Despite still raging conflicts and environmental crises, the 21st century has been the most peaceful and prosperous time in humanity’s history.
Perhaps a big part of this is modern medicine that makes us live longer and better lives and technology allowing our creative spirits to flourish in ways never seen before.
But why is it then that paradoxically, we’ve seen a decrease in our perceived quality of life?
And what, if anything, can we do to make full use of this brave new world we are living in?
The problem is modern lifestyle habits. Unfortunately these modern lifestyle habits are ruining our health.
From the times of bronze tools to the Roman aqueducts, steam locomotives, and now having computers many times more complex than the machines, which calculated the Apollo 11 moon landing in our pockets, humanity sure has come a long way.
But, yet again, bring up the paradoxical nature of how in many ways, we’ve not only never been as unequal as now but also haven’t evolved for this type of lifestyle.
This isn’t to bash against modern technologies or to propagate some sort of ecofascist message, but it is an objective fact our bodies weren’t meant for this.
Simply put, our brains didn’t evolve nearly as fast as our culture and minds did.
To put it in numbers, we, as a species, have had the idea of democracy for about 2500 years, the steam locomotive for 200, the radio for 100, and the modern version of the internet for 30.
In contrast, it took us more than half a million years to evolve from our nearest ancestor with neanderthals.
What this tells us is that, while we are consciously aware of the very fast-paced and often paradigm-shifting changes going on through our modern era, instinctively, we can easily fall prey to disruptive habits and modes of behavior. Let’s take a look at some of these modern lifestyle habits that are ruining your health.
Starting off our proverbial list of sins, a sedentary lifestyle is perhaps the most obvious negative consequence of the typical 21st-century way of living.
And it isn’t exactly our fault – many of our jobs require us to stare at a computer screen all day or at the very least, sit at a desk.
This has further been worsened during these particular times, where even school and other activities transitioned to an online format.
I don’t think it needs to be explained in detail why spending the majority of your week in a chair is quite bad for you purely physiologically, but there are disastrous consequences for people who do not engage in even the most basic of physical activities.
The severity of this problem, however, leads to quite easy-to-implement solutions.
Getting a standing desk, taking short 10 or 15-minute breaks around every hour to do some stretching, or even walking outside.
All of the above are fantastic ways of getting some good blood flow in your veins and arteries, as well as healing eye fatigue.
Now, another aspect of the sedentary life could be the constant want to multitask and do everything as efficiently from the computer as possible.
While this doesn’t treat the crux of this need, watching videos on the treadmill or listening to audiobooks or podcasts while jogging or hiking is another way to healthily coincide these two aspects.
A deadly combo, our previous problem and our desire for quick and delicious food that not only doesn’t require cooking, but arrives straight at our door.
While takeout can be a godsend for busy, ambitious businesspeople or college students swamped with work, it can become a seriously tempting possibility to rely more and more on it as our primary source of nutrition.
Not just delivery, but processed foods in general, tag-teaming with a sedentary lifestyle have created an obesity and preventable heart disease epidemic across the entire world.
But to understand how to tackle this, we need to understand why this has become a problem in the first place, and fortunately for us, it isn’t that hard to see.
Processed foods can be easily mass-produced, making them affordable, and quick and because their manufacturing is in the hands of massive corporations, the optimization of their flavor is the sole priority for massive research labs.
Now, how can this be fought back against?
Research suggests price and even time don’t factor in as much as one might think. Instead, the main ingredient in this recipe for disaster is a lack of proper education on the subject.
For example, many of you, if you’re living in North America or Europe might have seen the so-called food pyramid, where bread and cereals are placed as the base of the structure and therefore implied to be the foodstuff we’re meant to consume the most.
At the same time, foods like fats are placed at the top, meaning they should be rarely indulged in and should only be eaten in small amounts.
This version of the food pyramid is a false.
What we can take from this is that simple, correctly portioned, and well-timed meals can not only greatly benefit our health but often turn out tastier and cheaper than the expertly marketed junk food we may currently consume.
Take rice, for example, or the whole of East and South Asian cuisines.
Maintaining the world’s largest populations on often quite harsh terrain for centuries while also being lauded as titans in the world of gastronomy can tell us they’ve definitely “cracked the code,” so to speak, on diet and deliciousness.
