Nine components of a healthy lifestyle might seem like a little much to some people but I believe that everything I put into this list is important in order to be a truly healthy and satisfied person.
I really did try to make it smaller but whenever I took one element out I felt that it wasn’t quite right.
I’ve also put in a few things which I normally don’t talk about very much here at Quick at Home Fitness but I feel that they all fall under the category of living a healthy and fit life.
So, without further ado, here are my 9 components of a healthy lifestyle:
I listed exercise first as I feel it is truly the base of living a healthy lifestyle.
Our bodies are amazing and will always adapt themselves to what we ask of them.
The only problem with this is that it can also be a double edged sword.
If we use our bodies regularly and push them to do more difficult or strenuous tasks they will continue to grow stronger and remain steadfast vehicles for us throughout our entire lives.
With regular and consistent effort we can train our bodies to lift tremendous weight and perform amazing acts of endurance, such as running a marathon in a desert or deadlifting twice our own bodyweight.
But the flipside to this is that if we don’t use our bodies they will continue to degenerate.
If all you do is sit in a car on the way to work and then stand on an escalator to get to your office followed by a night of sitting on your coach watching TV your body will adapt to this lifestyle.
It will deem any muscle or bone density that would be required to do anything beyond that lifestyle to be unnecessary and get rid of it as excess.
That’s how people end up getting winded just walking up a flight of stairs.
It’s necessary, especially in the modern world, to regularly push our bodies outside of their day to day comfort zones in order to make them strong and healthy.
If we fail to do this we will eventually face a host of problems as we grow older, ranging from brittle bones to heart disease.
Not to mention the fact that no one wants to feel frail.
Being physically strong makes you have more energy throughout the day and makes you feel more confident and empowered in everything that you do.
Being in a state of physical fitness also stems far beyond just your physical body but to your mind as well.
Recent studies have shown that regular exercise can play a major role in keeping your mind sharp and even preventing dementia as you grow older.
So make sure that you fit some form of regular exercise or physical play into your weekly schedule.
Sleep is probably one of the most ignored components of a healthy lifestyle.
Many of us in the modern world live hectic lifestyles where we push ourselves hard to achieve more and more.
Unfortunately, sleep is usually the first thing which we sacrifice.
Hundreds of years ago this was never an issue since without any electric lighting it just wasn’t feasible to stay up late.
When the sun went down every one began to wind down from their days and were soon fast asleep.
Fast forward to the present moment, however, and we live in a completely different world.
With the advent of modern lighting, computers, and the internet we can literally work 24 hours a day if we wanted to.
The problem, though, is that our bodies and minds just aren’t designed for that kind of schedule.
It’s true that there are some rare people who can live well on only 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night but for the majority of us it’s closer to 8.
Any less than that and our bodies just aren’t going to be at 100%.
When we don’t sleep enough or don’t keep to a regular schedule for sleeping our bodies and minds suffer as our internal organs and systems are incapable of fully regenerating and healing themselves as they should.
If we’re also exercising and trying to grow stronger this means that inadequate sleep will drastically hamper our growth.
Our skeletal muscles and ligaments just won’t have the time to heal properly and grow stronger.
This can lead to injuries as well.
So take it from me, get your full eight hours of sleep.
I definitely know how hard it can be and as a father I know that it’s sometimes impossible but I can definitely feel the difference in my mood and performance at work the next day when I do get a full 7 to 8 hours of sleep.
Nutrition is one aspect of a healthy lifestyle that people make far more complicated than they need to.
The main reason for this is the prevalence of fad diets and the obsession with losing weight in our culture.
Because of this it can be hard to find some straight talk on exactly what a person should be eating to just be healthy rather than lose body fat.
The most important part of eating healthy is to make sure that you’re eating a large quantity of whole and unprocessed foods.
Basically, the more things that you eat which come prepackaged and ready to eat from inside of a wrapper the more strange chemicals and empty calories you’re pumping into your body.
Try to cook more of your own food at home using plenty of vegetables and organic meats.
Doing that one thing alone will dramatically improve most people’s diets.
The one thing which I do tend to agree with, that has become popular in modern fitness culture, is the fact that we did not evolve to eat the quantity of refined sugar which we constantly consume in our modern diets.
Imagine the hunter gatherer diet which we subsisted off for hundreds of thousands of years.
This was a diet which relied heavily on roots, nuts, seeds, and wild game for sustenance.
Nowhere was the heavy reliance we now have on a steady stream of refined carbohydrates such as bread, rice, and pasta which now makes up more than half of our daily calories.
By increasing the quantity of organic meats, vegetables, and healthy fats in our meals we can drastically improve our overall health.
The most important thing you can do, though, is to stay away from any pre-packaged food.
Just by doing that one thing you are guaranteed to dramatically improve your nutrition without having to get into anything more complicated.
4) Social Interaction
People are social animals.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert we all need social interaction with our peers to stay happy and healthy.
In fact a recent study by Brigham Young University found that not having friends was just as unhealthy for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being obese as far as your life expectancy was concerned.
Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes as well as someone to share the good times with and have a few laughs.
I also doubt that having 500 friends on Facebook is exactly the same as having face to face interactions in real life.
So make sure that you that you take the time to nurture the relationships that you have; whether with your significant other, long time friends from childhood, or even just chatting with your co-workers.
All of these small and big interactions play an important part in our overall health and well-being at a very deep level.
