During most people's 20s, they're focused on figuring out their lives, so doing things for their long-term health may be the last thing on their minds. However, maximizing your health in your 20s is important, and there are particular aspects of your health you should pay attention to as a young adult. Starting young can help you establish good habits for the future, as no one wants to have unnecessary problems down the road.
"When we’re in our 20s, it’s easy to think we’re going to live forever," says athletic trainer Colin Diment, MS, ATC over email. "It’s hard to care about our health when we don’t see any immediate negative effects of our unhealthy lifestyle. We can go out for drinks, eat junk food, neglect sleep, work crazy long hours and still get by. But that lifestyle will catch up to you eventually. Not only will it lead to health problems down the road, it’s keeping you from doing your best work now."
Even if you're not perfect, you can start picking up on the most crucial habits that will save your butt later. If you're in your 20s, you'll want to pay particular attention to these eight components of your health, as they'll make a big difference both now and in the long run.
1. Wearing Sunscreen
While most of us wear sunscreen to the beach, many of twenty-somethings don't reapply after swimming or just rely on their face makeup for SPF. However, being diligent about wearing sunscreen and reapplying every few hours can not only help fight skin cancer, but it can prevent aging, sun spots, and wrinkles as well.
2. Monitoring Your Mental Health
"Many different illnesses develop during young adulthood," says psychotherapist Liza Gellerstedt, LCSW over email. "For example the average age of onset for Bipolar Disorder is 25, and research tells us that early intervention with these disorders improves long-term outcomes. Even if you don't have a mental illness, the number of major life decisions that are often made during this time make your 20's a critical time to have a read on your mental health."
3. Sticking To Your Dental Visits
"One of the first things people in their 20s neglect is their teeth," says dentist Kyle Stanley, DDS over email. "It is very common for people around this age to discontinue their regular visits to the dentists and hygienist — possibly because they are getting used to living on their own or because they struggle to pay for appointments on their own. The problem is that this neglect can cause minor, easily-fixable problems to go unnoticed, and they can develop into serious (and expensive) problems down the road."
We hear it time and time again, but it always holds true. "Exercise is important to perform in your twenties," says Dr. Scott Schreiber over email. "It will help avoid unnecessary weight gain, prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, which all begin early in life."
5. Cleaning Up Your Nutrition
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey found that a high percentage of women in their 20s and 30s fail to meet the recommended daily intake for fruits and vegetables, which can affect their nutrient levels. Many aspects of your health rely on these nutrients to develop properly in your 20s, including your bone health and brain health, so eating the right foods is important for more than just your body type.
6. Maintaining Good Social Relationships
Friendships come and go, but once the drama of high school and college is over, you might want to find yourself a solid group of friends or people you can rely on. A 75-year-long study from Harvard University found that good relationships with others is vital to long-term happiness, and these relationships can include friends, parents, and significant others.
7. Fixing Your Posture
Your mom always told you to stand up straight, but now's the time to listen to her. Good posture puts less pressure on your joints, preventing not only discomfort but arthritis, according to Livestrong. It also can make you feel more confident and energetic, according to a study from Ohio State University, so next time you're feeling that afternoon slump, you might want to sit up straight.
It's tempting to stay out all night on the weekends and skimp on sleep on the weekdays, but getting adequate rest is important for more than just not feeling tired. Lack of sleep can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, increase your stress levels, kill your creativity, and even affect your fertility, according to multiple studies.
It might be difficult to enact these habits now, but you'll be sure to thank yourself later.
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