This is mainly due to food that is both easy to prepare in mass for a large family (rice, soups, stews etc.) and rich in vegetables and spices.
As well as the fact lavish and overly sweet desserts historically haven’t been popular outside of Europe.
Of course, there are outliers, and becoming well-read on each individual cuisine you might want to try out is a must.
Sushi and ramen, for example, aren’t easy or quick to make in large quantities and definitely aren’t so cheap as to cook them most days of the week, while other Japanese meals such as yaki udon are more suited to your average western kitchen.
Continuing on, another bad work-related habit is staying up late.
Well, perhaps that’s actually a bit of a misconception and is often poorly worded.
What recent medical studies tell us is that not having a consistent sleep schedule matters more than simply going to bed later than most.
What that means is that the quantity and quality of sleep, as well as the time at which we go to and wake up from sleep are the true key factors in this equation.
This means that as long as we get enough good rest, it doesn’t really matter if we sleep from 22:00 to 6:00 or from 2:00 to 10:00, as long as we wake up around the same time every day.
Quality of sleep is also an important part of maintaining normal energy levels throughout the day.
Plenty of electronic devices, such as computers and phones, have a built-in night mode the user only needs to turn on from the settings.
These come in the form of blue light filters, which warm up your screen’s tone and brightness, making it more comparable to nighttime light and thus making it easier to fall asleep after you’re done with your work.
And lastly, we have the overall time one needs to stay asleep.
Doctors recommend 6 to 8 hours of sleep per minimum, with the higher number being the optimal time when it can be achieved.
Modern, fast-paced life has created an illusion that we can eat into our sleep time to achieve goals we don’t account for the length of during the day, but this belief can be extremely damaging in the long term.
We’ve talked about the breakneck speed at which modern life goes by and which it requires of us, lest we fall by the wayside.
But one thing we haven’t touched upon yet is the stress all this constant catching up generates in us and how unhealthy and damaging it can be.
Leave out the overly dramatic mental breakdowns to the side for a bit. Even the smallest amounts of chronic stress can do horrible things to our bodies.
Stress is generally agreed upon to be the state, which our bodies put us in when a threat occurs.
Most commonly, this is called the fight or flight response (although it’s technically a fight, flight or freeze response) and corresponds with an increased amount of adrenalin being pumped into the body and a partial shutdown of the body’s pain receptors.
This makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective: it doesn’t matter if you get hurt getting cut up on branches, if you’re running from a bear, for example.
However, what is a boosted state, working to make us deal with immediate and crucial threats to our survival, translates terribly into long, drawn-out institutional threats.
Yes, if you don’t do a good job at work, you might get fired, lose your house and any savings you might have, then possibly die on the streets from disease or starvation.
But one, that isn’t likely to happen in that straight-forward of a sequence, and two, even if it does, it’ll be over the span of weeks.
Compare that to the immediate danger of getting mauled by wolves in the next minute, and you’ll start to see how one system may be ill-suited for both of these situations.
Returning to the specific problem, cigarette smoking most often tends to arise as a behavior when people are confronted with large amounts of stress.
The negative effects of tobacco have been listed over and over again for half a century now, but safe to say they’ve been proven and they are all very, very bad.
From coughing and a distinctive stink, reduced lung capacity, and increased risk of many different types of cancer, the earlier one quits smoking, the better.
Vape pens and e-cigarettes are temporary solutions to help wean one off of tobacco, but they are still dangerous.
If you find yourself needing to use smoking as a social function, try getting a fidgety toy or object, or start chewing gum or candies as an oral substitute.
The American national institute for alcohol abuse and alcoholism defines the upper limit of consumption as more than four drinks on any day or more than 14 drinks per week for men.
For women, the criteria are more than three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week.
While these aren’t exact numbers, the prevalence of alcohol in media and western culture, in general, has made the overconsumption of the drug an easily overlooked problem.
A relatively simple but effective tip for this problem could be to treat alcohol with reverence.
Instead of drinking your favorite cheap beer, only drink it when it’s the high-quality brew you love and only with the appropriate food by the side.
Make it an experience, not a substitute for a sleep-like stupor.
And finally, we come to a solution for practically all our previous problems.
