Senior Asian woman embracing her daughter in a park after a walk for health and wellness. Both are smiling
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Embarking on wellness: How to start a healthy lifestyle

October 20, 2023
5 minutes
Lifestyle Health & Wellness
Healthy habits
Health tips

For many of us, getting and staying healthy feels overwhelming.

Where do you start? How do you determine what steps you need to take to improve your overall well-being? The truth is everyone’s journey to a healthy lifestyle is different.

As you embark on this journey, remember this — building sustainable habits takes time, so having patience and compassion for yourself are essential.

The Importance of Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Establishing a healthy lifestyle begins with the foundation of creating positive, sustainable habits. From eating well-balanced meals to self-care and physical exercise, these habits are created over time and mastered with consistency.

No matter where you are with your physical and mental health, you can make small changes to your daily routine that will benefit your life and health in the long run.

In doing so, you’ll look and feel healthier, be less prone to illness, and have more energy to enjoy your life.

How to Start a Healthy Lifestyle: Research-Backed Steps to Take

Research shows that nutrition, exercise, and sustainable habits are key to creating a healthy lifestyle for long-term success. Here’s how to start living a healthy lifestyle.

A group of three multi-ethnic men exercising together outdoors in a public park on a sunny day. They are resting, taking a break, drinking water, conversing. The one in the middle is a mature African-American man. His friends are Hispanic and the one on the right is the oldest, a senior man in his 60s.

Setting clear health and wellness goals

Ever heard the phrase, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”?

Keep that in mind as you imagine a healthy lifestyle for yourself! Without a plan, your goals may never come to fruition because you aren’t creating actionable steps to get there.

Setting attainable, realistic goals for yourself is essential to embracing a healthy lifestyle. When you need to readjust, you can. There’s no judgment for realizing something isn’t working and finding a different solution. That’s all part of your journey — it’s unique and tailored to your experiences, wants, and needs.

Keep a schedule for healthy meals

Changing our eating patterns has the potential to make a significant impact on our overall health. Maybe you overeat at meals, skip meals, snack too often throughout the day, or eat too fast — all of these have repercussions that can be damaging to your relationship with food.

Instead, create a plan for your well-balanced meals each day. Start with a healthy breakfast, including protein, whole grains, and fruits. Plan ahead with healthy snack options in between meals, so you can set yourself up to make more nutritious decisions.

Meal prep your lunches (especially if you work in an office or travel during the day), so you are more likely to eat a filling, nutritious meal. Try to plan your dinners ahead of time, so you can shop for everything you need.

So many of us get off work and head home without a thought about what we’re making for dinner. When we’re tired and hungry, convenience may win over taking the time to prepare a healthy, fresh dinner.

Drink plenty of water

Staying hydrated boosts your mood, strengthens the immune system, and gives you more energy throughout the day. When the body has enough water, the organs can function properly, you’ll get better sleep, and your body temperature is regulated.

A senior African American Man enjoying refreshing water after a workout

Increasing your daily water intake is a great way to improve your overall health. Experts recommend that, on average, men should drink 13 cups of water per day, and women should drink 9.

To drink more water throughout the day, set an alarm every hour to drink a cup or two. Many people use water bottles with markings telling them how much they should consume each hour. This way, it becomes a mindless part of your day, and drinking water consistently will become natural in time.

Exercise regularly

Establishing and maintaining a regular workout routine is very challenging, and there’s no shame in struggling to find consistency.

The immediate and long-term benefits of exercise are reason enough to start implementing movement into your daily life. In the short term, you’ll experience improved brain health, sleep, blood pressure, memory, and focus.

Long-term exercise can benefit body weight regulation and cardiovascular health while reducing your risk of chronic disease and mental health conditions like depression.

If you’re just starting out with physical exercise, try to walk for 10 to 15 minutes each day and slowly add time or distance as you feel stronger. You can also incorporate strength training 2 days a week as you feel comfortable.

In general, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. It may seem like a lot, but you can scale up to that number over time. Building small habits leads to big changes!

Reduce screen time & unplug

We’re living in a digital world, but we don’t have to let it consume us. Many of us work in front of computer screens all day long and also use our phones, tablets, and TVs in the morning and evening.

Screens are everywhere, and the benefits of reducing our interactions with them are robust. From lower stress levels to improved posture, better focus, sleep, and brain function, there are so many reasons to reduce your daily exposure to screens.

It can be uncomfortable to find ways to fill your time, making this a great opportunity to add to your self-care routine. Unplugging gives you the chance to read a book, meditate, go on a walk, nap, or any other activity you feel fulfilled doing.

Prioritize sleep

Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans report not getting the recommended amount of sleep - at least 7 hours - each night?

The power of quality sleep is pretty incredible for your body. During sleep, your brain repairs itself, flushes toxins, and processes memories. Blood flow repairs the body’s muscles, promotes cell regeneration, and more.

That’s why after a good night’s sleep, we wake up well-rested, energized, and mentally clear. Your body needs quality sleep to stay mentally and physically strong, fight off illnesses, and reduce your potential risk of disease.

Breaking unhealthy habits

Building positive habits is important, but you’ll also have to break your unhealthy habits along the way. Everyone has unhealthy habits, and these behaviors can become very difficult to control, particularly those that are harmful to our health.

As you break up with your unhealthy habits, be sure to analyze why you need to do this for your well-being.

For example, if you’re quitting alcohol, vaping, or smoking cigarettes, acknowledge why this decision will benefit your long-term health and happiness. From saving money to reducing your risk of heart disease, putting a benefit to the action will help hold you accountable, even when you’re struggling.

Build Healthy Lifestyle Habits with Evidation

Creating healthy lifestyle habits is not an overnight occurrence, and you may not get it right every day. The key is to keep going and to utilize tools and resources along the way to help support your journey.

Evidation is a free health app that supports members in tracking their habits while providing helpful health and wellness information. Evidation Members can take surveys, participate in research, and gain access to relevant trends, insights, and health content. Along the way, our members are empowered to make healthy decisions to improve their physical and mental health.

Healthy habits
Health tips
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