It seems like every decade — or more like, every day — there’s a new health craze. From avocados to Crossfit, and it’s virtually impossible to sort through what’s a fad and what’s worthy of incorporating into daily life.
Thanks to the rise of such fads, it seems most people are confused or uninformed about what should be the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle.
Not everyone needs to banish carbs from their lips, but we all need to drink enough water and consume colorful veggies.
So for the sake of setting the record straight, we’ve listed five basic rules we shouldn’t be afraid to live by.
1. Calories: Quality Over Quantity
Calories can seem like a dieter’s nightmare — the higher the numbers climb, the farther we run from a meal. But what most people don’t realize is that it’s actually about the integrity of calories and not the amount.
Oftentimes foods with lower calories have artificial sweeteners or preservatives in them that aren’t great for our bodies.
Bottom line: A few hundred calories in veggies are preferable to a hundred from junk food. So before you let a snack pass your lips, check the ingredients first.
2. Move It or Lose It
The hardest thing on your body is sitting for hours on end. Unfortunately, many of us are forced into this regimen because of our jobs. The World Health Organization has even identified physical inactivity as the fourth-leading risk factor for death.
So keep moving: walk around at least 5 minutes of every hour, or try a standing desk instead of your traditional one.
3. Colorful Food
Keeping your plate all green is better than deep-fried brown, but it doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest it could be. Variety is key, and a colorful plate says a lot about a healthy diet — especially the color red. Peppers, acai berries and of course, tomatoes.
Did you know that tomatoes play a major role in reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer? Acai berries have also been found to protect against cancer. Antioxidants in the berries protect cells from damage that can lead to the disease. Meanwhile, carrots are a great source of vitamin A.
All in all, greens are great, but adding color to your meals will only benefit you.
4. Raise That Heart Rate
It’s a critical part of healthy living to get your heart rate up for an extended period of time each day. Physical fitness has been shown to increase life span, and NPR reports that at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week can help keep you fit.
We see many workout fads that go in and out of style — Tae Bo, anyone? — but they often distract us from the main goal: which is simply reaching your target heart rate to keep you fit and healthy. This target can be calculated based on your age, gender and resting heart rate.
So no matter how you choose to do it, just be sure you do.
5. Water, Water, Water
We all know water is the essence of life — but many of us are confused on just how much water we should consume daily.
The body loses water when you’re perspiring during a workout — even a minor one. You also lose water in hot and humid weather, or when you’re feeling ill. In fact, by the time you feel thirsty, you’re already about two percent dehydrated.
That’s why the Mayo Clinic recommends you drink at least a half a gallon of water everyday to glean the most benefits.
If you need help tracking your water intake, there’s an app called Waterlogged (and several others) that can keep you drinking H2O all day.
Obviously, there are more than five things we need to be informed of to keep us at our physical best, but these rules are the foundation that help us start (and keep) living a healthy lifestyle.
Hope it helps!