Here are 7 habits of healthy people. Healthy isn't necessarily having a perfect body. Healthy isn't adhering to a 1000-calorie-a-day diet, either. Healthy is finding a way to manage physical, emotional and social health. All are important for lifelong health.
1) They're active
You don't need to run marathons or workout 7 hours a week to be healthy, but you do need to stay active. The old adage, move it or lose it, holds true when it comes to the health of the human body. Joints seize up when they're not mobilized, muscles break down when they're not used and lungs hold less oxygen when they're not opened up. Healthy people are not sedentary, they're active. They walk, they bend and they breath deeply. Exercise doesn't have to be a formal activity, you just have to move.
2) They value sleep
You might feel "fine" on five of sleep, but your body disagrees. If you want to be truly healthy, allowing your body to repair after a long day of breaking down, you need some shut eye. A study conducted at the University of Chicago looked at two groups of people, both on a low-calorie diet. One group slept 5.5 hours a night, and another group slept 8.5 hours a night. Interestingly enough, both groups lost the same amount of weight (7 pounds), but the sleep-deprived group lost mostly muscle in comparison to the rested group that lost mostly fat. <----This study was only conducted over a two week period! Bottom line: if you want to have a leaner, less fat body, get a full night of sleep.
3) They don't don't try to keep up with the Jones'
Happiness and health go hand-in hand. Theodore Roosevelt once said "comparison is the thief of joy," and he was right. In social psychology, it's called upward comparison - and people who do this regularly are a lot less happy than those who don't. Upward comparison is the act of comparing what you have against the possessions or abilities of someone else (i.e. a newer car, a bigger house, more money, a bigger circle of friends). If you're prone to upward comparison, become aware of it and minimize triggers where you can. This might mean spending less time on Facebook, an infinite resource of "highlight reels," but according to a University of Michigan study, you'll be a lot happier for it.
4) They eat healthy
Whether it's intuition or a good sense of clean foods versus processed foods, healthy people simply eat healthier. They avoid gimmicky diets and foods labeled as "fat free" or "low fat." Instead, they make a beeline for foods that are whole, clean and full of nutrients. Healthier eaters usually cook more than unhealthier eaters and make more time for the stove instead of the microwave.
5) They laugh
Laughter really is great medicine…especially when it comes to managing stress. Laughter decreases the release of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, while increasing the release of 'feel-good' endorphins. Laughter has also been shown to increase our body's natural killer cells and antibodies that act as a line of defense against foreign substances that might otherwise impact our immune system. Need a laugh? Watch a funny movie, read The Onion or check out these iPhone autocorrects.
6) They know how to say "No."
Setting boundaries and putting limits on how much you can do or give is an important indicator of overall health. When your plate is full - literally or figuratively - saying no will help to keep stress in check. Overextending your obligations takes a toll on your mental health while squeezing out all the important things that once had priority in your life (like diet and exercise).
7) They know how to let go
If that little mistake you made a couple years ago is still bothering you, or if you've spent hours regretting that thing you said to your friend last week, it's time to let go and move on. No one is perfect, but sometimes our brain hits a blip, constantly replaying something we wish never happened…but did. In fact, according to Stefanie Brassen, a neuroscientist at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, as we get older, people who have better emotional health and demonstrate the ability to let go, are happier.
Traci is a nationally recognized health and fitness expert who has been featured on The TODAY Show and Dr. Oz. Traci is available for corporate speaking events and wellness coaching, as well as private training. Contact Traci here.