10 Healthy Habits for a Longer Happier Life!
The best defense is a good offense. Long-term health is the result of a good offense—proactive, preventive, healthy choices that have an impact on your health today, tomorrow, and beyond. To age well, start young. If you want to be a healthy, vital older person, start by being a healthy, vital younger person.
Good health is no accident; it’s a result of consistent healthy habits. Developing healthy habits now will ensure that you not only live long but live well. To ensure ongoing physical and emotional health as you age, start by reforming the simple choices you make each day.
1. Keep Moving
“The Body Thrives on Movement,” explains Bill Nurge, MA, exercise physiologist and personal trainer in Ketchum, Idaho. We are made to move. Movement is critical for loading the bones and the muscles and for maintaining bone and muscle density. When we stop moving, we get stiff and lose muscle mass, range of motion, bone density, and balance—which can have disastrous consequences. You don’t need to be a fitness junkie or a superstar athlete to stay healthy, but you do need to keep moving.
Nurge insists that variety is the key. We use our bodies in a variety of ways, so our exercise regimen should reflect that. “The more types of movement you do and the more varied the stimuli, the deeper your fitness will be,” he says. “Add different modalities that hit the body in different ways from different angles.”
Nurge recommends doing tri-planar exercises—those that move the body in all three planes of motion simultaneously. “The body doesn’t work in isolation,” he explains. “Do multijoint, total-body movements that work the body, force you to balance, and take the muscles through a range of motion.”
If this sounds complicated, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, Nurge jokes that it’s as simple as revisiting our youthful days on the jungle gym. “The jungle gym will keep you young with all that pushing, pulling, and twisting,” he says. But you don’t have to become a regular at the local playground to stay fit; just look for activities that force you to move in different directions and keep you accelerating and decelerating. For some people this could mean a soccer match, a game of tennis, or a specialized fitness class; others might enjoy walking, swimming, or playing with their children or grandchildren. Most important is to find activities you enjoy so that you’re more likely to continue to participate.
Movement doesn’t have to be exercise or drudgery—just incorporate variety and play into your daily routine. Keep it interesting. Vary the intensity, type, and duration of movement and focus on balance, stabilization, and mobilization. To stay healthy, maintain strength and balance, and prevent the risk of debilitating falls in older age, get moving and stay moving. If you have a sedentary job that keeps you at a desk all day, be sure to incorporate movement into your workday by getting up from your desk frequently. Take the stairs or take a brisk walk around the block at lunch—just keep moving.
“It’s use it or lose it when it comes to muscles, bones, and the nervous system,” Nurge says. “Don’t stop moving. Do something every day.”