8 habits for healthy living
Daily practices. Helpful tips.
These 8 habits may help you live healthier, longer and happier.
See how you’re doing on this list — and pick up tips to help you begin to make positive changes.
1. Exercise regularly.
- Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity a week.1
- Add strength exercises on two or more days a week.
- Start small if needed. Begin with 10 minutes of exercise at a time — and build from there.
2. Enjoy a variety of nutritious foods.
- Dish up a colorful blend of fruits and veggies daily.
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Choose healthy proteins, such as poultry (skinless), fish, eggs and beans.
- Select low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
3. Team up with your doctor.
- Have regular wellness visits.
- Ask if you’re up to date on vaccines and screenings.
- Manage chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure. Work with your doctor on a treatment plan that’s right for you.
- Check your benefit plan to see what services may be covered.
4. Aim for a healthier weight.
- Check your body mass index (BMI). It’s an estimate of your body fat based on your height and weight.
- Measure your waist. A large waistline raises the risk of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. Risk increases at 35 inches or more in women and 40 inches or more in men.
Note that BMI and waist circumference are screening tools only. They aren’t a diagnosis of actual body fat or health. For example, factors such as age and muscle mass can influence BMI. Consider these numbers a jumping-off point for a conversation with your doctor about your weight and health.
Keeping track: Have your doctor record your BMI along with your height and weight at your annual wellness visit.
5. Steer clear of tobacco.
- Talk with your doctor for help to kick a tobacco habit.
- Avoid secondhand smoke. Even low levels may harm your health.
- Get screened for lung cancer. If you’re 55 or older with a history of smoking, ask your doctor about screening.
6. Set sensible limits on alcohol.
- Know what’s considered problem drinking.
- Never drink and drive.
- Talk with your doctor if you need help with a drinking problem.
Many factors may affect your health. So be sure to talk with your doctor to get advice tailored to you and your needs.
7. Routinely get at least seven hours of sleep a night.
- Be consistent. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day.
- Turn off your devices before bed — and take time to relax.
- Keep your bedroom cool, comfortable and quiet.
8. Nurture positive mental health.
- Make time to connect with others. Maybe that’s friends, family, a faith group or a hobby club.
- Each day, do something you enjoy. Even grown-ups need time to play.
- Manage everyday stress with positive coping strategies.
- Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.
- Depending on your benefit plan, selection of a primary care physician may be required. Be sure to check your plan for specific coverage details.
American Academy of Family Physicians; American Psychiatric Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mayo Clinic; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force