Habits for a longer and healthier life

7 min

We don’t expect the car to get far if we’re filling it up with the wrong fuel or leaving it in the garage for months on end without turning the engine over.

But often we don’t treat our bodies and minds with the same care we would any other essential machine. To live a long and fulfilling life it helps to keep up the habits that will have us in good health.

Good health doesn’t just mean that we’re free from sickness or disease (although that’s always something to be grateful for), it’s about being in the best position physically, mentally, and socially, to enjoy life and navigate the bumps in the road (rather than breaking down) when they do arise. 

Here are some of the science-approved habits you can include on your to-do list each day.

If some of these are new to you, it helps to start small and work your way up slowly.

Get moving

Adding physical activity into your daily routine doesn’t require an expensive gym membership or a complicated workout regime.

It can be any movement that requires using a bit of energy — from walking to lifting weights.

Regular movement can help you manage your weight better, strengthen your bones, muscles and joints, reduce your risk of heart attack, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, and help you feel better by improving your mood, energy and sleep.

Eat a variety of healthy foods

Our diet not only affects how we feel physically and mentally each day, but it plays an important role in our long-term health.

The quality and quantity of the food we eat helps us maintain a healthy weight, improve our mental health, and protect us against chronic disease and premature death.

However, it can be difficult to make good food choices when less than ideal ones are readily available, affordable, and easily over-consumed. Fad diets and food trends make eating even more confusing with an overwhelming amount of conflicting, and often incorrect, information around.

But most experts, research, and guidelines agree on the basics: eat a wide variety of foods from the five food groups, and limit foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.

Learn more about what this looks like at Eat for Health.

Stay connected

The relationships you have with family, friends, and the community can have a huge impact on not only our quality of life but the length of it.

Research has found that social connection has as much of an influence on our risk of dying as smoking and alcohol consumption.

It’s also a significant protective factor against anxiety and depression. Plenty of men struggle to make and maintain their connections as they get older. This is even harder for those living rurally, dealing with unemployment, or are injured or ill. 

Drink less alcohol

Many of us have been raised to see drinking as an Australian pastime, considered either relatively harmless or even healthy.

But recent research and new guidelines show that the risks outweigh any potential benefits, with alcohol contributing to more than 200 different types of disease and injury.

Some impacts are immediate — like falls, accidents, alcohol poisoning and altered behaviour — while others add up over time to significantly affect your physical and mental health.

Aside from benefits for longevity, cutting back on booze can help improve your sleep, mood, energy, and productivity. 


Healthy living

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