1. Improve your posture There is nothing more terrifying to me than seeing an elderly person who is completely with it mentally, but hunched over
so badly that their friendly banter has been limited to how nice your shoes are. Unfortunately, genetics do play a factor here, but there are lots of things we can do to maintain a good posture, and it all starts in our twenties. If you are not a ballerina, opera singer, or horseback rider you should read this list of 9 Ways To Improve Your Posture, like now.
2. Wear sunscreen & avoid overexposure to sun To some, this habit is something that
you only pay attention to on vacation, but a sunburn shouldn’t be your only concern. Men and women in their 40’s and 50’s are now experiencing the irreversible skin damage they caused in their twenties from daily exposure without sunscreen (even in the winter). At the very least, buy a SPF 30 face moisturizer. Or cover your skin during the sun’s strongest hours, from 10am-3pm. Your leather friends will envy you down the road.
3. Improve Your Brain The brain is arguably the most important part of our body, since it is what makes us us. Recent neurobiological research shows that our brain’s frontal lobe (the part of the brain used for planning, problem-solving and decision-making) doesn’t fully mature until sometime during our twenties. This means that if we want to make a big change, NOW is the time to do it. Clinical psychologist, Dr. Meg Jay suggests that we take advantage of our twenties by cultivating DAILY habits that make you smarter. What is one that you can start today? I’m going to try reading the newspaper and complaining less.
4. Find an exercise you actually enjoy I call these “playouts”. It was originally happy workouts but that implies that it’s work and by nature, this exercise should feel more like play than a workout. For some, this is dance, for others, a group jog. For my mom, it’s beach volleyball. For my friend Amy, it’s yoga. For me, it’s salsa. For you it could be swimming, skiing, hiking, or soccer. If you don’t have one it’s because you haven’t tried it yet. Try something new this week.
5. Stretching after your workouts A perfectly fit body is not just at its peak in strength and endurance, but in flexibility too. Your body will be less prone to injury and your aging body WILL thank you for this habit. (I am, of course, assuming that you are actually exercising regularly, which is such an obvious body habit that I will not insult you by listing it.)
6. Remove your makeup before you go to bed This one (probably) only applies to women, but it’s too important to leave off the list. Experts estimate that failing to cleanse your skin and remove your makeup can age you a decade! Symptoms include: redness, larger pores, and yep, you guessed it, wrinkles.
7. Drink water when you wake up and before you go to bed Proper hydration is important at all times, but especially in the hours surrounding sleep. We dehydrate in our sleep, so we need that extra glass of water to keep our body running efficiently through the night. Refill that same cup and put it on your nightstand to refuel again in the morning. Dehydration can cause dizziness, sluggishness, serious gastrointestinal issues and a shit ton of other problems you could easily avoid. So, down the hatch with your H20!
8. Get your vitamins Do you need vitamins? Yes. Do they have to come in pill form, no. The jury is still out on whether daily pill supplements are the best way to get your vitamins. In the meantime, educate yourself on how much of each vitamin your body should get, and how to get them. Your body and your diet are unique, and your vitamin supplements should be taken to replenish what you specifically are lacking. Health.com has a quick summary of What to Take & What to Skip, based on your custom needs.
9. Eat breakfast You’ve heard it before, and I’m not trying to be your mom here, but… eat your damn breakfast. Not only does eating breakfast improve your brain function and
energy levels, but can also help you lose or maintain a healthy weight. Livescience.com reports that in a recent study, “people who ate breakfast as their largest meal lost an average of 17.8lbs over three months” verses their counterparts who ate the same calories at dinner and only lost 7.3lbs. I repeat, be an adult and eat your damn breakfast.
10. Learn how to cook at least 3 quick, healthy meals that you love When we are tired from work or class and come home to the smell of a roommates greasy Chinese food, it’s easy to break your promise to cook something healthy. This is where you can use habit to your advantage. If you can successfully cook your Veggie & Egg White Stir-fry in under 10 minutes with one hand tied behind your back, you will feel less exhausted by the ideaof cooking. Master this healthy habit to combat your drained self at the end of the workday.
11. Cut down on caffeine It’s tempting to over-caffeinate when cramming for an exam, rallying for a night out, or compensating for lack of sleep. I am guilty of this, myself. But caffeine is a drug, and avoiding picking up this addiction in your twenties is important. While a cup or coffee or bit of dark chocolate has shown some positive health benefits, most other sources of caffeine can be detrimental to our health. If you’re tired, pass on the energy drinks and see steps 9 and 18 instead.
