The 7 Surprising Habits of Healthy People

You probably clicked on this article wondering what 7 things could possibly keep you healthy. And I don’t blame you – health is a complex balance of physical, mental and emotional states that seems harder and harder to achieve these days. But while this list is by no means exclusive, incorporating these simple but often overlooked 7 habits will certainly push you in the right direction towards a healthier life.

1) Take more naps. Research has found that only 34 percent of working professionals nap on a daily basis, and that a third of these individuals made over $100,000 per year.  Not surprisingly, studies have shown that naps improve cognition, memory, and alertness and reduce stress. Taking a short nap every day can help improve your health as well as make you more productive in the workplace.

2) Clean daily. Researchers in Scotland have found that those who engage in regular housework live longer than sedentary people. This is most likely due to the extra calories burned by performing chores, which is beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart. Research has also shown living in a clean-smelling environment improves your mood and increases our likeliness to donate and volunteer to charitable causes compared to less clean environments.

3) Eat soup from a box. Giving up canned foods can lower the risk of heart disease, brain cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and infertility. A large number of studies investigating the effect of BPA, the chemical that is used to line canned foods as well as hard plastics, have shown its link in the development of such diseases. Opting for foods that are packaged in boxes or glass jars are a healthier and safer alternative to the canned options. Of course, choose the organic or natural options… or better yet, their fresh alternatives.

4) Give your body a break. We all know that exercise plays an important role in health maintenance as well as weight loss. However, pushing your body through long and intense workouts most days of the week can leave your muscles feeling stressed, sore and tired. Incorporating a few relaxation days into your regular exercise regime will therefore allow your body to recover and feel stronger.

5) Enjoy the meals you love. It seems that nowadays, eating can be more stressful than enjoyable when we are constantly analyzing our food choices and counting calories as we strive too hard to eat healthy. The reality is that this mindset may actually be sabotaging our efforts.

Forcing ourselves to eat a salad when we really want pasta can lead to an unsatisfied feeling and result in overeating later. So while it is important to eat healthy foods, it is equally important to listen to your body and not over-analyze our meal choices. Enjoy the meals you love, however instead of dining out try making your favorite foods at home. This will not only satisfy your food cravings, it will also help you control the ingredients you use.

6) Eat with family and friends. Researchers at the University of Birmingham found that people who ate with the company of their laptops or smartphones consumed significantly more throughout the day than those who dined without distractions. This may be because overeating and snacking are often used as a way to escape stress and negative emotions, rather than true hunger.

In today’s busy and often chaotic landscape, dinner is one of the few opportunities in the day to spend quality time with friends and family and can create the positive feelings that are usually temporarily fulfilled by snacking. A great incentive to put away your smartphone and share a meal with your loved ones!

7) Rekindle your hobbies. It seems that as we get older, we put aside a decreasing amount of our free time towards activities that we love. Drawing, pottery, crafts, playing a musical instrument, biking… whatever your flavor may be, rediscovering your passions is a great way to de-stress, increase happiness and unleash your creative side.

Making small lifestyle changes such as embracing cleanliness and napping helps to bring your physical and mental health into balance and supports a long, healthy lifestyle. Of course, everything in moderation and don’t forget the other stuff – healthy diet, exercise, healthy relationships, etc., but these tips will have you well on your way.


20 habits skinny people live by. Available at:

How I accidentally lost weight by taking naps and eating crepes. Available at:

Staying Happy and Healthy in the New Year

At the start of every New Year, many of us start the yearly tradition of thinking about ways to improve their lives by making resolutions such as losing weight, exercising more often, or saving more money. We may conjure up a regular gym schedule and rigid new diet plan and cleanse our cupboards of all “culprit” foods to make way for healthier ones. However, as the month of January comes to an end, this all-too-often also marks the end of our lofty intentions, resulting in another year of unfulfilled goals. So the question becomes, where we are going wrong with our resolutions and how can we stay true to them throughout the year?

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to overwhelm themselves with change in January.  For lifestyle changes to cross the line into routines, a progressive approach with several small changes tends to be much more effective in achieving long-term success.

