5 Healthy Habits You Need in Your 20s to Thrive in Your 40s

If you turned on your television right now and flipped through the channels, it probably wouldn’t take you long to stumble upon an advertisement of something that promises to make you live longer. Skin care products, health trackers, dietary supplements, there’s a never-ending list of products that attempt to mimic the Fountain of Youth. But the truth is, you don’t need any of that stuff! If you want to live a long life, it’s all about having healthy habits.

A recent study from Northwestern University found that people who lead a healthy lifestyle in their 20s are more likely to be at a low risk for cardiovascular disease in their 40s, regardless of race or sex. They found that five different healthy lifestyle factors contributed to later heart health.

So, if you’re looking for good cardiovascular health later in life, here are five healthy habits you should develop now.

A Low Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index, or BMI, is calculated using your height and your weight. It acts as a benchmark for general health, and a normal BMI varies from person to person. Generally speaking, a lower BMI is good, as it suggests we’re not carrying excess weight. A normal BMI can range anywhere from 18.5-24.9.

It’s worth noting, however, that BMI does not always paint a complete or accurate picture of our health. BMI calculations don’t differentiate between muscle weight or fat weight, for example.

No Excess Alcohol Intake

While light to moderate alcohol consumption might not hurt you, none is better than some.

Alcohol has been in the center of a heated debate for centuries. Is it good or bad for you? How much is too much? While there’s no scientific consensus on whether alcohol is good or bad for you, the Northwestern University study suggests a minimal intake of alcohol–or none at all–is probably better.

If we’ve learned anything from behavioral science and philosophy, it’s that all things are better in moderation. The same seems to ring true, here.

No Smoking

Cigarettes kill more people each year than automobile accidents.

This one should come as no surprise. Cigarette smoking is one of the most dangerous habits we can form. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in five American smokers will die from smoking-related complications. Cigarette smoking kills more people than HIV, drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, and firearms-related injuries combined. It is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Good health and cigarette smoking simply don’t mix.

If you’re currently a smoker, don’t panic. Resources for quitting are everywhere, and the health benefits of quitting can arise in as little as 20 minutes after your last cigarette.

A Balanced Diet

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan

Another seeming no-brainer, a healthy, balanced diet is a vital key to a long, healthy life. Specifically, this study found that people who eat more calcium, potassium, and fiber, and less saturated fat, had better cardiovascular health later in life.

Northwestern University’s study used the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, for reference. The DASH diet is designed to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. It consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains. Sound familiar?

Regular Exercise

Half an hour of moderate to intense exercise daily keeps your heart strong.

Moderate to intense exercise for at least half an hour a day can reduce your risk of heart disease in the long run. It makes sense, too. Your heart is a muscle, just like your biceps and glutes. If you don’t use it daily, it’ll weaken. Regular use will keep it strong and healthy for decades.

If you’re unsure what type of exercises to try, we have more than a few recommendations. Or, you can take this handy dandy quiz for even more inspiration.

Making Good Habits Better

Here at Fabulous, we’re all about building good habits that stick with us for life. We can help you eat better, exercise more, and abstain from temptations. Just download our free-to-use app and get started changing your life today. It’s as simple as drinking water.

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