With the average life expectancy higher today than ever before it’s easy for most to assume that we are leading happier and healthier lifestyles that directly contribute to this kind of longevity.
Unfortunately, research shows that this isn’t exactly the case.
In fact, while most people would love nothing more than to learn how to achieve optimal health and wellness these days the reality is many people feel as though they are unhealthy, overweight, overtired, and overstressed.
The research shows that this to be the case as well. It looks like the only reason that the average life expectancies climbing higher and higher these days are because of improved medical care options and a period of relative safety, peace, and prosperity around the globe.
You don’t have to look at the raw data to know that something isn’t right, either.
A quick look around at the majority of people around you (including those in your family and your social circle) which show you at a glance that most folks just aren’t happy with their health, their well-being, or the lifestyle habits they feel are contributing to their own healthiness.
Folks today aren’t exercising as often as they should be and we are truly digging our own graves with our teeth, filling our bodies with food that is anything but fuel for longevity and good health. Our immune systems are under attack, inflammation is wreaking havoc on our bodies, and our mental health and emotional vitality as a collective species feels like it’s at an all-time low as well.
Thankfully though, not all is doom and gloom.
We’re starting to see a real Cultural Revolution take place with people getting serious about their health and happiness.
Farm to table and locally sourced food culture has really taken off, with people fighting back against processed snacks, over sugared and salted foods, and the Standard American Diet (SAD) that has done a real number on more than one generation.
People are also looking to move more their bodies and exercise frequently than they have been in our recent past.
Modern technology and our modern world in general have made it easy to lead a very sedentary lifestyle. But the sedentary lifestyle has totally devastated our health from top to bottom. We just didn’t evolve to sit on our backsides all day long.
Gym membership purchases are up, community fitness groups are popping up left and right, and people are starting to take a different look at training as opposed to “getting exercise” these days. All of this helps contribute significantly to a healthy lifestyle – and it’s helping people learn how to live longer, too.
What a Healthy Lifestyle Looks Like ; Why It’s Important
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all healthy lifestyle but there are definitely principles that healthier people lived by compared to those that are unhappy with the way they look and the way they feel.
Above all else, people that want to figure out how to achieve optimal health and wellness are really focusing on three core areas:
- They are embracing the benefits of eating healthy diets
- They are exercising/training not just their bodies but their minds at least five days a week
- They are getting at least eight hours of sleep on a regular and consistent basis
Everything else these incredibly healthy people do is simply a cherry on top of these three core principles.
If you’re able to focus like a laser on these three areas yourself you’ll not only instantly understand what is a healthy lifestyle and why is it important but you’ll be able to live that healthy, happy, energized lifestyle for years and years to come.
Those looking to get healthier would be wise to focus almost exclusively on these three cornerstones. If you put in the work to make these three aspects of part of your day-to-day life everything else just sort of falls into place.
When your decision-making and habits begin to revolve around these foundational elements to healthiness changing your life for the better becomes an almost inevitability.
Benefits of a Healthy Diet
One of the indisputable healthy lifestyle facts that cannot be refuted is that people who eat healthier (and smarter) almost always live longer, more energized, and more successful lives than those that do not.
Sure, every now and again you have an outlier that lives to 150 smoking big cigars, eating fried chicken, and hasn’t moved off of their favorite couch for 50 years. But the majority of people that are healthy and happy well into their twilight years are those that ate smarter than everyone else.
Unfortunately, finding the right diet for optimum health and wellness today is like panning for gold. You have to sift through a lot of nonsense to find something worthwhile.
We live in a world where new diets pop up left and right, take hold in the cultural zeitgeist and become the “next big thing” before something else comes along and knocks it off its perch and turns that previously healthy way of eating into the worst thing you could do for your body.
Marketers and advertisers are constantly looking for ways to push us into different diets, usually to sell different products, different supplements, and different lifestyle decisions and habits more than to help us lead happy and healthy lifestyles.
Thankfully though, modern science and research has pretty much come to a general consensus of how healthy humans should go about composing their diet.
As a general rule, you want to stick to a diet that is:
- Based around healthy sources of lean protein and dietary fats
- Keeps carbohydrate intake relatively low
- Eliminates white sugar and processed foods, as well as excessive amounts of sodium
- Includes food as close to its natural form as possible
There’s a reason why the Paleo approach to eating has taken off like a Roman candle of late, and that’s because it is a way of eating that is designed to closely mimic the way that our ancient ancestors ate – long before Chef Boyardee, Kraft macaroni and cheese, Sour Patch Kids, and Coca-Cola became staples of our daily diet.
An approach like this focuses on lean sources of protein, and all but excluding traditional carbohydrates (like grains, wheat, and pasta), strips out sugar and processed foods entirely, and has you consume real sources of food for your nutrition as opposed to processed meals with nutritional information filled with unpronounceable ingredients and chemical cocktails.
Almost immediately after transforming your daily diet you’ll start to see some pretty big benefits come tumbling in.
For starters, you’ll be able to lose a lot of excess weight (and usually lose it much faster than you ever thought possible).
