Healthy habits that can become part of your daily routine

A person’s habits can have a strong impact on his or her overall health. Unhealthy habits like smoking and living a sedentary lifestyle can increase a person’s risk for various conditions and diseases. On the flip side, healthy habits like eating a nutritious diet and getting enough sleep can bolster a person’s immune system and reduce his or her risk for various ailments.

Some healthy habits, like daily exercise, can be time-consuming. Busy adults may not have time to exercise vigorously each day, though the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services urges men and women to find time for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. But not all healthy habits take up time. In fact, adults can incorporate various healthy practices into their daily routines without skipping a beat.

· Take the stairs. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator can have a profound effect on overall health. According to Duke University, climbing just two flights of stairs combined per day can contribute to six pounds of weight loss over the course of a single year. In addition, a study from the North American Menopause Society found that stair climbing can help postmenopausal women reduce their risk for osteoporosis and help them lower their blood pressure.

· Drink more water. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that water helps the body maintain a normal temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and helps to rid the body of waste through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. Adults who are thirsty can choose water over soda or other sugary beverages. The CDC notes that sugary beverages like soda and sports drinks contain calories but little nutritional value, making water a healthier way for individuals to quench their thirst.

· Go for daily walks. Walking benefits the body in myriad ways. For example, the Harvard School of Public Health notes that women who walk 30 minutes per day can reduce their risk of stroke by 20 percent and potentially by 40 percent if they walk briskly. In addition, researchers at the University of Virginia Health System found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as men who walked less. A 15-minute walk around the neighborhood each morning coupled with a 15-minute walk after dinner can help adults dramatically improve their overall health.

· Eat more greens. Eating more greens is another healthy habit that doesn’t require a major overhaul of an individual’s lifestyle. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, are rich in vitamins A,C, E, and K. The Mayo Clinic notes that vitamin E alone can help people maintain their vision and promote a healthy reproductive system while also improving the health of the blood, brain and skin. The USDA also notes that green vegetables contain very little carbohydrates, sodium and cholesterol. Adults won’t have to reinvent the dietary wheel to incorporate more greens into their diets, and the results of doing so can have a significant, positive effect on their overall health.

The right habits can help people live healthier lives, and such habits need not require any major life changes.

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