't a better diet, but an alternative way to feel comforted and relaxed.”
So then how do you successfully find an effective alternative and eventually turn it into a habit? According to a 12-week 2009 study that examined the habit-building process of 96 individuals, it could take quite a while and the process is likely different for everyone.
96 individuals participated in the study and it took an average of 66 days for a new practice to become habitual, meaning the participants described the new habit as “hard not to do” or said that it could be done “without thinking.”
However, the study also revealed that there was a significant amount of variation between participants, where some found it took just 18 days to successfully hold on to a habit, others needed as many as 254 before their new practice became habitual.
So successfully adopting a healthy habit could take quite some time, but the good news is that the study also found if participants missed a day of practice, it didn’t create any sort of setback or hinder their chance of later forming the habit.
People who are committed to being fit don't often have to make the choice between “easy” and “healthy” because their commitment to health and fitness has made the two synonymous; healthy is easy because it’s become a habit. What was once an option is now more of a ritual.
When it comes to long term health and fitness, consistency is key and forming healthy habits makes consistency easy. These are a few of the healthy practices that habitually fit people follow on a daily basis. Try adding them into your daily routine for an overall healthier lifestyle.
-6 Everyday Habits of Extremely Fit People-
1.) Getting Enough Sleep
Poor sleep habits are associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, impaired immunity, a decreased drive to exercise, and an increase in the production of a hormone called ghrelin which increases our appetite by telling the brain that we want to keep eating even after we’re full. Consistently getting enough sleep— experts recommend getting at least 7 to 8 hours every night— improves both mental and physical stamina, stabilizes hormones and energy levels, and aids in the recovery of muscles after exercise.
2.) Yoga Before Bed
Several studies have shown that yoga is an extremely effective tool for decreasing stress and anxiety, and winding down before bed is a great way to ensure you’ll get a good night’s sleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends engaging in calming activities each night before bed and a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who modified their nighttime rituals by including relaxation techniques improved their sleep more than participants who took drugs. Plus, according to the International Association of Yoga Therapists, among other health benefits, regularly practicing yoga can help increase energy levels, strengthen your immune system and improve your mood.
3.) Moving More Whenever Possible
Several studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to poor health and that even a consistent weekly exercise routine may not offset the harmful effects of sitting for prolonged periods of time. Perpetually fit people seize every opportunity to move more. This includes everything from walking (or maybe even biking) to and from work to taking the stairs and choosing faraway parking lot spots.
4.) Staying Hydrated
According to WebMD, the health benefits of hydration include increased energy levels, improved heart health, reduced stress, healthier skin, and improved digestion. Plus, increasing your water intake can speed up your metabolism and help prevent weight gain.
5.) Avoiding Beverages with Added Sugar
The most health-conscious people avoid unnecessary weight gain by swapping high-calorie beverages (especially those with excessive amounts of added sugar) for more nourishing liquids like water and unsweetened teas. “The simple act of drinking one soda (or any other sugary drink) every day can lead to substantial weight gain over the course of the year,” says Josh Anderson, an AFAA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer and the owner of Always Active Athletics. If you really enjoy flavored fluids, try adding real fruit, lemon or lime to water or seltzer.
6.) Exercising for Fun
The most active people don’t feel like exercise is a chore because they engage in activities that they genuinely love and regularly switch up their exercise routines in order to avoid boredom. Finding your favorite form of exercise may require some trial and error, but until you experience an activity or sport first-hand, there’s no way to tell whether or not you’ll love it. So keep an open mind and try new activities until you find a sport or workout that has you hooked.
What healthy habits would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!