Many people in modern society live an unhealthy lifestyle. That fact is no longer in doubt. What is still not clear is the amount of damage such lifestyles have on an individual, on his or her immediate family, and on the rest of society.
According to a recent survey-based study by the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF), a national not-for-profit group, a whopping 72% of men in Canada led unhealthy lifestyles. Only 6% of the 2,000 men surveyed exhibited healthy lifestyles, which points to a worrying situation of health in the country.
But it’s not just a problem in Canada. Unhealthy habits are a worldwide issue.
According to a recent study by the World Health Organization (WHO), 60% of factors affecting individual health and quality of life are closely related to the lifestyle of an individual. This means that, if one leads an unhealthy lifestyle – even if just a few poor habits are done often enough – it follows that his or her health situation will turn out badly. In summary, the WHO report says millions of people lead unhealthy lifestyles, and thus they encounter illness, disability, and even death at higher rates.
Other debilitating issues – like cardiovascular diseases, weight gain, obesity, joint and skeletal problems, metabolic diseases, hypertension, and even injuries due to violence – all emanate from following these unhealthy choices. It is not the effect of one poor lifestyle choice that has an impact, but the total sum of unhealthy habits.
These findings are an eye-opener, and in this article, we will dive into the differences between healthy and unhealthy lifestyles, their impact on your life, and how you can deal with them.
DEFINITION OF A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
In the simplest definition, a healthy lifestyle is one which you follow to improve your personal health and overall well-being. It is a long-life effect and comes about as a result of a combination of factors. Healthy living entails a number of habits, including healthy eating, physical activities, weight management, and stress management.
To appreciate the importance of a healthy lifestyle, consider that it leaves you fit, energetic, and at a reduced risk of disease. In essence, the habits and activities you pick up in healthy living have a positive impact on your body and, consequently, on your life. Aspects of a healthy lifestyle include good nutrition, daily exercise, and adequate sleep, which health experts say build the foundations for continuing good health.
Stress management in positive ways, like yoga or meditation, is also part of a healthy lifestyle (and beats alternatives like alcohol or opioid addiction, which has grown at an alarming rate). While it is possible to live without any bad habits to attain an extremely healthy lifestyle, most people manage with one bad habit and still live a moderately healthy lifestyle.
THE WORST HABITS
To live a healthy lifestyle, you have to proactively fight the bad habits and it is thus important to know them first. Below are some of the most common unhealthy habits:
Smoking is one of the most common unhealthy habits around the world. It’s responsible for nearly half a million deaths each year in the United States alone. There are many other problems associated with smoking, including:
- Lung cancer
- Gum disease
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
- And many other devastating health problems.
The problem of drinking causes devastation to individuals, families and the larger society. Excessive intake of alcohol causes a lot of health problems including:
- Disease and injury
- Family breakdown
- Increased risk of suicide
- And many other complications.
For these reasons, this is an unhealthy habit that should be dealt with sooner rather than later.
Not Sleeping Well
Good sleep quality is crucial for your overall wellbeing. It helps reduce stress, improve brain function, improve attention, prevent illnesses and boost weight loss.
Major portions of the population have unhealthy sleeping behaviors, or get fewer than seven hours of sleep a night.
Most people think that a lack of exercise just means an increase in weight. That’s unfortunately untrue. Weight gain is one effect, certainly, but the effects of lack of enough exercises can also result in high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome (including obesity and abnormal blood cholesterol levels), coronary heart disease, osteoporosis, Type-2 diabetes, low energy levels, poor posture, and many other health issues.
Other Unhealthy Habits
There are various other poor lifestyle habits that are common in the US and Canada. Here are just a few:
- Too much television
- Poor sitting posture
- Eating too much junk food and too little healthy food
- Addiction to electronic gadgets, like smartphones
- Sunbathing for too long
Recognizing the dangers associated with these habits is the first step towards dealing with them.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO OVERCOME UNHEALTHY HABITS?
Focus on eliminating one bad habit at a time
As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. This is the maxim that should guide your battle against unhealthy habits. You have to start somewhere, and you should focus on breaking one bad habit at a time.
TIPS FOR CHANGING HABITS
Tips For Quitting Smoking
Quitting smoking is not easy but with commitment, it is possible. If you’re ready to quit smoking, speaking with your doctor is always a good place to start. They might recommend nicotine replacement therapy, such as pills or patches, to help you along. You’ll also want to avoid alcohol and other triggers, to make it easier on yourself.
Find a personal reason to quit—maybe it’s to see your children grow up, but maybe it’s as simple as saving money by eliminating an unnecessary (and expensive) habit. Stick to your plan, and don’t give up after a relapse. It happens, but what’s important is that you don’t use a single bad decision as an excuse to go back fully to a bad habit.
Tips to Deal with Drinking
Too much alcohol can turn into poison, both literally and figuratively. Even if you don’t want to quit drinking completely, getting a handle on your drinking can make a big, positive impact on your life. Start spacing drinks out with seltzer or water between each alcoholic beverage. Reserve alcohol for meals, or limit drinking to social occasions only. Alcoholism is a serious condition, but acknowledging the problem is the first step to recovery.
How To Deal With Poor Sleeping
You have to appreciate the importance of sleep before you realize just how detrimental a poor sleep schedule can be. Being poorly rested impacts virtually every other aspect of your life, and it can have serious health impacts as well. To get a better night’s sleep, start limiting screen time before bed, avoiding caffeine, and cutting back on smoking and drinking. Regular daytime exercise, plus a regular sleeping and waking up routine will also go a long way in getting a better night’s sleep. Some sleep problems require more than just that, though, so speak with your doctor if you’re having consistent trouble falling—or staying—asleep.
Overcoming a Lack Of Exercise
If you want to start exercising, the big key is finding motivation. Find a workout partner or running buddy. Try an app like Couch to 5k, which offers an introductory-level approach to running a 5k marathon. The key with building an exercise routine is to force yourself to stick to it until it becomes a habit. Eventually, you’ll become so used to working out that you’ll start to feel more uncomfortable when you skip it!
Looking at bad habits in isolation, the effects are not always crystal clear. However, when you look at the holistic impact they have on your life, you realize how bad these unhealthy habits really are. Start stripping away unhealthy habits one by one to avoid becoming one of the many Canadians suffering from an unhealthy lifestyle.
A single step might seem too small to make an impact, but it’s the start of a long and important change for the rest of your life.