If 2020 has taught us one thing, it’s how important our health is, both now and in the future. When young you might feel bulletproof and too busy with the day to day to really focus on your fitness. We are all creatures of habit. Whether good or bad an ingrained habit can be hard to change, especially the older we get.
Beginning a fitness routine later in life can REALLY feel like a drag; but if you’re already accustomed to looking after yourself, it’s simply second-nature. If you employ healthy fitness habits while youth is on your side, you’re much more likely to create a healthy, happy future you! Here are 15 fabulous fitness habits to latch onto in your 20’s for good health now and beyond. You’ll feel great now, and your 40-something self will thank you!
Toughen up with Strength Training
Strength training is fantastic for your overall health. If you regularly practice strength training while you’re young, you are building a firm foundation for future fitness. Strength training not only increases muscle mass, it also boosts metabolism, burns a bunch of calories, eases joint pain and promotes a good night’s sleep! Don’t dodge the dumbbells, aim for at least one strength training session per week. A personal trainer can help you develop a plan (and make you stick to it!) while making sure you’re doing it right and preventing injury.
Naturally over time lean muscle mass diminishes with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the lean muscle you use, you’ll unwillingly up your percentage of body fat 🙀. So use it or lose it people!
Schedule a Sporting Activity With Friends
Everything’s more fun with friends. Squash, tennis, volleyball, cricket…whatever your sporting flavour make it a fun weekly get-together with friends. Playing a sport is good for you in many ways, it’s a great social activity, keeps you moving and gives you a good healthy dose of competitive release.
According to Beyondblue:
The social aspect of being part of a team is great for our wellbeing. Essentially you’re adding an additional support network to your world. Human connection is a critical factor in maintaining good mental health, and sport has a funny way of fast-tracking new friendships.
Take Cooking Classes
When we’re young and busy it can be tempting to hit the takeaway, especially if you don’t have much cooking experience. A great way to broaden your healthy diet horizon is to take healthy eating cooking classes. The more skilled you are in the kitchen, the easier it is to avoid unhealthy foods, the more your friends are going to want to ‘dinner party’ with you, AND you’ll save money by reducing how often you order or dine out.
There are a bunch of great virtual cooking classes online too, check them out.
Drink Loads and Loads of Water
Now we won’t drown you in the benefits of water, we’re all aware of the importance of staying hydrated. But how much water should you drink? The well documented recommendation is 2.6L of water per day for adult men and 2.1L for adult women; but these figures are based on an average weight. Depending on your height, weight and level of activity you might need more or less of this precious resource. CSIRO dietitian Pennie Taylor recommends 35ml of fluid per kilo of bodyweight as a good rule of thumb.
Tips for getting more water into you
- Before a coffee or anything else in the morning, have a glass of water with a slice of lemon
- Drink water prior to and with every meal (this can help you avoid overeating)
- Keep up the fluids before and after exercise
- Having an alcoholic beverage? Slurp down a quick glass of water first
- Spice it up a little by making a batch of iced green tea or mint-infused agua
- Craving something fizzy? Grab a cold soda or mineral water and squeeze in a little lime
Have Fun and Laugh Like your Life Depends on It
Laughter is the best medicine. Is there anything better than a good giggle to work those abs and obliques? When your cheek muscles are sore you know you’re doing it right. Laughter draws people together, strengthens relationships and triggers healthy physical and emotional changes in the body.
We can use laughter to diminish pain, strengthen our immune system, relieve the damaging effects of stress, and bring our mind and body back to balance. Partake in activities and hang out with people that give you joy. Happiness as a habit can add years to your life.
Fun(ny) Fact: Okay, so it’s no replacement for going to the gym, but one study found that laughing for 10 to 15 minutes p/day can burn approximately 40 calories. That could be enough to help you burn up to 2kgs over the course of a year – just for having a giggle!
Enjoy Nature whenever you Can
Even if that means a walk in the city centre park. Sitting under an old tree. Take a drive to somewhere different, take a bike ride by a lake and feed the birds, play outside with your fur-babies. Nature is our natural de-stresser and the sun’s vitamin D is essential for optimal health. Nature helps us feel calmer, and gives our mind a much needed break from our busy modern lives. What regular activities can you take outside? Make sure you leave the phone behind and soak up your surroundings.
Nature helps in emotional regulation and improves memory function. A study on the cognitive benefits of nature found that subjects who took a nature walk did better on a memory test than the subjects who walked down the urban streets (Berman, Jonides, Kaplan, 2008).
“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”
– Mary Davis
Don’t Diet!! (Wait…What??)
One of our favourite nutritionists Rachael Bradford recently penned an article for us called Getting Back on Track with Food. She lists a whole bunch of good food choices and encourages readers to choose just three changes that are relevant to you. The positive effects of doing this is SOOO much more powerful than dieting.
“The truth of the matter is that diets fail people. Do yourself a favour, get off the Diet Merry-Go-Round and make positive and healthful food choices that are right for you. Listen to your body’s physical symptoms, tap into your hunger and fullness cues and armed with some nutrition science knowledge, you will become your own food expert.
