Establishing positive habits from an early age is the key to success in nearly all walks of life. Doing so helps increase accountability, responsibility and conditions individuals to be more in-tune with their goals. Whether it’s teaching children habits with schoolwork or simply team building activities such as sports—excellence is predicated on long term habits repeated again and again.
Health and fitness is no exception to the rule. You can’t simply choose to go to the gym or eat healthy at certain times. Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle requires you to go to the gym when you don’t feel like it. Whether it be opting for a salad over a pizza or foregoing that piece of candy that’s sitting on the countertop—individuals should focus on creating positive and healthy habits at an early age.
But what age should you focus on creating positive habits? A study performed by Brown University discovered that most habits take root in children by the age of 9 (1).
Habits become increasingly more difficult to change as time goes on. Whether it be good or bad—focusing on healthy habits from a young age can eventually help to create sustainable lifelong habits that can lead to a longer and healthier life.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways health and fitness can be incorporated at an early age.
Make Positive Diet Choices
Eat your vegetables. Don’t eat too much candy. No more soda. For many people our parents attempted to reinforce positive healthy eating habits at a young age to help lay the foundation that hopefully will carry on into adulthood. The problem is what happens when our parents stop telling us what to do?
Once we reach the age of adulthood many people go off to college and experience freedom for the first time in our lives. With the whole world at our fingertips, how can young adults continue to practice positive and healthy habits well into their adulthood?
Here’s a few steps that young adults can follow to help them lead healthier and happier lifestyles:
- Focus on whole foods: the world of today has unfortunately become saturated with an abundance of processed foods. Keeping a diet to whole foods consisting of lean proteins, vegetables and whole grains can help individuals minimize their risk of diseases and ailments. One study found that over an eight-week period, individuals consuming whole foods lost a larger percentage of their body weight, decreased their blood pressure and decreased their total cholesterol levels (2).
- Limit alcohol consumption: although alcohol consumption tends to increase in the teens and twenties, individuals should strive to consume alcohol legally and within moderation. In fact, one study indicated that 21% of young adults met the diagnostic criteria for alcohol dependence (3). Keeping alcohol within moderation is one key step to reinforcing positive health choices that will sustain over the course of a lifetime.
- Watch caloric intake: while calories aren’t everything when it comes to health, people should be wary of their caloric intake to ensure they aren’t overeating. The problem is many people have no idea how many calories they’re actually consuming. In fact, studies have indicated that most people consume far more calories than they are aware of (4).
- Avoid late night snacking: many people make healthy eating choices throughout the course of a day, but tend to fall off their diets to temptations that occur late at night. Studies have even indicated that late night snacking can make individuals less productive the following day (5).
Establishing these healthy eating habits as a young adult will more than likely make it easier to carry on these practices while into later adulthood. However, if a person becomes too accustomed to an unhealthy lifestyle, it can be more difficult to make changes at a later age.
Staying active doesn’t always have to mean you’re going to the gym every single day. Individuals with busy schedules may often find it difficult to consistently hit a gym or perform a consistent workout. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other alternatives that can help people burn calories and increase their energy expenditure levels.
If you’re a busy college student or on the grind at work, it can be tempting to simply lay on the couch and not do anything. That doesn’t mean you can’t find alternative ways of staying active.
Here’s some other common activities that can help you stay active and on the go:
- Walk more: most common phones and devices of today have some sort of app that can track the number of steps done throughout the course of a day. In fact, the number of steps performed throughout the course of a day is far more critical than the intensity level. One study found that adults who took 8,000 or more steps a day had a reduced risk of death compared to those who only walked 4,000 steps a day (6).
- Go on a hike: going on a hike or walking outdoors can be a great way to get in touch with nature while burning calories at the same time.
- Go to the gym: while going to a gym isn’t required for looking and feeling great, some people tend to hold themselves more accountable if they go to an actual gym.
- Walk at work: sedentary lifestyles can be deadly if you spend too much of your life sitting. The surgeon general has stated that over 60% of adults do not engage in the recommended amount of daily activity (7).
Creating positive lifestyle habits in young adulthood will lead to a greater probability of success that will carry into over later years in life. On the other hand, if you don’t practice healthy eating habits at a young age it will be much more difficult to change those habits later on in life.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle Today
Living a positive lifestyle starts with positive habits that can be reinforced at a young age. If you’re looking to be happier and healthier it starts with a proper diet and regular exercise habits. One small step today can help to build the foundation for a happier and healthier lifestyle in the future.
If you’re struggling to lose weight or simply want to lead a healthier lifestyle, feel free to reach out to us. Our number one priority is to help you live your best and most active life.