Starting your journey to better health means making small but significant lifestyle changes. But which changes will make the biggest difference to your health and well-being? Some habits are clearly unhealthy (smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, lack of sleep), but others have a larger impact over time and contribute to problems as you age.
Here are some surprisingly harmful habits that you can target right away to enhance your quality of life in the long run.
1. Sitting Too Much
If your job requires a lot of sitting, read on. Prolonged periods of sedentary motion can really impact your body’s ability to function in a healthy way. You’re increasing your risk of obesity, heart disease, and circulatory problems.
If you find yourself glued to the office chair, you can combat the impacts of sitting too much by teaming up with an office buddy and taking walking breaks every so often. Working from home? Get up and do some laundry or water the garden between meetings and projects. Your body will thank you.
2. Not Drinking Enough Water
When you’re feeling tired, overwhelmed, or overworked, it’s often habitual to head for the closest coffee station. There’s nothing wrong with a cup or two of coffee every day, but are you drinking enough water?
If the answer is no, you could be setting yourself up for joint soreness, fatigue, headaches, and even kidney problems. A simple rule of thumb is to drink a glass of water 20 minutes before every meal. Make sure you offset caffeinated and alcoholic beverages with a glass of water in between to hydrate.
3. Chronic Stress
Whatever the cause, chronic stress can lead to a slew of problems that may cause lasting damage and follow you into old age. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious every day, it’s time to make some serious lifestyle changes.
Chronic stress can lead to a lack of sleep, substance abuse, and even more subtle symptoms like hair loss. Androgenic alopecia stages come on quickly and suddenly – don’t let stress lead to serious damage. Consult your physician and treat your mental health seriously to avoid burnout.
4. Extreme Dieting
As you ponder lifestyle changes to better your health, you may be tempted to embark on a new diet or try diet pills. There’s nothing wrong with taking gradual steps to improve your appearance. But be skeptical of methods that promise quick weight loss, eliminate entire food groups, or encourage the regular use of “diet pills.”
Such dieting can cause problems like metabolic issues, extreme weight fluctuation, and gastrointestinal issues. Stick to more moderate changes like reducing sugar and alcohol or increasing the amount of vegetables you eat daily.
5. High-Impact Workouts
Exercising is a great way to enhance your health and stay active as you age, but don’t overdo it. Even seasoned athletes should be advised to learn their limits and progress slowly with the help of a personal trainer or coach.
If you’ve been inactive for a while, consult your physician and start out slowly with low-impact activities like yoga or swimming to get back into regular habits and a positive mindset toward fitness.
6. Ignoring Regular Checkups
It’s easy to push aside regular checkups, especially if you feel healthy. That trip to the dentist or optometrist is essential – so is your yearly physical. Men and women entering perimenopause or middle age should be especially cautious and discuss bone density, calcium intake, and any troubling concerns affecting health and well-being with their physicians.
If you notice any subtle changes in your body, it’s better to get ahead of the game and bring it up at your next appointment.
7. Overusing Social Media
It’s easy to fall into the trap of scrolling before bedtime and right when you wake up. But how much is too much? Stay in tune with your body’s signals. If using social media is causing feelings of tension or stress, that’s a surefire sign that it’s time to cut back.
If you’re having trouble ditching this bad habit, replace it with another hobby. Try reaching for a book or playing a board game with your family instead. Those elevated signs of stress are sure to level out as you reduce your screen time.
By making some small but meaningful lifestyle changes, you’ll not only be modeling good self-care routines for your family, but you’ll also reduce harmful effects on your health too. Taking care of others means taking care of yourself first. There’s no better time than now to act.