12. Quit binge drinking Ok, I probably lost some of my blogfans with this one, and trust me, it pained me to admit it, but champagne is not a healthy substitute for milk. While it can be fun to indulge in some heavy drinking, from time to time, the short- and long-term health effects should not be ignored. Excessive alcohol use (8+ drinks/week for women or 15+ drinks/week for men) can lead to heart & liver disease, cancer or depression. That being said, in acknowledgement of the nature of our society, I have developed this trick. When I know I’m going to be at an all day drinking event, I try to drink a glass of water in between each beer or wine.
13. Find yourself a doctor (these are not called pediatricians anymore) and schedule routine check ups I am embarrassed to say that I am 27 years old and did not have a doctor of my own until this week. Most of this has to do with my moving between states and countries every year, but I know that mine is not the only excuse that twentysomethings give for failing to go to the doctor. Yes, you may be healthy this minute, but if you don’t go to the doctor for checkups, you can miss something more serious than strep throat. This includes your general doctor, dentist, or any specialists that apply to your unique needs.
14. Invest in Health Insurance In order to go to the doctor for those check ups, you will probably need health insurance. If you are not covered under your current job’s benefits, or are older than 26 in the USA and are no longer covered under your parents’ plan, you need to do some research. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but even if you follow all the rest of these health habits, you can’t guarantee that there will be no emergencies. If there are, this will be the best health investment you have made, to date.
15. Appreciate your youthful body
You only get one body and it’s not getting any younger, so make sure you appreciate the beauty of your unique body – not when your boobs get bigger, not when you lose 10lbs, but now. And if are truly unhappy with your twentysomething gift of a body, then make an effort to improve it. Give your body the proper fuel, activity and rest it needs, but also make sure to give it some love. I make a habit of winking at myself in the mirror before I get in the shower. Not because I’m a narcissist, but because I know the role self-love plays in our happiness journey. Now you try it, you sexy beast, you.
16. Practice meditation or mindfulness Stress is not just a mental pain, but a physical one as well. It can manifest itself as minor physical issues like headaches, muscle knots, grey hair, and premature wrinkles; or severe ones like obesity, ulcers, and even heart disease. Meditating is a wonderful habit that is proven to reduce stress and contribute to overall happiness. The same can be said of being mindful. See this list of 7 Ways to be Mindful in Your Everday Life.
17. Have more (safe) sex Assuming the sex you have is safe and consensual (c’mon now), increasing your sexual activity to 2 or more times a week can have some surprising health benefits. Aside from the obvious sex benefits like physical pleasure, intimacy, exercise and stress relief, we can also enjoy an improved immune system, greater heart health, deeper sleep, lower blood pressure, and (for men) less chance of prostate cancer! This one is a no-brainer. Check out this fun article behind the science of sex, starring my hero, Rowan Pelling.
18. Get Enough Z’s I don’t think anyone values their sleep as much as I do… well, maybe this baby does. But when I moved back from Spain, I struggled to transition out of my routine “siesta”, or what I referred to as “adult naptime”. Scientists are at odds over the recommended number of hours you need, and it probably varies per person. Still, some facts are unanimous. First, the healthier we are, the better we sleep. Second, the better our sleep, the healthier we are. Conundrum? I think not. Get to know your body and get the sleep you need to feel your best self. WebMD addresses the particulars of sleep needs according to your age, here.
19. Limit screen time I am a blogger, and that means that I am required to clock a certain amount of screen time a day. In fact, many of today’s careers and classes demand this of us. Unfortunately, excessive screen time is linked to obesity, vision problems, lack of restorative sleep, and BRAIN DAMAGE. Woah, I didn’t mean to yell. But isn’t this scary? Read it straight from Psychology Today, if you don’t believe me. In order to combat my screen time problem, I only turn my TV on when I have a specific show or sports game that I want to watch. Scheduling time for outdoor activities,reading, social engagement or sex can also help. Or, try keeping your phone, computer and TV outside of the bedroom.
20. Floss If you enjoy bad breath, look forward to denchers, and never eat popcorn, then by all means, skip flossing. But if you are a human being, then you might want to think about making flossing one of your habits while you still have enamel left to protect. I am addicted to flossing and my favorite flossers make it easy to do while I’m cooking, reading or getting ready to leave the house. Caution: leaving these on the coffee table, nightstand, or cup holder of your car will gross out your significant other and friends. Make sure not to rub your healthy habits in their faces with a trail of flossers.