60 Days to Better Health
January 07, 2020
How many days does it take to form a new habit? Many studies point to 21 days as the magic number, while other studies suggest it takes months and sometimes up to year for a habit to take hold. Health educators and nutritionists with the Florida Department of Health often promote the health benefits of small lifestyle changes: eating more vegetables and fruits, replacing sodas with water, taking daily walks or choosing the stairs over elevators. These are doable and budget-friendly goals that can fold into your days, become routine and over time do amazing things for your health. The hardest part of healthy habits, after all, is making them stick.
So with small changes in mind, we suggest using the 60 Days to Better Health tool. It’s a simple printer-friendly infographic that highlights five healthy habits that you can make stick. On the back of the graphic is a chart where you can track your progress.
Focus on one or two habits or try all five. Give yourself 60 days to perk up what you eat and drink and how you move throughout the day. If you use tobacco, the Department’s Tobacco Free Florida program is a proven free resource that has helped over 200,000 Floridians quit. And because change can add and even highlight stressors in your life, this is a good time to practice ways to relieve stress.
During January and February, the Department will highlight free resources and services that can help you make your goals.
Eat your colors.
Turns out some of the healthiest foods are the most colorful foods: think kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, squash, carrots, blueberries, strawberries, melons and tomatoes. If you’re crunched for time, you can make healthy meals with frozen vegetables and fruits. You can find recipes for fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruits on FruitsandVeggies.org.
Your meals should also include whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts, and fat-free or low-fat milk, and milk products like yogurt. And pay attention to nutrition labels. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and salt, and beware of added sugars.
ChooseMyPlate.gov centers around a simple tool that can help you rethink what and how much you eat. Think of your plate, fill half of it with vegetables and fruit, a quarter of it with whole grains and the other quarter with a lean meat—dairy is an add-on. If meat and dairy are not for you, the site has options for vegetarians. Find free tips, meal plans, recipes and much more on ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Drink 8 ounces of water 8 times a day.
Water makes up 60 percent of your body—it’s your body's principal chemical! Every system in your body depends on water. Water keeps your temperature normal, it lubricates and cushions joints, it protects your spinal cord and sensitive tissues and it gets rid of wastes through urination, perspiration and bowel movements. When you replace sodas with water, you not only improve your health, you save money and have less daily trash you need to deal with.
Aim for a variety of physical activity every week.
Physical activity is exercise and movement that gets your heart beating. When you walk, run, lift weights, do yoga, do Pilates, play sports, dance, garden, even clean your house, you’re being physically active. Different types of exercise and movement benefit you in different ways. That’s why you need to vary the types of physical activity you do during the week.
Every week you need at least 150 minutes of moderate and vigorous activity OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity only. Moderate aerobic activity is when you’re breathing hard while exercising or moving and you can still talk and have a conversation—that’s called the talk test. Vigorous aerobic activity is when you’re breathing very hard while exercising and you can only say a few words while catching your breath. How much of each type is up to you—the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Move Your Way website has tools and tips that can help you.
At least twice a week, work on strengthening your muscles. Find exercises that work for you: use weights, resistance bands or your body weight.
Every day, stretch to improve your posture and balance, and to help relieve stress.
Tobacco Free Florida offers a number of free and convenient resources to help you quit. Phone Quit, Group Quit, and More Tools to Quit services are available 24/7. If you’re ready to quit, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569). Need inspiration? Check out these videos from the Tips From Former Smokers® campaign.
Anytime you take care of your body and health, you are also taking care of your stress level:
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.
- Be physically active.
- Get seven or more hours of sleep every night.
- Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out.
- Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol. These may seem to help, but they can create more problems and increase your stress.
- Recognize when you need help and talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor or pastor.