Making healthy lifestyle changes is easier said than done. Even when we're strongly motivated, adopting a new, healthy habit — or breaking an old, bad one — is challenging. At first, small changes might not seem that effective. But when put together, dozens of tiny habits can create the framework for a healthy life.
Incorporating healthier habits can add several healthy years to your life by preventing serious illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia.
Researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed data from more than 111,000 people who were followed for between 28-34 years.
They found objective evidence that five health habits in particular were critical for a longer healthspan. In fact, the more of these habits people satisfied, the longer they lived:
Even having one of these health habits, contributed to two extra healthy years than those who had none. The effect was even more pronounced for those who by 50 years old regularly practiced all five; these people enjoyed over a decade of extra life!
Yes the struggle is real. Making healthy lifestyle changes is easier said than done. Even when we're strongly motivated, adopting a new, healthy habit — or breaking an old, bad one — is challenging. The biggest issue for anybody bringing change upon their life is the conflict between conscious desires i.e. what you know is good for you, and subconscious drives i.e., addictions, procrastination and resistance to any kind of change, no matter how good it is for you!
The subconscious mind always chooses immediate rewards and habits over your goals and plans to get fit, lose weight and feel better.
This internal cognitive dissonance creates confusion and the ‘stronger faster bigger subconscious mind will almost always win… the self-help book goes back on the shelf, the gym membership is cancelled, and vegetables rot in the fridge while you nurse a hangover. This cognitive dissonance creates self-sabotage and blind-spots that prevent us from seeing our destructive patterns of behaviour. When under stress it gets worse, and we always choose instant gratification over long-term gains.
Our health plan and end goal goes down the drain when we see a piece of our favourite pizza, and forget how this action today will impact us a few hours or even days later (Hint: its crashing blood glucose, neurological inflammation, reduced immune response, and irritability).
We’re swamped in information and most of it is cloaked in jargon, or lacks practical ways to implement into action. The latest discoveries about the impact of stress, heart rate variability, hormones and circadian rhythms provide remarkable insight into why we face epidemics of depression, disease and lethargy. They also provide athletes and exercise enthusiasts opportunities to naturally enhance performance and reach peak states of power. Here are just some of the ways unhealthy habits can wreck your health in a more significant way than you realize:
A healthy habit is any activity or behavior that can benefit your physical, mental, or emotional well-being. At first, these small changes might not seem that effective. But when put together dozens of these tiny habits you can create a framework for a healthy life. We've included some examples of healthy activity, nutrition and sleep habits below. While some may not apply to all people, these habits are a great starting point for anyone who may be looking to better themselves.
Unfortunately, your subconscious ‘sneaks in’ these destructive actions without conscious consent. You’re left genuinely wondering why you didn’t get up before midday, cancelled your training session and had beer for brunch when the plan was a 6am jog and green smoothie!
Unless you have: strict accountability (i.e. a 24/7 personal tracker who is actively watching you); no addictive outlets (no access to sugar, bread, alcohol, coffee, internet, nor mobile phone) and a concrete plan... your mind will naturally steer you towards the easy options. This is the byproduct of a survival mechanism designed to keep us safe, but it holds us back from becoming better versions of ourselves.
Your subconscious mind is driven to minimize energy expenditure and achieve homeostasis. ‘Easy’ options require less energy, so they are the ‘best’ choice. Your subconscious doesn’t predict more than a few days ahead, or a few moments when under stress.
It is important to remember that healthy habits can be created in stages. What might be an unhealthy habit for one person today may be a healthy habit for someone else.
Start where you are and make progress towards habits that will be healthy for you.
Speaking of a 24/7 personal tracker... humans typically create 1 gigabyte of health-related data before they die. What are you doing with yours?
Wearable technology is being adopted at an exponential rate, but how effectively are you using this immensely valuable dataset?
Over 70% of wearable data is not utilized.
Wearables provide unique insight into our bodies and for most people ‘health’ is the primary driver for tracking our personal physiology. Advancements in technology are making it easier to collect the critical data needed to drive a healthier lifestyle, or improve chronic conditions. By combining wearable technology and automated analytics you become more conscious of your constructive and destructive habits.
Data makes us get conscious about decisions because it requires logic (a function of the neo-cortex). By combining personal data with these biological insights you can start to override subconscious bad habits and automate conscious decisions.
The potential to enhance our well-being by making data-driven decisions is huge. But, the reality is that without analytical support, and effective accountability, most people flounder in the numbers and make the same destructive decisions (subconscious habits) despite the data.
Stop wasting your health data and start capitalizing on it – discover the hidden patterns that are holding you back. Benefit from cutting-edge AI, that will save you hundreds of hours of research and planning - our team has reviewed terabytes of data, so you don’t have to! Remove the obstacles to growth and get personalized insights that help you understand your mind and body better by taking control of the information your body is generating to influence your conscious decision making.
Basis provides a unique, data-driven perspective on your current physiology, allowing you to effectively track the impact of your actions and take responsibility for your long-term health and wellness.
How Chris, founder of Asset Gift incorporates healthy habits in his routine
How Mahir, founder of Habitual Money incorporates healthy habits in his daily routine