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The Habits of the Highly Healthy

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

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:

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  • 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:

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Purpose

    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:

    Mindset

    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:

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    • 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

    Pace

    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

    Enemy #1

    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.

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    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.

    Plants

    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
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • 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.

    Shut-eye

    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:

    • Metabolism
    • Memory
    • Attention
    • Depression
    • Creativity
    • Inflammation
    • Learning
    • Immune Function
    • Longevity

    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.

    More by this author

    Justin Miller

    Healthy Lifestyle Architect

    Stop Existing and Start Living: How to Dramatically Change Your Life in Just One Week The Habits of the Highly Healthy How to Discover Who You Are And Then How To Behave Like It The Beginners Guide To Slacklining A New Way to Create a Bucket List

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    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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