1. Not Drinking Enough Water
Water accounts for 60 percent of our body so it’s not too surprising that drinking water benefits your total body health. Staying hydrated helps to keep your memory sharp, your mood stable and your motivation intact. Keeping up with your fluids helps your skin stay supple, your body cool down when it’s hot, allows your muscles and joints to work better and helps clean toxins from your body via your kidneys.
So, how much water should you be drinking? The Institute of Medicine says adult men need about 13 cups per day of fluid; adult women need about 9. (You get about an additional 2 1/2 cups of fluid from foods.) But because one size doesn’t fit all, the best way to know if you’re adequately hydrated is to monitor your urine color: if it’s light yellow (the color of lemonade), that means you’re drinking enough.
2. Eating Late at Night
There are a couple of reasons why you should think about moving your dinner hour earlier. Researchers suspect that the longer lapse between meals allows the body to process the food more efficiently. There is some research around intermittent fasting (where you space out your meals and eat in a shorter window), that suggests it may help with weight loss. (Learn more about intermittent fasting)
Another reason is that you may sleep better: according to the National Institutes of Health, late-night meals can cause indigestion that interferes with sleep.
Plus, most of us aren’t eating carrots and apples late at night—we’re reaching for snacky foods that aren’t necessarily the healthiest choices.
3. Not Getting Enough Exercise
Physical activity has lots and lots of health benefits (seriously, the list goes on and on). Not only does it keep you looking and feeling great, but exercising regularly can help you lose weight and boost your energy. Exercising regularly can also help you live longer. Additionally, exercise keeps your heart healthy; lowers your risk of some types of chronic disease, such as breast cancer and some aggressive forms of prostate cancer; improves blood flow to your brain, keeping you sharp; and helps with blood sugar control.
Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, each week, plus 2 or more days of muscle-strengthening activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (e.g., running) and 2 or more days of resistance training.
4. Skimping on Sleep
You know that falling short on sleep is a major no-no, but why—what’s the big deal? Research shows that not getting enough shut-eye can impact a whole slew of things: it can compromise your immune system, your judgment and ability to make decisions (you are also more likely to make mistakes) and your heart health. Being sleep-deprived may fuel depression and make it harder for you to lose weight if you’re dieting—and more likely that you’ll give in to that sweet temptation tomorrow.
Aim to get around 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, although there is no magic number, says the National Sleep Foundation, so listen to your body and try to get the amount of sleep that your body needs to function at its best. (Eat these 9 foods to help you sleep better.)
Pictured recipe: Air-Fryer Turkey Stuffed Peppers
5. Eating Too Much Sodium
Americans, on average, eat about 1,000 mg more sodium each day than we should. One of the easiest ways to cut your sodium intake is to cook at home using fresh ingredients. Restaurant foods and processed foods both tend to be very high in sodium. To trim your sodium intake even further, try boosting the flavor of food cooked at home with herbs and spices rather than salt.
6. Choosing Foods Because They “Sound Healthy”
More and more food labels are sporting health benefits on their labels. If such claims lure you in, know that just because a product lacks fat or gluten or carbs doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier. For example, fat-free products often deliver more sugar than their counterparts (and many full-fat options are the healthier choice). Avoid being duped by a healthy-sounding label claim by comparing the Nutrition Facts Panels and ingredient lists across brands of the same food category. It’s worth stating that some of the healthiest foods at the grocery store don’t have any packaging or branding like fruits and vegetables.