The Habits of the Highly Healthy
The healthiest, longest-living people all share many common practices, routines, and habits. It has been said, “Repetition is the mother of skill.” Well let me add that “repetition” is also the mother of health. By consistently engaging in certain habits, you can enjoy a healthier and longer life.
It’s not in your genes. In fact, studies have shown that only about 20% of all people have a true genetic predisposition that places certain limitations on their health and longevity. Could it be that the studies showing hereditary (gene) correlations between parent and child (genes) is more a matter of the parent and child sharing the same conditioning or the same unhealthy habits? If so, then that means that for most people, it’s more of what they do (their habits) than their genes (hereditary traits).
Perhaps, it’s time you throw out your limitations.
Suppose you dismiss the notion of genes that, because of age, sex, ethnicity, or another hereditary trait, you can’t be one of the healthiest men or women on the planet.
By simply completing the same routines and habits of the world’s healthiest, longest-living people, you can easily join their ranks. You can become healthier. You can live longer. Today, it’s possible to live past our average life expectancy of 78.7 years and to do so in good-health. We now have the capacity to live comfortably into our 90s.
So, let’s explore some of the core habits of “the highly healthy” that will very likely work for you too.
Movement is the 800-pound gorilla.
And, pound for pound, no other health habit comes close to this powerhouse. There’s no denying it; and there’s no getting around it. Your DNA, evolution, and body demand that you move. Your health demands regular physical activity.
The world’s “highly healthy” men and women respect this powerful habit by giving their bodies regular, consistent, physical activity. And, not all “highly healthy” people join gyms or fitness clubs. Many simply choose to:
- Engage in natural, functional forms of activity such as, gardening, housework, and yard work
- Enjoy walking and/or running an average of 30 minutes daily
Highly healthy people appreciate the benefits that only physical activity can provide, such as, increased ability to focus, less depression or anxiety, longevity, energy, and heightened creativity.
Purpose and Connection
Long ago, things weren’t always so easy and convenient for the human race.
In those times, survival often kept people pre-occupied and busy every day. Fast-forward to today, and you find the purpose of “surviving” to be more of an after-thought.
The point is that “survival” has been man’s number one purpose for countless centuries. Without that overriding purpose, you are free to indulge in any number of other “purposeful” activities.
Unfortunately, many people haven’t defined their purpose. And, it’s hard to hit a target you can’t see. So, this often causes some people to feel empty inside, detached, and yearning for something more.
Highly healthy men and women realize that purpose is a void that’s better filled than left empty. That’s why they often:
- Find something bigger than themselves to focus on, and strive to achieve
- Work in fields they enjoy, and are more than just financially-rewarding
- Serve their community, nation, and family
A fast way to finding your purpose is to sit down with a pen and notepad and to start writing. In the center of the pad write, “MY PURPOSE” and circle it. Next, draw four lines. One that extends from the top, one that extends from the right, another that extends out of the bottom, and finally one more that extends from the left.
On the line extending from the top write, “Values.” On the line extending from the right, write the word, “Passions.” On the line extending from the bottom write, “Talents;” and finally on the line extending from the left write, “Skills/expertise.”
Write until your hand hurts – anything and everything that falls under those categories. As you write pay attention to your emotions. Which words conjure up thoughts, laughter, tears, give you goose bumps, or scare you so much you feel as if you may just pee in your pants? See example below:
Photo: Justin Miller
Circle those words. Your purpose may lie in them.
Often times, “the highly healthy” find their “purpose” in maintaining valuable “connections.” Connections are social relationships, and the human race is a social race. Our need for “social” interaction has been hardwired in our DNA over the numerous centuries. Our ancestors were forced to be social in order to survive. Tribes, small bands, communities, and towns all created a social atmosphere, while simultaneously promoting and protecting the well-being of all of its members.
Social relationships can provide us positive emotions and feelings of well-being like nothing else. And so, “the highly healthy” embrace “connections” by:
- Cultivating personal, in-person “social networks”
- Living with people or close by those who comprise their most precious relationships
- Joining and participating regularly in religious or spiritual services
- Meditating and/or praying
There are several mindset traits of “the highly healthy.”
