Changing your habits is a process that takes longer than people realise. Often it takes a while before changes become new habits. But, once you adopt these new healthier habits into your everyday life, they may protect you from serious health problems in the future.
According to NIH (News In Health), regular things you do, from brushing your teeth to having a few drinks every night, can become habits. Repetitive behaviours that make you feel good can affect your brain in ways that create habits that may be hard to change. Habits often become automatic — they happen without much thought.
This is why making sure you include healthy habits repeatedly in your daily life is so important. Once you do these things for long enough, you will start doing them naturally without much thought. This is how it appears almost effortless to stay active and fit for some healthy people — they have been doing it for so long, it has become normal to them.
Here are six healthy habits to start including in your daily routine.
Start planning your meals throughout the week to make sure you get all the vitamins and proteins your body needs.
According to Healthline, meal planning can be a helpful tool if you’re trying to lose weight or improve your nutritional intake.
If you plan your meals properly and ensure you hit the right calorie intake for each meal, it can help you with weight loss while providing your body with the nutritious foods it needs to function and remain healthy.
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day.
Studies show that those who eat breakfast tend to lower their risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And those who don’t eat breakfast tend to weigh more and have more metabolic problems, according to Cleveland Clinic.
Lots of people mistake skipping breakfast as a positive thing, as they believe they are consuming fewer calories in the day. However, skipping breakfast is tied to a boost in appetite later in the day. This afternoon appetite often leads to overeating, unhealthy food choices, and consequently more calories.
Make sure you get enough sleep every single night.
Getting a good night’s sleep does more than make you feel refreshed the following morning.
According to Bupa, a lack of sleep can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Not only that, but poor sleep has also been linked to poor insulin regulation and resistance. So getting enough sleep is an important factor in looking after your cardiovascular health.
Drink lots of water to help your heart do its job.
According to the Heart Foundation, your heart is working constantly, pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood a day. By staying hydrated and drinking more water than you are losing, you help your heart do its job.
Dehydration can negatively affect your organs and bodily functions, including your heart and cardiovascular system. When you are dehydrated your blood volume, or the amount of blood circulating through your body, decreases. To compensate, your heart beats faster, increasing your heart rate and your blood pressure.
A hydrated heart can pump blood more easily, allowing the muscles in your body to work even better.
If you smoke, stop! Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health.
Stopping smoking has so many health benefits and it’s never too late to give up.
“Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked,” says the British Heart Foundation.
Smoking damages the lining of your arteries. This damage leads to a build-up of fatty material which narrows the artery. The narrowing of the artery can cause angina, a heart attack or a stroke.
“Smoking increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which includes coronary heart disease and stroke.”
Carbon monoxide also makes it harder for your heart to keep working. This is because the carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood. The low oxygen in your blood results in your heart having to pump harder to supply the body with the oxygen it needs to keep you alive.
The nicotine in cigarettes also causes your heart harm. The nicotine stimulates your body to produce adrenaline, which makes your heart beat faster and consequently raises your blood pressure, making your heart work harder.
For more information about the risks of smoking for your heart, including blood clotting, visit www.bhf.org.uk.
Just as exercise strengthens other muscles in your body, it helps your heart muscle stay strong too.
Regular exercise has been proven to increase your cardiovascular health. Exercise improves your heart health by lowering your blood pressure. It also helps with your cholesterol levels, and blood sugar regulation.
“Doing 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can help to reduce your risk of heart disease” — Heart Foundation.
“30 minutes a day is the sweet spot for nearly maximal health protection” — Harvard Health Publishing.
It’s never too late to start exercising more often. Everyone can benefit from more daily activity, whatever your age, size or physical condition.
With all that in mind, go to bed early tonight and rise and shine with a healthy cup of oats, grab your running shoes, and stay hydrated — it’s time to start your journey to a happier, healthier heart.