It’s no surprise that diet is often the first place people turn to improve their health. The problem is that many of us try to make drastic changes, cutting out entire food groups or extreme amounts of calories, which not only leads to an unbalanced diet but one that is unsustainable to maintain. Setting these types of unattainable (and unhealthy) goals is a sure fire road to disappointment and anxiety when we fall short.

A much healthier option is to balance your diet with healthy fats, proteins and carbs. Not only does a balanced diet promote optimal physiological health, but also better mental health and a state of well-being. Further, certain foods actually increase “happy” chemicals in the body. Fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel contains omega-3 fats and vitamin D, two nutrients with proven depression-fighting effects. Adding these fish to your meals twice a week will give you the health benefits of long chain omega-3 fatty acids in addition to decreasing irritability, low mood and worrying. Those of us in northern climates may particularly benefit from vitamin D, as the lack of sunlight can lead to vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder, or the “winter blues”.

If you are a carbohydrate lover, swap out flour-based products for whole, pseudo grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice and millet. These types of grains offer a balance of necessary protein fat and fiber, all of which will help to stabilize blood sugar and prevent sleepiness and dips in energy that usually result from the consumption of refined carbohydrates like white breads, rice and pastas. Some cereals are also enriched in folic acid, a nutrient that has been shown to reverse depressive symptoms in those who are deficient.

Other ways to boost your diet into the healthy zone include consuming more legumes such as beans and chickpeas as they are rich in magnesium, which plays a key role in the body’s energy production. Adding leafy greens such as spinach and kale to your salads is also a great option, as these “superfoods” contain minerals such as iron, which helps to carry oxygen to the cells, and B-vitamins that have been shown to help prevent symptoms of depression. Walnuts are an excellent choice for a snack as they are one of the richest dietary sources of serotonin, a hormone that helps create feelings of calmness and happiness. A recent study suggests that those who ate a 1-ounce serving of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds combined had more of this feel-good chemical than a nut-free group.

So, if losing weight is at the top of your list this year, try slowly introducing these foods to your diet to replace less healthy alternatives instead of eliminating major food groups altogether. This will not only prevent your body from feeling deprived (which can result in binge eating), but will also keep you feeling happy, healthy and energetic, in addition to benefiting your waistline.

Exercise is another well-known factor associated with health and happiness, and as with weight loss, the goal to regularly hit the gym appears on many resolution lists. Amidst the countless evidence indicating the health benefits of regular physical activity, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week substantially reduced the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events, proving that even light exercise has major benefits to your health. So instead of going overboard and hitting the gym every day so hard that it leaves you exhausted and reluctant to go back, try incorporating a slow and gradual increase in exercise into your lifestyle. This will help exercise become a daily routine that you will soon enough just do automatically.

Finally, reducing stress is another key factor in maintaining health and happiness. Stress depresses our immune systems, making the body more prone to infection and disease. Although completely avoiding all of life’s stresses is impossible, identifying those that are particularly overwhelming can help to pinpoint the areas that need change. If money is one of those stressors, instead of vowing not to go out on weekends or purchase anything for the next few months, make a realistic budget for your monthly expenses and stick to it. Avoiding unnecessary or impulse purchases caused by not keeping track of your spending will leave you with more money at the end of the month that can be put towards entertainment, traveling or that healthy cooking class you have been meaning to take.

Whatever your New Year goals may be, keep in mind that just as it took time to adopt your current lifestyle, turning them into healthier ones will not occur overnight.  Be patient, break your goals up into smaller and more achievable steps, and celebrate your success as you accomplish each one. This will help you stick to your resolutions making your New Year happier and healthier than the last.


Wijayasinghe S. 8 Tips for staying healthy in the New Year. 2010. Available at:

Ipatenco S. Nutrition for Health and Happiness. 2011. Available at:

Rones N. Eat you way to health and happiness. 2012. Available at:

Salmon P. Effects of physical exercise on anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to stress: A unifying theory. Clinical Psychology Review. 2001; 21: 33.

Smits J, Tart C, Rosenfield D, Zvolensky M. Interplay between physical activity and anxiety sensitivity in fearful responding to CO2 Challenge. Psychosom Med. 2011; 73(6): 498-503.

Brody J. “Even more reasons to get a move on.” New York Times. 2010.