Thoughts have long been known to cause profound changes within a person’s body and to the state of their health. Thoughts are what trigger emotions – good and bad. Unpleasant thoughts produce painful, aggravating feelings. Additionally, negative thoughts create stress that manifests in the body and wreaks havoc on every physical aspect of a person’s being. However, pleasant thoughts produce pleasurable, soothing feelings.
“The highly healthy” realize that their thoughts are better directed than left to roam. Therefore, to maximize their positive feelings, they take the time to toss out any “stinking-thinking” and replace them with positive thoughts. They don’t fall prey to addictions because they actively manage the most powerful pharmacy – their state of mind.
The result is both better feelings and a healthier body. That’s why highly healthy people:
- Show gratitude and give thanks, every day
- Forgive others, and free themselves from the destructive, negative thoughts that would otherwise constantly fill their minds
- Accept and acknowledge their fears, but move forward with their life
- Trust their gut or intuition because they realize that it’s often an excellent decision-maker
- Bounce back from troubles without seeing temporary setbacks as permanent failures
Success in life, work, and health require effort and planning.
Yet, few of life’s great achievements happen overnight. Highly healthy people know that becoming and remaining healthy is a process that takes time.
And that’s why they develop “pacing” habits in order to keep their health in optimal condition. When it comes to joining the ranks of “the highly healthy,” you’ll have to learn to pace yourself… by knowing when “less” of certain things will provide you “more” benefits.
Less is More
An important part of pacing yourself involves recognizing when “less is actually more.”
“The highly healthy” have experienced the pain of having over-committed themselves only to find that despite being involved in several activities, they enjoyed none of them. Moderation is the key.
And, that’s why “the highly healthy” tend to:
- Embrace the simple solution vs. the complex approach
- Avoid trying to be “all things to all people” embracing the power of a positive no.
- Take breaks throughout their day to relax, nap, socialize, or read. Fifty minutes of work followed by 10 minutes of break-time. Or try the Pomodoro principle.
Additionally, when it comes to eating, super-healthy people maintain habits to:
- Stop eating when only 70 to 80% full, instead of stuffing themselves
- Eat smaller meals with smaller portions
- Eat less late in the day… and very lightly, if at all, before going to bed
And, in keeping with their mindset of moderation, highly healthy people realize that there are certain foods that are worse than others. Many require you to pace your consumption of them.
Yet despite attempting to tackle every unhealthy food, “the highly healthy” wisely choose to eradicate the worse food – enemy #1 – sugar.
The healthiest people realize that sugar is addicting, and their body functions better and more effectively without it. So, instead of going allowing sugar to destroy their health, “the highly healthy” have habits in which they:
- Eat moderate amounts of fruits on occasion
- Indulge in desserts and sweets no more than one day per week, often known as their “junk-food day” or a “day off”
- Avoid sugar in all it’s hidden forms, including juices, sodas, etc.
Studies have shown that a plant-based diet has many health benefits. A diet rich in the right vegetables has long been known to help reduce a person’s risks for health issues, such as:
- High-blood pressure
- High-blood sugar
- Unhealthy cholesterol levels
- And many other health problems
Highly healthy people have developed the habit of enjoying plant-based foods everyday. And a number of them eat as much as 6 to 9 servings each day. To make it a bit easier on yourself simply strive to eat a serving of veggies every time you eat.
Prioritize eating veggies every time you eat. One to two fist-sized servings should do the trick. You can use resources like this to help you choose the best ones.
Countless studies and research have been done in the realm of sleeping. Scientists want to know how sleep affects the body. In their sleep studies of humans, they discovered the incredible and essential role sleep plays in our life.
Getting sufficient sleep can improve:
- Immune Function
Highly healthy people are committed to giving their bodies adequate sleep every night. That means these men and women sleep between 7 to 9 hours every single night.
And, with such a long list of sleep benefits, there’s little doubt why many of the world’s “highly healthy” people are also “highly successful.”
Join the “Highly Healthy”
There are medications that actually get rid of bacterial infections and other ailments. However, there has never been… and will likely never be… a magic pill for good health. Instead, it requires each person, to incorporate certain habits and routines into their lives.
Today, men and women in their 60s, 70s, and 80s are running marathons. That’s 26.2 miles, in a matter of hours, not days. So, it’s important for you to realize, believe, and know that there is no limit to how healthy you can become at any age. All you need to do is to embrace and adopt the habits of “the highly healthy.”
It’s hard to live a limitless life if you can’t get out of bed.
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