20 Healthy Habits You Should Adopt In Your Twenties
These habits are good for people of all ages, of course. But the sooner you get on it, the sooner you can reap the sweet, sweet benefits of healthy living.
1. Get between seven and eight hours of sleep per night.
Long-term research studies show that people who get significantly less than seven hours a night die younger. And some research shows that people who sleep more than nine hours also have problems. Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, says seven to eight hours is the sweet spot, according to an interview he gave to the Wall Street Journal.
Here are 14 scientific hacks to help you get a better night's sleep, in case it helps!
2. Get outside.
3. Have safe sex. Every time.
4. Spend time with loved ones.
What are friends and loved ones for? Well, according to tons of research, people who have strong "social networks" (as in, loving friends and family members) reap many health benefits. And, on the flipside, people without strong social bonds tend to fare much worse.
Plus, on a totally non-scientific level: Love and friendship makes everything so much better. Obviously. So go call your mom or Gchat your friend to set up a yoga date. You'll be glad you did.
5. Don't smoke cigarettes. And if you already smoke, quit ASAP.
6. Cook the majority of your meals at home, if you can.
One study from Cambridge University found that elderly Taiwanese people who cooked most of their meals lived longer than those who did not prepare the majority of their food at home.
Here's what's likely behind that: Cooking your own food gives you much greater control of what goes in it. You can make healthy ingredient swaps if you care to; you can also control portion sizes and the freshness of the ingredients when you're cooking for yourself.
7. Eat more fruits and veggies.
People who eat a lot of fruits and veggies also happen to have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, according to a huge study from Harvard.
That's especially true if you're talking green, leafy veggies; cruciferous veggies; and citrus fruits. Nom nom nom.
8. Stop drinking soda.
For like, a gajillion reasons. According to research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, based on over 6,000 participants in the Framingham Heart Study, drinking one or more soft drinks a day is associated with:
—Greater risk of metabolic syndrome
—Larger waist circumference
—Impaired fasting glucose
—Higher blood pressure
—Higher levels of triglycerides (associated with high cholesterol)
9. And while you're at it...stop drinking diet soda, too.
I know, I knowwww. I'm personally of the you-can-pry-my-Diet-Coke-from-my-cold-dead-hands persuasion, but the research here is pretty damning: Diet soda consumption is tied to incident metabolic syndrome and type 2 Diabetes, according to research published in the journal Diabetes Care. It's also not actually a true "diet" product (if that's what you're going for), considering that people who drink diet soda are more likely to actually be overweight or obese than those who don't drink diet drinks (see more on that here). Bottom line: Drink water, instead.
10. Drink more water, in general.
11. Sit less. Stand more.
12. Try to raise your heart rate for a sustained period of time every day.
13. Go to the doctor for all necessary checkups.
14. Only take antibiotics when you actually need them.
15. Be grateful.
16. Have lots of sex!
17. If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation.
18. Wear sunscreen every day.
19. Along those lines, avoid tanning beds.
20. And finally... End your crappy relationship sooner, rather than later.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler's name.