With the arrival of a new year, there is no better time to focus on your health. But being healthy means more than just diet and exercise.
"To live a healthier life, you should incorporate healthy habits in your daily routine," says Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare. "Making small changes over time adds up and can have a big payoff when it comes to health."
The following five habits of healthy people can keep you on the path to a healthier lifestyle:
1. They follow the 80/20 rule.
Healthy people don't diet; they follow the 80/20 rule. They eat a clean, wholesome diet 80 percent of the time, and the remaining 20 percent they can choose to indulge and eat less healthy food. The 80/20 rule can help you stick to a balanced eating plan without feeling deprived and guilty.
2. They do something active every day.
Healthy people aren't necessarily spending endless hours at the gym to stay fit. However, they try to do something active every day. From walks to stretch breaks throughout the day, to body-weight exercises at home or playing sports with the kids, they always look for opportunities to include physical activity in their day.
3. They plan their meals.
Healthy people make an effort to prepare healthy meals. This means prepping a healthy lunch the night before, cutting fruits and vegetables ahead of time to take as snacks for on the go, and making enough dinner meals for the entire week to avoid going out or ordering in.
4. Health is a priority.
Healthy people make their health a priority. They participate in regular medical checkups, get flu shots and stick to their dental appointments. Healthy people ensure any potential issues are found early to protect their continued health.
5. They mitigate stress.
Healthy people understand that chronic stress can lead to many health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. They take time every day to relax and de-stress by practicing yoga, doing breathing exercises or enjoying a bubble bath. They also avoid sweating the small stuff that so often contributes to unnecessary stress.
"Being healthy doesn't have to mean you have to make drastic changes to your lifestyle," says Hays. "Focusing on small changes that turn into daily habits can improve your overall well-being for the long run."