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Dozen Good Habits for a Healthy Life

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Healthy Habit # 1: Eat Breakfast Every Morning

As reported at the 2003 American Heart Association conference, breakfast eaters are significantly less likely to be obese and get diabetes, compared with nonbreakfast eaters. It is very important that kids eat breakfast as it appears to enhance alertness and attention. It is also reported by ADA to enhance performance on standardized achievement tests.

Healthy Habit # 2: Add Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Your Diet

The AHA recommends a serving of fish two times per week.Fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon, are rich in two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition to their heart-health benefits, there is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids may also soothe an overactive immune system. Even though this benefit is still being studied, there appears to be a link between getting more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and reducing allergies, asthma, eczema, and autoimmune disorders.

Healthy Habit # 3: Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep is vital to good health and to mental and emotional well-being. The National Sleep Foundation reports that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely than others to develop psychiatric problems and to use health care services. Plus, sleep deprivation can negatively affect memory, learning, and logical reasoning. Make sure to get approximately 8 hours of sleep each night. Kids need more sleep, depending on their age

Healthy Habit # 4: Make Social Connections

Researchers found that community ties also help improve mental functioning. They also find that group activities can help keep the mind active and maintain desirable levels of serotonin -- the brain chemical associated with mood. Lack of social interaction will [decrease] serotonin levels.

Healthy Habit # 5: Exercise for Better Health

  • Helps control weight
  • Maintains healthy bones, muscles, and joints
  • Reduces risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Promotes psychological well-being
  • Reduces risk of death from heart disease
  • Reduces risk of premature death

Healthy Habit # 6: Practice Good Dental Hygiene

Flossing your teeth every day could add 6.4 years to your life, according to Michael Roizen, MD, author of RealAge. Researchers suspect that the bacteria that produce dental plaque enter the bloodstream. They say these bacteria are somehow associated with the inflammation that occurs with plaque that blocks blood vessels and causes heart disease. Other researchers have found links between oral bacteria and stroke, diabetes, and the birth of preterm babies and those that have low birth weight.

Healthy Habit # 7: Take Up a Hobby

Hobbies are enjoyable and relaxing activities.In a study of people who had undergone surgery, researchers found that people who were involved in hobbies before their operation had better recovery six months later, compared with people who did not have hobbies.

Healthy Habit # 8: Protect Your Skin

Reduce the risk of skin damage:

  • Always wear sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
  • Don a hat with a brim and wear other protective clothing.
  • Don't deliberately sunbathe.
  • Try to avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Healthy Habit # 9: Snack the Healthy Way

The ADA recommends five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day as part of a healthy diet. Incorporate veggies and fruits into your snacks.

Healthy Habit # 10: Drink Water and Eat Dairy

The body needs water to keep properly hydrated and individuals vary widely in how much water they need. Joints need it to stay in motion, and vital organs such as the heart, brain, kidney, and liver need it to work properly. The calcium in dairy, on the other hand, is known to be important for strong bones and teeth. Studies have also shown it can help prevent high blood pressure, kidney stones, heart disease, and colon cancer.

Healthy Habit # 11: Drink Tea

There is some evidence that tea may help in improving memory, and preventing cavities, cancer, and heart disease. Decafinated is best because cafinated tea can be dehydrating and sugary drinks can lead to weight gain.

Healthy Habit # 12: Take a Daily Walk

An eight-year study of 13,000 people also showed that people who walked 30 minutes daily had a significantly reduced chance of premature death compared with those who rarely exercised, reports the American Council on Exercise.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Walk to the store.
  • Window shop at the mall.
  • Leave your desk and visit your co-worker instead of sending him an email.
  • Walk and talk with friends instead of meeting for a meal.

BONUS TIP: Get plenty of fiber in your diet!

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