5) Stress Management
Learning to manage our stress is a very important part of living a healthy lifestyle.
Too much stress from work, our commute, and other responsibilities can flood our bodies with the types of hormones that have evolved to respond to life threatening situations, such as being chased by a bear.
Our bodies were not meant to usually have high levels of these in our bloodstreams as these kinds of stressors were very rare for historic humanity.
However, in our modern world we are constantly pushing ourselves and having to make split second decisions that will have a huge importance on our survival.
Every morning commute we have to slam on the breaks at least once to react to a sudden threat.
This causes the body to go into a fight or flight mode, even if it’s only for a second or two, in order to deal with the situation.
In order for our bodies to wind down again they have to release another batch of hormones, such as cortisol, to tell our nervous system to relax and begin preparing for the next possible threat.
Because of these constant low level, and sometime high level stressors, we experience throughout the day we often have too many of these chemicals in our blood stream.
For example, cortisol will tell our body to calm down but also to begin storing calories as fat in order to replace any lost energy from the “bear” we just ran away from.
In order to help ourselves stay cool and relaxed we can try several different strategies.
One of my favorite methods is to try and meditate regularly.
Meditating will not only help your body and mind to relax but will also help you to develop mindfulness in your daily life.
Developing mindfulness helps you stay calm under pressure and to keep yourself from going into a “fight or flight” mode when it isn’t necessary.
Another thing to make sure you do is to spend time with family and friends.
Spending time with those you care about can help you to put everything into perspective and let your individual stresses from the day wash away.
Also, just making sure to get enough sleep every night and getting in some exercise will also help you to release stress and remain balanced.
6) Have a Sense of Purpose
This may seem a little far-fetched to some but I strongly believe that having a sense of purpose is critical to living a healthy lifestyle.
When you wake up in the morning and you know what you’re doing, and more importantly why you’re doing it, then you can go through your day with a clear sense of purpose.
You are not as easily distracted by things which can detract from what you want to accomplish.
And by extension, when you finish your day you are more likely to feel a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that you have moved closer to your goals as you know what they are and why you are pursuing them.
I’m also convinced that having this sense of purpose can make you physically stronger.
Although this is far from a scientific study I haven’t been sick once since my daughter was been born two years ago.
Before this time I used to have common colds and suffer from regular sore throats.
However, I now have a much more clearly defined since of purpose.
My body can’t fail me because I always have to be ready and can’t afford to not be there or not be able to pursue the goals which I set for myself as they now encompass more than just myself.
When I wake up in the morning the previous feelings which I used to have about being tired or not wanting to work seem miniscule in comparison to the reason that I’m going to work.
Having a clear sense of purpose helps one to overcome the minor adversities which we face during our day and put them into perspective with what our greater goals are.
We are also more likely to stay focused and therefore feel a sense of accomplishment as we move closer to what we want for ourselves and those closest to us.
7) Grow and Learn
One component of a healthy lifestyle that can often be forgotten is the fact that all of us must constantly learn and grow in order to be happy and productive people.
As Heraclitus once stated, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
In order to keep up with an ever changing world we must all continue to learn new things and grow and adapt to an ever changing landscape.
If we don’t we risk becoming stagnant and eventually bored.
This growth doesn’t necessarily have to be professional or work related.
It can be a hobby or passion that we follow.
It could also just be general self-improvement as we strive to be the best that we can be.
The important thing is that we continue to challenge ourselves in order to feel alive and engaged in our lives.
8) Make Friends With Yourself
Part of learning and growing, I believe, is learning to make friends with yourself.
You have to learn to appreciate your strengths and accept your weaknesses.
Learn to try and grow and develop your strengths while not beating yourself up over your shortcomings.
It’s obviously ok to try and work on aspects of yourself that you want to improve but it’s ultimately impossible to become a perfect person.
It’s a better use of your time to try and focus on growing your strengths and structuring your life around them than to spend your time trying to eliminate all of your shortcomings to create a life that doesn’t necessarily suit who you are.
It’s important that we learn to accept who we are and learn to love ourselves or ultimately no one else will.
9) Be Grateful
The last component of a healthy lifestyle that I want to talk about is being grateful.
Being grateful means taking some time out of your day to truly appreciate what is around you or something which is a part of your life.
It could be something as simple as appreciating the beauty of a flowering tree as you pass by on your way to work or something deeper such as letting yourself really feel how lucky you are to have a loving partner who supports you in whatever you do.
Whatever it is you choose to think about it’s important to do this every day.
Just these small acts of gratitude can really improve your quality of life and some people would even say that feeling grateful for what you have is the key to true happiness.
No matter how much you may feel that the world is trying to beat the crap out of you right now I guarantee that there is something that you can feel grateful for.
In fact, if you turn on the news right now I’m sure you’ll see plenty of people who wish that they could have even half of what you have in your life right now.
So the next time that you’re really starting to feel sorry for yourself take a few minutes to appreciate something that you have in your life.
Try to do this every day and I promise that you’ll see a definite improvement in your overall feelings when you are facing rough times.
I hope that you found this list helpful and that it wasn’t too long.
Essentially I believe there are 9 components of a healthy lifestyle that everyone should pay some attention to as they go about their week:
- Social Interaction
- Stress Management
- Have a Sense of Purpose
- Grow and Learn
- Make Friends With Yourself
- Be Grateful
If you try to follow these I promise that you’ll be able to live a healthier and happier life.
Until next time, stay healthy, happy, and strong!