Focus On The Future Of Your Health

The 20s is a carefree decade and yet an introspective one. This means it must come with some kind of balance. You have just set out on the path of self-discovery, maybe starting a career or forming a romantic alliance. Money isn’t such a big worry yet. And health? Well, it all seems good so far. Who has the time to think about long-term health? Right?

Various studies show that the lifestyle decisions we make during the early decades of our life have a dramatic effect on how well we age. Being health savvy in the 20s is strongly associated with a lower risk for heart disease in middle age, according to research from Northwestern University. The study showed that most people who adopted five healthy habits in their 20s, including a healthy body mass index, moderate consumption of alcohol, no smoking, a nutrient-dense diet, and a regular form of physical activity – stayed healthy well into their middle age. The message? While you’re making big life decisions about your career, love life, and goals, just simple acts like developing a workout routine or mindfulness regime can pay some amazing dividends in your future.

The Domino Effect

Your health is as delicately balanced as a row of dominos. Imagine that you have a series of dominos, close enough to each other that if one should fall, the others topple in succession. The metaphor of dominos here illustrates the delicate relationship between stress, sleep, nutrition, lifestyle, and disease. One daily slip-up or unhealthy habit over a period of time can cause a cascading domino effect. Stress from work and relationships can pile up and start manifesting in physical issues like nutrition depletion and a suppressed immune system, leading to lifestyle diseases in the 30s. Bad habits are like dominos too. So, if you have bad health and fitness habits, chances are that you will develop bad work habits, unhealthy financial habits, not-so-sound relationship habits so on and so forth.

A Good Habit Goes Long Way

Focusing on too many things at once is often not sustainable and can get overwhelming. The solution lies in starting in small doses and building on the ‘power of habit’. It could be something as basic as drinking enough water or something as underrated as taking care of your mental health It’s believed that old habits are hard to break and new habits are tough to form. Yet, just by converting those habits into positive lifestyle changes, you could create a positive domino effect. Focusing on too many things at once is often not sustainable and can be overwhelming. The solution lies in starting in small doses and building on the ‘power of habit’. It could be something as basic as drinking enough water or something as underrated as taking care of your mental health. Here are some healthy habits you could cultivate in your 20s for a healthy 30s and so on! 

Get more sleep: 20-somethings love their screen time and yet they bicker about feeling ‘insomniac’. What are they missing? The fact that the blue light emitted by screens fools the mind into staying alert by suppressing melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Too much screen time, especially at night, spoils sleep quality. So, don’t overdo screens. Practicing good sleep habits is not something temporary, it is essential to carry you through life.

Cut back on sugar: A disproportionate amount of the weight we gain in life is accumulated in our 20s, according to data from the ‘Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’. So, try and cut back on empty calories by saying no to sugary soft drinks; breakfast cereals with added sugar or adding table sugar to foods. Too much sugar intake has been linked to lifestyle perils like obesity and diabetes, both of which contribute to heart disease.

Eat clean: Nutrition science is a complicated subject and is debated a lot, but the basics are well established: Eat plenty of plant foods, go easy on processed foods, and stay active. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and phytochemicals in your early years may also help lower your future risk of neurological disorders, cancer, and osteoporosis.

Live an active life: Developing a workout regimen that fits your busy schedule in your 20s may mean squeezing in small bouts of exercise in your hectic schedule. On the bright side, if you make a habit of exercising when your schedule is packed, it’s easier to maintain your workout habit in the later stages of life. Try daily 30-minute walks to establish a personal workout routine. Make it fun. Invite a friend and let your exercise mingle with your social life.

Create a healthy environment: Your environment has a powerful influence on your ability to stick to healthy habits. Dr Brian Wansink at Cornell University studied regular people’s kitchens and found that women who kept a bottle of soda accessible to them weighed 24 to 26 pounds more than those who didn’t. But women who had a fruit bowl in their kitchen weighed 13 pounds less than those who didn’t. So, try not to keep distractions and indulgences at home. Willpower doesn’t always work! Overall, it is crucial to learn the importance of work-life balance early in life so that you don’t face burnout too soon  

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