Your 20s can be a hectic and confusing time — a decade filled with soul-searching and trial and error. Although it may not be on the top of your priority list, there are a number of health habits you should adopt beginning in your 20s. Starting to think about picking up these habits when you're younger can not only set you on the path for a longer and healthier life, but it can help instill habits that will stick with you as you age.
"Establishing habits that support good health during your young adult years can certainly contribute positively to staying healthy in the long run," says Marci Clow, MS, RD to Bustle over email. "The older we get, the more stuck in our ways we tend to become, and adopting new habits potentially becomes more laborious. But if you build a sturdy foundation in your 20s, staying healthy becomes more like second nature."
Although eating healthy and exercising are habits we should adopt in our 20s and beyond, there are other important things for our help we should be starting as soon as possible. If you're in your 20s, you should try making these seven healthy habits part of your usual routine.
1. Get More Sleep
For most people in their 20s, the days of 4 a.m. bedtimes and 1 p.m. wake ups are long gone, but the occasional late night is definitely bound to happen. "The amount of regular sleep you need to function may be different for you than for others of the same age and gender, but it's good for everyone to establish a regular plan to get your body the sleep it needs to recharge," says Clow. "Regular fatigue can cause your body to be vulnerable to weakened immune function."
2. Wear Sunscreen
When it comes to your skin, your 20s is all about protection and prevention. "If you haven’t used a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen daily up to this point, start now," says dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban. "The sun damage you prevent now will mean healthier more beautiful skin for decades to come."
3. Go To The Dentist
"Not too far down the road, pregnancy is hard on a woman’s dental health, and menopause delivers another blow," says family physician Allie McAllister, MD, MPH over email. "Poor dental health can contribute to a number of health problems, including heart disease." Try to see your dentist every six months to make sure you're keeping up on your oral health.
4. Only Take Pills When Necessary
Sometimes it may seem like taking a Z-pack is a good quick-fix, but taking antibiotics and other prescription medicine too often can cause harm down the long run, according to US News & World Report Health. "Rather than reduce stress in their lives, overstressed women might lean on prescription anti-anxiety drugs to help them relax and other drugs that help them get to sleep," says McAllister. "They often take too many over-the-counter drugs for tension headaches. All of these drugs, when taken regularly, are detrimental to a woman’s health."
5. Take Care Of Your Bones
"Bone mass peaks in your 20s, and both weight-bearing exercise and diet can contribute to bone mass," says Clow. Be sure to include a diet high in calcium and vitamin D, and participate in bone-strengthening exercises such as weight training, walking, and hiking. "Think of it like money in a bank: The more calcium you deposit earlier in life, the stronger you will be later in life."
6. Reduce Sugar Intake
Excess sugar consumption has been linked to many chronic diseases, according to a study published in JAMA Journal Of Internal Medicine. "If we expect to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes...the science shows that we need to reduce sugar intake, and why not make this a habit while in your 20s?" says Clow.
7. Chill Out
Stress is present at all life stages, but learning how to deal in your early adult life is a good idea as chronic stress can contribute to chronic disease. "Exercise can help with stress, as can meditation, good sleep habits, yoga etc.," says Clow.
You don't need to adopt every single one of these habits to be healthy, but one or two can only help you as you head into your 30s, 40s, and beyond.
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