You probably already know that fitness is important. But is there really a benefit to building fitness habits in your 20s?
The answer is yes! Not only do you have more energy at this age, you’re also most likely not yet busy building a family. By the time you already have a family to provide for, you would have already built solid fitness habits that are much harder to break.
So, what kind of fitness habits are we talking about? Read on to find out!
Habit #1: Learning About Fitness
It may sound cliché, but when it comes to fitness, knowledge is power. Now, we don’t know if you’ve already noticed, but there is a lot of BS going around in this industry.
From get-ripped-quick programs and diets to magic supplements that can supposedly help you lose a ridiculous amount of weight in only 30 days, there are just too many things that can derail your progress if you don’t know what you’re doing.
By learning as much as you can about the science behind health and fitness, you’ll be able to easily spot BS claims and only stick to what you know would work.
Habit #2: Starting Small
One of the biggest things that keep people from realising their fitness goals is their tendency to do too much too soon. Instead of making small, sustainable lifestyle changes, they go for things like seven-day challenges, crazy fad diets, and ridiculous workouts.
The problem with these things is that while they may work in the beginning, they’re impossible to stick to for most people because they’re almost always centered on deprivation and killing yourself in the gym—even if you’ve never eaten healthy or exercised in your life before.
If you want to succeed, your focus should instead be on making small lifestyle changes that you can build on over time. For instance, instead of drinking four cans of soda per day, maybe you can cut it back to two. Instead of always taking the elevator, maybe go up a couple of floors via the stairs. Instead of not working out at all, maybe do a couple of five-minute bodyweight workouts per week.
The idea here is that because the changes you make are so small, there’s a much bigger chance you’ll be able to stick with them. Eventually, you’ll find that you’re able to make more significant lifestyle changes much more easily because you’ve given yourself time to get used to making healthy decisions first.
Habit #3: Strength Training
Another important habit you should get into in your 20s is strength training. Not only is it easier to get stronger while you’re young, but building muscle in your 20s would also help you keep problems like fat gain, bone density loss, and limited mobility at bay as you grow older.
Also, the stronger the foundation you build early on, the easier it would be for you to stay fit and healthy as you reach your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond. You’ll not only be able to maintain your physique more easily, you’ll also be less likely to develop medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
Habit #4: Cardio
Aside from strength training, though, you also need to keep your heart healthy through regular cardiovascular exercise.
The good news is that it’s much easier to add cardio to your routine than strength training. All you have to do is pick any vigorous activity you enjoy and do more of it. You can swim, play basketball, hike, run, bike, or even dance.
And if none of those activities do it for you, you can also just incorporate cardio in your daily routine. Take the stairs whenever you have to move between floors. Pick the farthest parking spot from where you need to go so you have to cover longer distances on foot. Walk your dog more frequently.
Habit #5: Making Healthier Food Choices
It’s easy to feel invincible when you’re young. If you’re like most 20 year olds, you can eat junk food and go on drinking binges without feeling terrible or gaining weight. This, however, doesn’t mean that these things aren’t taking a toll on your health.
In reality, all these unhealthy choices add up even if you don’t immediately see their effects. And once your body hits its breaking point, you’ll immediately start having problems. For some people, it happens in their 30s. For others, it happens a little later in life. The bottom line, though, is that it’s definitely not a matter of if, but when.
So, does this mean you can never eat junk food and drink alcohol ever again? Not at all!
Studies show that cheat meals are okay and may actually help you stick to a healthier eating plan long term. This means you can still enjoy the occasional pizza, beer, cake, or whatever other food or drink it is that you love. The goal is to simply tip the balance so you’re eating healthy around 80% of the time.
And, again, you don’t have to change your eating habits overnight. Just make small tweaks over time and you’ll be just fine.
Habit #6: Getting Enough Sleep
Another thing that people take for granted all the time is sleep. In fact, some even glamourise getting just three or four hours a night because they think it makes them appear more hardworking than everyone else.
Here’s the thing, though: just like eating unhealthy food, just because you don’t immediately feel the effects of chronic sleep deprivation doesn’t mean it’s not terrible for you.
But just how bad is it? Here are just some of its effects:
● Impaired cognitive function
● Fat gain which could lead to mobility issues, heart disease, and hypertension
● Increased risk for infections
● Reduced sex drive
● Fertility issues
● Blood sugar problems that could lead to diabetes
As a general rule, you should be getting anywhere between seven to nine hours of sleep per night depending on how old you are.
So, either learn to manage your time better so you don’t have to sacrifice sleep for work or learn to say ‘no’ more so you never have more things than you can handle on your plate at any one time.
Habit #7: Knowing When to Pull Back
You probably already know that exercise is good for you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do too much of it.
The goal should be to just work out enough to trigger positive adaptations in your body—such as increased strength, endurance, and muscle mass—and then take the rest of the week off to recover. Keep in mind that you make progress while you rest, not during training.
For some people this means working out four days a week and resting three. For others, it could mean training just two days a week and resting five. At the end of the day, your training frequency would ultimately depend on your body’s natural ability to recover.
Needless to say, you should also skip the gym when you’re sick. Not only could powering through make things so much worse for you, but also put everyone else in the gym at risk of getting sick too.
Habit #8: Learning to Enjoy the Process
Aside from their tendency to do too much too soon, another thing that keeps people from realising their fitness goals is their inability to just enjoy the process of getting fit. They’re so focused on where they want to be that they end up quitting when they don’t reach it right away.
A healthier, more sustainable approach is to just enjoy the process of training and making healthier food choices. Doing so not only makes you more likely to spot holes in your approach so you can immediately make adjustments, but also takes impatience out of the equation so you don’t end up throwing in the towel halfway through.
The results will come automatically if you do everything right anyway, so why even worry about them?
Habit #9: Not Comparing Yourself With Other People
When you start working out, you’ll begin to realise just how weak and out of shape you actually are—especially when you see all the fit people walking around the gym.
But don’t let that discourage you. Keep in mind that first, you’re already doing something about the issue, and second, the only person you really need to compete with is yourself. As long as you’re getting bigger and stronger over time, then you’re doing just fine.
Remember that no matter how hard you train, there will always be people who are stronger and fitter than you. If you keep comparing yourself to them, you’ll always feel inadequate. In contrast, if you use your own progress as a measure of how well you’re doing, then you’ll always feel accomplished and eager to see what else you can do.
Habit #10: Staying Hydrated
Out of all the habits we’ve shown you today, this is probably the easiest to build. All you really have to do is drink more water throughout the day. How hard can that be, right? You can even use apps to keep track of your water intake for you, so there’s really no reason for you to fail.
But what’s the big deal anyway? It’s just water, right?
Well, staying hydrated helps you:
● Regulate your body temperature
● Keep your joints well lubricated
● Improve the delivery of nutrients to your cells
● Prevent infections
● Curb cravings and prevent overeating
● Sleep better
● Become more alert and focused
● Be in a better mood
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right?
At the end of the day, it all boils down to making decisions and doing things today that future you would want to high five you for. Don’t wait until you’re too old, sick, or busy to start. Build those fitness habits now to make it easier for future you to stay fit and healthy.