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Four Healthy Habits that are Never Too Late to Start

By July 1, 2017Live, Think

Although there are tons of different ways to lead a healthy lifestyle, there are a few common habits that the healthiest people in the world often practice. These healthy habits are neither dramatic nor difficult (no, you don’t have to do HIIT workouts every day), but instead represent greater lifestyle choices that are practiced by healthy people in every country, at every age.

The following are a few simple healthy habits that are easy to adopt, no matter what stage you’re at in life. While these healthy habits may seem obvious, they are often forgotten and are not pursued until the damaging results take place. Take care of your body with these simple tips:

1. Wear sunscreen.

Everyone needs sunscreen, regardless of age, gender or race. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lives, and the best way to prevent this is to wear sunscreen whenever you go outside (AKA every day). Wearing sunscreen not only prevents skin cancer, but also prevents the sun from damaging and aging your skin. 

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These days, sunscreen has evolved and become less sticky and oily, making it easy to add to your skincare regime. Many people get their protection through a daily moisturizer with SPF that they apply to their face and neck in the morning. Even if you haven’t worn sunscreen for years, start wearing it now to prevent further damage to your skin. While a tan may look good now, the effects of this sun exposure will be evident later in life. 

2. Drink water.

Everyone has heard the advice to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Although there’s no single number that fits all of us, The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters) of total beverages a day. This number increases if you engage in activity that makes you sweat or if you live in a hotter climate. 

Drinking water helps your kidneys remove toxins from your body, keeps your skin vibrant and moisturized, and prevents muscle fatigue. Because the effects are seen so quickly (have you ever drank water while dehydrated and immediately felt better?)this is definitely a healthy habit to adopt, no matter your age. 

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The best way to ensure you drink enough water is to track your intake throughout the day. Many of us carry around a reusable water bottle, so figure out how many bottles of water you need to drink to hit your goal. I try to drink a gallon of water a day, and I know that five of my bottle equals one gallon. If I haven’t refilled my bottle three times by 3 or 4 p.m., I need to speed up my drinking. If this is too intimidating, try to drink a little more each day and be aware of how much water you’re sipping (and how much you aren’t sipping). Being intuitive is the first step towards healthy behavior change, which includes staying hydrated.

3. Go to the doctor regularly.

Anyone else put off going to the doctor in college just because Mom wasn’t scheduling your appointments anymore? While it can be difficult to find a new doctor or dentist wherever you go to school, regular health exams and tests can help identify problems before they start, and dramatically increase the chances of treatment and cure.

Most university health centers offer check-ups and STD testing, and can offer recommendations for primary care physicians in the area. A yearly visit to the doctor and biannual cleaning at the dentist are a necessary check-in to ensure our bodies are functioning properly. 

4. Get quality sleep.

It may seem obvious that sleep is beneficial. Even without fully understanding what sleep does for our bodies, we know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible. Sleep is vital for many bodily functions that we need throughout our lives, like our metabolism, memory, learning, and emotional well-being. 

healthy habits that are never too late to startLike you’ve probably experienced after a good (or bad) night, the effects of your sleep occur almost instantly. Therefore, by improving your sleep, you’ll feel the benefits quickly. While the amount that a person needs to sleep every night differs for every person, finding your optimal number of hours is key. Do you feel tired if you get six hours of sleep instead of seven? Or if you get ten instead of eight (yes, it is possible to get too much sleep)?

Another step is to create a good sleep environment, void of distractions like electronics, light, or sound. Additionally, reserve your bed for just sleeping (not homework or eating) so that when you get into bed at night your body knows it’s time to sleep.

The key to a healthy life is prevention. All of the above actions are investments. If we treat our bodies well and invest in our health before they start showing signs of worry, we will live happier, healthier, and longer lives.  

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Author Lauren Folk

Lauren is a 3rd year student at Northeastern University who loves dogs, brunch, trashy reality TV and Crossfit (not necessarily in that order). When she's not studying for her Industrial Engineering classes, she can be found wandering around Boston or cooking for her friends. Follow her on Instagram at @lfolk or @thebuffchix!

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