It’s common to think of life in terms of age 20, 30, 40, etc., but do you ever think about what you should be doing differently at each of these ages? To keep your body and mind healthy, it’s important to maintain certain habits as the years go by.
There are countless benefits to cultivating healthy habits. They help you live longer, stay in better shape, and make the most of the skills and talents you’ve worked so hard to develop. Whether you are 20 or 50, it is never too late to start building new healthy habits that will promote a happier, healthier, and more productive life.
Here are 10 healthy habits that are good to get into by age 40 and beyond.
1) Drink lots of water
Drinking enough water is essential for good health. At least half of your body weight should be water; women who are 165 pounds or more need at least 72 ounces of water per day. And if you’re trying to lose weight, drinking a glass of cold water can help you feel full and eat less. So sip, don’t gulp: Drink up slowly and mindfully, savoring each sip instead of guzzling it down.
2) Get enough sleep
There’s no right amount of sleep, but 8.5 hours per night is a good goal for healthy adults. Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day (including weekends), and keep technology out of your bedroom—the blue light emitted from electronic screens messes with your brain’s internal clock, making it harder to fall asleep.
And be sure you have enough downtime before going to bed; read a book instead of playing one more round on your phone.
3) Eat healthy food throughout the day
When you give your body just a few hours without food, your metabolism slows down to save as much energy as possible. So, when you eat breakfast, you kickstart your metabolism to burn calories throughout the day. Starting with something healthy and light—whole-grain cereal topped with fruit, for instance—can be a great choice for many people, especially with an exercise habit on top of that.
Throughout the day, it can be so easy to choose foods higher in sugar for a quick energy boost, but this makes our hunger cravings fluctuate quickly, meaning we end up consuming even more calories over the course of a day. When trying to maintain your energy levels, it’s a good idea to monitor your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.
4) Exercise regularly
Regular exercise is one of your most important healthy habits. It helps you lose weight and in general improves your health and reduces your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Exercise doesn’t need to be complicated or overwhelming. Instead, make it a part of your daily routine and stick with it for lifelong benefits.
5) Get moving at work
It may seem like there isn’t much time to be physically active at work. There are ways you can exercise without taking too much time away from your tasks.
Start with small steps such as walking upstairs instead of taking an elevator or parking farther away from your building so that you have to walk a little more. These small changes will help improve your health and reduce stress over time.
6) Be kind to yourself
It’s hard to take care of someone else if you don’t know how to first love yourself. So to ensure you have time for yourself, schedule “me-time” into your day and work hard at making it a priority.
Try meditating for 15 minutes, focusing on what makes you happy, go for a walk with your dog or eat lunch by yourself. No matter what activity you choose, just make sure it lifts your spirits and leaves you feeling refreshed and balanced.
7) Find ways to relax, especially outside
We can’t all take three-month yoga retreats, so look for a few healthy habits that are simple and easy to implement, that will help you relax throughout your day — for example, getting up from your desk every 30 minutes or so to walk around your office building or neighborhood. You will be surprised at how much better and more focused you feel when you finally sit back down. Studies show that getting outside more often positively affects our brain’s health, even helping us sleep better at night.
8) Learn something new
It’s never too late—or too early—to learn a new skill. So even if you’re already a healthy eater, take the time to start learning more about nutrition. There are plenty of great resources online and with a little research you can build a better-for-you diet.