Everyone wants to know the secret to a healthy and happy life. At last, the wait is over! Here are 10 things healthy people all seem to have in common: 1. They Eat Breakfast Of the most successful losers in the National Weight Loss Registry—people who’ve lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for more than a year—78 percent eat breakfast every day. For many of them, the morning meal is as simple as a bowl of healthy cereal with fruit. A good breakfast helps them avoid the kind of hunger that can send the lesser person to the vending machine mid-morning for a pack of powdered doughnuts.
2. They Exercise Healthy people usually can’t live without their exercise—both figuratively and literally. Not only does it help them lose and maintain their weight and avoid obesity related disease such as heart disease and diabetes, it’s nature’s anti-anxiety potion, helping to reduce stress and head off depression and anxiety. In fact, studies have found that regular exercise is just as effective as medication for treating depression. Exercise also boosts brain power. Studies have found that it elevates levels of a brain chemical linked to learning, higher thinking and decision-making.
3. They Eat Lots of Fruits and Vegetables Harvard studies have confirmed that eating plenty of vegetables and fruit (five to nine servings a day—and most servings are a cup or half a cup) can lower your blood pressure, prevent heart disease, stroke and some kinds of cancer, protect your eyes, and keep blood sugar stable so you don’t have any binge-worthy moments during the day.
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4. They Hang with Their Peeps Barbara Streisand made the sentiment famous in her Broadway star turn in ‘Funny Girl:’ “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” They’re also the healthiest. Not having many friends may predispose you to an early death as much as smoking cigarettes, being an alcoholic and being obese do, said one study from Brigham Young University. If you don’t have loads of pals, think about volunteering. You get a big benefit from doing unto others, studies say: You feel less alone and depressed; you’re less likely to have high blood pressure, and feeling charitable and acting on it makes you feel better about yourself.
5. They Get Enough Sleep The healthiest people make an effort to get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. That helps them stay cheerful, improves their memory, and avoid accidents. It may also ward off cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Studies have found that a poor night’s sleep can lead to binge eating the next day.
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6. They Look on the Bright Side Optimists—people who see the glass as half full—are more likely to be healthy both physically and emotionally. They’re more likely to do what it takes to live a healthy life in part because they believe their efforts will pay off in a happier, healthier and longer life, And they’re right. A 2013 Danish study published in the journal Circulation found that patients with heart disease who had a positive outlook on life outlived those with a more negative view. They were more likely to exercise, eat healthy, and they reduced the levels of damaging stress hormones in their bodies.
7. They Express Their Gratitude Healthy people may not have everything they want, but they’re grateful for everything they do have. According to Robert Emmons, Ph.D., arguably the world’s leading research on gratitude, people who have “an attitude of gratitude” have strong immune systems, better blood pressure, fewer aches and pains, sleep better, and take better care of themselves. They’re also happier. Emmons and other researchers recommend that you keep a gratitude journal in which you remind yourself of all the gifts, grace and good things you enjoyed that day—even if it seemed like an all-round bad day. Look for a gratitude journal you can download to your smartphone so you never forget.
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8. They Reach Out and Touch Someone Physical human contact can boost your mood, bolster your immune system, calm you down, and help you reduce aches and pains. It can be a brief touch, a bear hug, an arm around the shoulder, a massage or even sex. A study at Pennsylvania’s Wilkes University found that people who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of an infection-fighting compound in their saliva than people who didn’t have sex as often. Don’t forget your non-human buddies. Studies show that petting and cuddling your pets can also lower your blood pressure, boost your self-esteem, and make you healthier.
9. They Take Time for Themselves Scientists call it “self-care,” and healthy people know that “me time” is necessary to recharge, make time for healthy lifestyle habits like exercising or meditation.
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10. They Don’t Run Away From Challenges As scary as it is, facing challenges and obstacles in your life helps you develop resilience—not only the ability to bounce back, but to learn skills to make other obstacles that come your way less stressful. University of Michigan research Barbara Frederickson, PhD, says that each obstacle and challenge we face makes the next one a little less scary. We’re less inclined to react immediately with the fight-or-flight response that raises blood pressure and heart rate and triggers the flow of damaging stress hormones. They act as a “buffering function,” she writes, that act as “a useful antidote to the problems associated with negative emotions and ill health.”
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