By Karen Hanson on October 11, 2016

9 tips for a healthier lifestyle

man walking with son

These nine tips are small ways you can make your lifestyle a bit healthier and help you create habits. These habits will build upon themselves and create a strong platform for a healthy you. 

Wear a pedometer

New research suggests that routinely wearing a pedometer encourages people to walk about an extra mile each day, lose weight and lower their blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking and a total of 10,000 steps per day.

Don't forget strength training 

Make sure it involves both the upper and lower body. Too many people neglect resistance exercise, particularly women for whom it's crucial for preventing muscle and bone loss with age. Lift weights for at least 20 minutes, two- to three-times per week.

Eat at least two fish meals per week 

The evidence is strong that the oils in darker types of fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and herring, are beneficial for the heart and brain and may even lower risk of cancer.

Sleep eight hours a night 

A number of recent studies have confirmed that you really do need at least eight hours a night. Among the many benefits: Adequate sleep makes you feel better, decreases risk for cardiovascular disease, boosts memory and reduces the likelihood of being in a car accident.

If you smoke, quit

There is nothing good about it. If you're having trouble quitting, start smoking less today -- smoke only half a cigarette, and skip as many of your usual smokes as you can -- and get help right away. Get some guidance about why it is you smoke to figure out how best to stop doing it. Smoking cessation groups can be extremely helpful and supportive, and medications like a nicotine patch can help decrease the cravings. Acupuncture may also be useful.

Budget your food as you do your money

A rough guideline for daily caloric intake: Multiply your ideal body weight by 10 (i.e., 1,200 calories if you want to weigh 120 pounds) and then add another 600 calories if you're moderately active, a few hundred more if you're very active. Divide those calories out across the day to keep yourself well fed.

Eat three different foods at every meal

Add color and texture for interest!  Plan around your fruits and vegetables, include a grain and a protein source.  Don’t forget the dairy too.

Eating won't solve emotional problems

Many people eat to make themselves feel better when they're upset or stressed. It works in the short run; certain foods can temporarily boost mood. But in the long run, you'll have the same emotional problems -- plus the extra weight.

Don't drink too many calories

It's easy to drink calories without noticing: that eggnog latte at Starbucks has nearly as many calories as a Big Mac. It's okay to have one as an occasional treat, but consider it a meal, not a drink.

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  • Karen Hanson

    Karen Hanson

    Karen Hanson is a dietitian for the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.  Her  role is to promote sound nutrition practices and education for the public. She is a Registered Dietitian and a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American college of Sports Medicine.  Karen and her husband have been... Read more