The 12 habits of highly healthy people

We have a new and exciting opportunity for you. It is a chance to get healthier, at your own pace, when it fits into your schedule, and at a level of participation that fits your lifestyle. It’s modeled on a program for Mayo Clinic employees called “12 Habits of Highly Healthy People.” The 12 habits are:

  1. Physical activity
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Portion size
  4. Preventive healthcare screening
  5. Adequate sleep
  6. Try something new
  7. Strength and flexibility
  8. Laugh
  9. Family and friends
  10. Address addictive behaviors
  11. Quiet your mind
  12. Gratitude

Each month, we’ll highlight one of the habits and offer tips, called “opportunities to explore,” to help you get started. Since this is a nutrition blog, we’ll bring in that aspect, as appropriate, for each habit. We’ll draw on the expertise of our fellow Mayo Clinic experts as needed too.

Habit 1: Physical activity

Exercise and physical activity are not only good for you, they’re also a fun way to spend time — a chance to unwind, to be outdoors, to get social or to simply do something that makes you happy. Find a physical activity you enjoy and do it every day.

Better yet, find two or more types of activity to do to prevent boredom and overuse injuries. Pace yourself according to your age and fitness level. Start with a warm up and end with cool down. Increase time and intensity gradually. Consider exercising with a committed friend or involve your family.

A good general goal is to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily. If you want to lose weight or increase your fitness level, you may need more exercise or at a higher intensity. Bottom line, all movement counts, not just exercise.

Opportunities to explore:

  • Be active throughout your day. Take the stairs rather than the elevator, change a meeting into a “walking meeting,” or consider a portable stepping or pedaling device that fits at your workstation. Include a 10-15 minute walk in your lunch hour.
  • Take a break from sitting. Try standing, stretching or walking for minimum of 5-10 minutes every hour while at work or sitting at home.
  • Activate your passion for food. Take up gardening, start walking to and from the grocery store, or explore a local farmers market. These are fun ways be more active and explore new foods.
  • Move more, snack less. Instead of snacking when you’re bored, go for a walk, dance or try an exercise video.
  • Pick up an activity monitor. A pedometer is a simple tool to track your daily steps. There are also other types of activity monitors, such as Gruve and Fitbit, among others. Any of them can be a great tool to check your baseline activity level and encourage you to move more.
  • Make leisure time active time. Instead of watching television, go bowling or play an active video game.
  • Check out what’s happening in your community. Are there community fitness classes at local parks, schools or gyms?

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