Setting the rare cases of steroid abuse or body dysmorphia, translating into a warped view of one’s physique, this is the closest thing to a universal answer to the previously listed problems.
You can afford to sit in a chair most of the day if you’ve ran on the treadmill enough before you go to bed.
If you want to get good results and see your muscles grow while your fat melts away, processed foods are going to quickly become your number one enemy.
Sleep is necessary for the body to synthesize muscle tissue, a.k.a make your muscles bigger.
Smoking is noticeably going to reduce your lung capacity and is easily going to make you run slower, breathe harder and lift with more difficulty.
And of course, alcohol makes for poor performance almost anywhere, but especially in the gym.
This isn’t to say all these substance abuse and systemic job problems can all be solved by a list of tips and tricks that would be ridiculous at best and malicious at worst.
But by applying seemingly insignificant and simple routines to our daily lives, we can effectively begin to counter modern life’s unintended side effects and start appreciating the bountiful age we are all living in.
And so… What are you going to do about it?
Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle
Have you ever wondered how some people manage to stay healthy and balanced while others seem to struggle with their health no matter what they do?
There must be secrets to a healthy lifestyle that the “healthy” people know and we don’t.
Let’s explore the secrets to a healthy lifestyle and discover how we can all apply all of this to our own lives.
Are you ready to learn more? Let’s get started!
We sit in cars, and then we sit at desks. We work on computers, and then we relax in front of screens.
It’s no wonder that nowadays, the average person moves around only half as much as they did just 50 years ago.
And this lack of movement is having a serious impact on our health, contributing to a variety of chronic conditions.
So what can we do about it?
Well, fighting the modern-day sedentary lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore.
There are plenty of enjoyable ways to get moving and exercise our bodies.
Taking a brisk walk in the park, going for a swim, or playing a game of tennis – these are all great ways to get some exercise while also having fun.
And when we make movement part of our daily routine, we can help to offset the health risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
So get out there and start moving.
Strive to find the best type of exercise that you can enjoy and stick to in the long term.
This is the first “secret” to a healthy lifestyle – using the body for what it was designed… Movement!
Do you know what’s in your food? If you’re eating mass-produced foods, the answer is probably “no”.
These foods are often void of nutrients and full of a variety of other substances that may potentially be harmful to the body.
That’s why we should primarily rely on foods grown by small local businesses, such as grass-fed beef and organic vegetables.
These businesses are more likely to use sustainable practices and avoid using harmful chemicals in their crops.
As a result, their products are not only more nutritious, but they’re also better for the environment AND your health.
So next time you’re planning to shop, make an effort to search out small local businesses.
Ditch big market chains for the better!
It’s no secret that we live in a pretty stressful world. With work, family, and social obligations, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly running around with your head cut off.
And while a little bit of stress can be good for you, too much of it can take a serious toll on your health in the long term.
That’s why it’s so important to find ways to manage your stress levels. From yoga and meditation to simply taking a few deep, focused breaths, there are a number of different ways to do it.
And once you find what works for you, you’ll be well on your way to leading a healthier, happier life.
All in all, though, stress management is about awareness of your reactions and making the conscious decision to respond rather than react.
The Social Magic
You’ve probably heard it said that laughter is the best medicine. Well, it turns out that there’s some truth to that old saying.
This is perhaps because the social connection is essential for our physical and mental health.
So what exactly is it about the social connection that is so good for us?
For one thing, social connection helps to reduce stress levels.
When we feel isolated and alone, we perceive more threats in the world around us, and our bodies respond accordingly by releasing stress hormones.
Chronic stress can lead to a host of health problems, including heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
But when we have strong social connections, we feel supported and loved, which helps to buffer the negative effects of stress.
So next time you’re feeling lonely or stressed, reach out to a friend or loved one.
And go out there and socialize – for we, humans, are social beings!
So, what is the secret to a healthy lifestyle? It’s not one thing. It’s a combination of things.
Eating well, getting enough exercise, and reducing stress are all important factors in maintaining your health.
But it’s not always easy to do all these things on your own. That’s where Hey Healthful comes in.
We help you develop healthy habits and routines that work for you and your lifestyle.
Are you ready to make some changes and get healthier? Let today be the day you start implementing healthy habits to help you achieve your health & fitness goals.