You’ll lose water that you have been retaining, will melt fat faster, and will almost always start to build at least a little bit of lean muscle mass – and even more if you’re exercising regularly, too.
Secondly, you’ll start to feel more energized on a consistent basis.
You won’t have to reach for stimulants like caffeine and nicotine to get you up when you are feeling tired and fatigued, and you won’t have to rely on sugar highs – or worry about sugar crashes – throughout the day any longer, either.
Instead you’ll be naturally energized from the moment you wake up to the moment that you fall asleep thanks to smarter dietary decisions.
Maybe most importantly is that you’ll be able to eliminate a lot of the inflammation that causes so many illnesses, diseases, and disorders up and down our lives.
Inflammation is a horrific thing that can tear your body and your wellness apart from the inside out. Worst of almost of us aren’t even aware of how much our diet triggers inflammation and how constant and chronic this problem is.
With smarter dietary decisions those problems disappear almost completely.
Exercise and Your Mind
It’s obvious that you’ll also want to exercise physically on a regular basis to enjoy the full benefits of healthy living.
Not only will you burn fat and build muscle, but you’ll also improve your circulatory system, your cardiovascular system, and your overall strength and endurance levels.
Your energy will be improved with regular physical training as well. The sounds a little bit counterintuitive – work out to feel more energized – but it works wonders to refresh and recharge your body. This also helps you get a lot more restful sleep each night.
At the same time, some of the benefits of exercise go well beyond the physical realm. There are a lot of mental health benefits that you’ll enjoy when you regularly exercise your body and your brain.
To start, regular exercise improves your overall circulation. When your blood starts pumping it moves oxygen throughout your body a lot more efficiently – and that means that your brain receives a lot more oxygen and fresh blood, too.
This goes on to stimulate a number of biochemical changes throughout the brain that can:
- Boost overall cognition and mental capabilities
- Reduced feelings of stress, anxiety, pressure, and overwhelm
- Increase your memory and decision-making capabilities (especially in the prefrontal cortex)
- Improves your overall levels of coordination and balance and
- Helps you to learn new skills and digest new information more effectively
Recent studies conducted at Harvard University show that regular exercise also works to armor the brain against neurological disorders and diseases. You’ll be able to protect future you from heart disease, stroke, diabetes but conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and similar neurological issues as well with regular exercise.
Being Mindful - What Does It Mean?
We as a society are also learning more and more about the benefits of mindfulness and how it improves the rest of our health and well-being.
When digging into what does mindfulness mean the entire concept is pretty simple and straightforward – you’re looking to achieve an internal state of being that allows you to be fully present in the moment, where of what you’re doing while not being overly reactive by what’s happening around or to you.
Humans have been practicing mindfulness since the dawn of time, with some religions (particularly Eastern religions) really embracing the idea of mindfulness and leading into the many health benefits it promises and promotes.
By learning how to be present, how to free your mind from clutter, and to push away thoughts and emotions that would seek to control you or exert undue influence on your day-to-day life (or your well-being) you’re able to gain a lot more control over your health and your lifestyle.
The magic of mindfulness is very, very real.
The Magic of Mindfulness
For some people just discovering mindfulness the whole idea of controlling your body, your health, and your vitality with nothing more than your thoughts and your ability to be present feels a little “woo-woo” and out there.
It turns out though that science has pretty conclusively proven that there are some significant health benefits of mindfulness and that they dovetail nicely with the benefits that have been anecdotally shared by regular practitioners of this approach.
In 2013, a study conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital showed that an eight week mindfulness training program to help patients struggling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder produced stunning results. Those that went through the program were later diagnosed with significantly reduced levels of stress and anxiety compared to those in the control group that did not.
Mindfulness was also found to lower feelings of anxiety and depression in a study conducted by the American Psychological Association.
In this case, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was implemented over an eight week block of time. This eight week training protocol Inc. yoga, body awareness, and daily breathing exercises all with a focus on mindfulness and aimed at individuals that were dealing with diagnosed clinical depression.
At the end of the eight week block of time more than 90% of those that had previously been diagnosed with clinical depression were either dealing with no depression feelings at all or significantly reduced feelings and believed that they would get even better with more mindfulness.
A 2010 study published in Consciousness and Cognition Journal showed a major improvement in overall cognition and mental acuity after regular mindfulness training. Even just a brief burst of mindfulness sessions conducted over a four day block of time improved visual-spatial processing, working memory, and decision-making significantly.
Achieving Health ; Wellness to Live Longer
There are a lot of diet and exercise live longer statistics out there that we can point to that show you how you can overhaul and improve your quality of life almost immediately.
At the end of the day, though, you are in the driver seat and only you can decide whether or not you’re going to implement the things we shared above to improve your quality of life today, tomorrow, and for years into the future.
We all deal with a lot of stress, a lot of pressure, and a lot of overwhelm just living life in our modern world. Taking full responsibility for your health and wellness feels like a lot of work at first but it’s the only investment that is guaranteed to pay outsized dividends for the rest of your life.
Lean into this responsibility and you’ll start to notice huge changes almost right away.
Ignore your health and wellness and even the greatest medical advances and innovations may not be enough to help you spend the rest of your life happy, healthy, and energized.