It’s making the right food choices for your body that actually works.”
– Rachael Bradford
Prepare for a Snack-Attack
We all get the munchies during the day, it’s natural – we’re supposed to snack. However, if we’re not prepared for a snack-attack, poor food choices can be overwhelmingly tantalising. To help keep your fingers from reaching for the crisps, keep these healthy snacks on hand:
Healthy snack pantry staples
- Nuts and seeds, yoghurt, fruit, hard-boiled egg, vegetable crudites and hummus, crackers with cheese and avocado, pickles, healthy muesli or protein bars
Shout yourself an amazing slumber-inducing bedding set and pillow and make this space your health haven. Getting a full night’s Zzzz’s gifts our bods with a whole swathe of health benefits. Snoozing is good for your heart, helps you lose weight (how easy is that!), increases memory, improves mood, productivity and boosts your immune system. A full eight hours of shut-eye is recommended by health professionals.
- Cut down on coffee and other stimulants like alcohol
- Resist the late night snack-attack and ensure you’re not eating sugary foods close to bedtime
- 30 mins before bed do something relaxing and not screen related
Look the part (buy good workout clothes)
Treating yourself to good quality activewear has both mental and physical benefits. When you look the part you feel the part, and getting into your fitness finery can really help put you in the mood for a workout. Whether you’re swimming, cycling or lifting weights the right gear can even help improve your performance and technique. And THAT feels good!
Compression wear increases blood flow in order to keep hard-working muscles oxygenated and energised. Moisture-wicking synthetic materials can also tackle sweat woes, so you don’t feel damp and heavy during and after exercise. So go on…splurge, this kind of shopping is good for you!
Combine several good habits
Try to choose two to three good healthy habits that you can do at home, and two to three that get you out and about. Remember you can combine many of these good self-deeds into one super-habit! For example: At home you might choose a day, afternoon or evening where you’re dedicated to cooking up a healthy storm of meals for the week. Warm up with some dynamic stretches, get cracking with a 20-min easy at-home workout and treat yourself after your nourishing meal to a nice soak in the bath or shower before retiring early with a good book. There you have it…5 healthy habits in one!
Stretch to be your best
An often overlooked key to performance and recovery is found in stretching. Stretching helps you to access your full range of motion during exercise and remove lactic acid after exercise. It can also help prevent injuries.
But the benefits of stretching don’t stop there. Regular stretching keeps your muscles flexible, which makes all kinds of everyday tasks easier. From putting on your shoes to reaching for something behind you, good flexibility helps keep everything within reach.
While there’s a lot of ways to stretch, fitness professionals typically agree that stretching before exercise should consist of dynamic movement (think swimmer’s arm swinging before a race) and saving the static stretching for after exercise when your muscles are already warm and have good blood flow to your muscles.
Choose wacky, spontaneous classes
If hitting the same fitness activities week in, week out is starting to get monotonous, add something different to the mix. Why not try surfing lessons, horse riding, rock climbing, martial arts or dance classes. Choosing different activities stimulates and sparks concentration in the brain, and will often work different muscles in your body than your usual routine. Plus you’re learning a new skill, you might make new friends, or even find your life’s passion!! Commit to a different activity with a mate – everything’s more fun with friends.
Love your core
We need our core for everything. It’s literally our body’s support system. Without a strong core we are much more susceptible to back pain, injury, lack of balance and poor cardiovascular health.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to say you’re destined for a lifetime of 100 daily crunches. There are plenty of exercises to work your core and help you breeze through growing older. Try yoga or pilates and make planking a daily habit. You can even activate your core while sitting at your desk, why not throw that on your to-do-list!
Did you know?
A strong core enables us to breathe deeply, sending oxygen to tired muscles and aiding recovery during training.
Kick off some cardio
Regular cardio exercise is a secret weapon in long term fitness, endurance and stamina. Increasing your oxygen intake and getting that heart rate going makes your lungs and blood vessels work more efficiently at delivering oxygen throughout your body. It’s a great way to stimulate the system and leave you feeling energised and revitalised. Kick those 3pm yawns to the kerb with some cardio.
At the Gym
- Jump rope
- Bike or rowing machine
- Strength circuits
- Boxing classes
Out in Nature
- Power-walking or running
- Cycling or swimming
- Lunges, squats, push ups, burpees
- Hiking, canoeing or skiing
- Dancing or organised sports
The trick to sticking to good fitness habits for life
Developing healthy habits in your 20’s can help you feel good for a lifetime. Simply, when we do good things we feel good about ourselves; when we make poor choices we feel guilty right? It should be second-nature to choose the habits that are best for us – but hey, sometimes it’s not that simple. The trick is to make good habits your ‘normal’ while you’re young. So on the occasions when you DO want to let your hair down, or chow down on something naughty while you binge-watch Netflix – it’s a break in lifestyle, and you can enjoy being a bit of a rebel!