How exercise and lifestyle can work for you.
“Things start as hopes and end up as habits.” –Lillian Hellman
They say there’s no time like the present to begin good habits. And this saying couldn’t be more true if you’re a woman in her 20s.
While your 20s should be all about you – your adventures, your choices – it’s never too early to begin preparing for later. Your body, after all, has to carry you not just through a cross-country road trip with friends but also through the rest of your life.
And if you have aspirations of moving up in the world, getting married, and having kids – this article is all about some easy habits you can learn to maintain now.
1. Running low on energy? Hydrate.
Nimble as a cat you may be, you needn’t forget what keeps that bounce in your step – water.
This lovely liquid is responsible for you being able to feel your best no matter what life throws your way. So it’s important that if you take your health seriously, you replenish yourself with the proper amount of H2O.
Depending on your mass, you should be drinking at least 2.2 liters of water a day. And quite a bit more if your daily forays take you through the woods and back. If you’re feeling lethargic and dragging – best check your fluid levels. For an actual, good estimate of how much water you should be drinking – check out this handy online calculator.
Now, hydration is sometimes the first thing we forgo in the interests of our busy lives. Take heed, however, that nothing substitutes drinking good, clean water. Not your latté or brevé or even a sports beverage replaces your fluids quite like unadulterated water.
How much and regularly you drink water in your 20s will likely affect how well you combat aging later on. Long periods of dehydration can lead to a lower immune system response, slower metabolism, and a decreased ability to handle all the curve-balls life may throw your way. A good way to keep track of your daily intake is to get two one-liter water containers and fill them up in the morning. At the bare minimum, by the time you go to bed at night, they should be empty — and we don’t mean because you gave them to your roommate’s house plant.
Now, while it is likely recommended you drink more than just two liters a day, this will give you a way to visually keep track of your consumption and hopefully keep you on track for living a long, healthy life.
2. Crick in your back? Check your posture!
Catching yourself slouching at your desk? Finding out that a back massage is essential to take the knots out? One of the first things you should be checking is how you hold yourself throughout the day.
It’s easy to find yourself leaning forward to look at your laptop screen or rolling up like a pretzel on the couch while watching TV. Keeping your back straight while you’re seated not only saves you from unwanted neck and back pain, but it also helps you to take in full, deep breaths — bringing vigor and beauty to this stunning life of yours.
Proper posture and alignment is crucial in preventing spinal injuries. Whether in your weight lifting routine or simply waiting for the bus, the importance of good and proper back alignment cannot be overstated. Especially as you get older or find yourself hauling around toddlers, you’ll be glad you took the time to stay aware of how your body is positioned throughout the course of the day.
Historically bad about keeping up with your posture? Try a yoga or pilates class. Within a few classes, you will likely begin to maintain an awareness of how your body’s posture can affect your mood and your physiology. You’ll hopefully begin to see that simple breathing and posture can change the very way you experience the world around you.
Most importantly, it will help keep your body healthy for the rest of your life.
3. Sssttttreeeetttchhh more
It’s not just for your cat after a long nap in the sun. You, too, need the value of stretching those muscles so you can get the most out of them.
An oft ignored step in your daily activities, stretching can be crucial in giving your muscles the warm-up they need to do all the fun stuff your life demands – whether that be a light jog or climbing a mountain. Your body needs to warm up and cool down properly in order to keep you from being injured.
It only takes three to five minutes and the results can be seen throughout a lifetime.
Before a workout or any heavy exertion, start off with some light dynamic stretching – that’s stretching using motion. That means you’re not just being stationary but moving around.
This light amount of movement combined with a gentle stretching of your muscles will give them that initial warm-up they need to really become pliable.
And don’t forget to stretch after you’re done dancing the night away!
Doesn’t matter if it’s an aerobics class or the Tango – stretching will keep blood flowing throughout all your extremities.
4. Proper form
Anything worth doing is worth doing right, right?
Whether it’s a new workout routine or interpretative dance, always strive to execute the move properly. This may be frustrating at times because it takes your body some practice and you may need to revisit old techniques — but overall you’ll find the benefits of whatever activity you’re doing will be increased exponentially if you are doing it right.
The importance of learning a new skill or technique – whether it be programming or pilates – relies upon you first learning the basics correctly.
From that foundation, everything else is sure to follow. However, if you find yourself ever slipping from those basics, it’s good to go back and relearn them. This way, not only will you be better prepared but you’ll be able to teach those around you.
5. Nourish your body
Too busy for breakfast? Slithering out the door without lunch? In order to do your best at work, in your relationships, and at school, you need to take what you eat seriously.
The foods that you consume now will be part of you long into your later years. That’s not to say you shouldn’t — and who doesn’t — occasionally indulge yourself.
How you treat yourself in your 20s will carry over into your 30s and beyond!
And do remember: women need plenty of good sources of folic acid and calcium to optimize their health. That extra glass of milk (or calcium-enriched soy or orange juice) you drink a day now will be helping you later on!
So no matter your schedule, there’s no excuse for forgoing a meal – especially if you’ll be running around for years to come.
And for those exercise addicts out there, this is doubly important. How you replenish your protein and carbohydrates will ultimately affect your performance. Your body needs those raw building blocks to keep building muscle tissue and keep you not just looking fit – but feeling fit.
6. Dress for Success
Ever been in an aerobics class where someone was awkwardly dressed? Who isn’t awkwardly dressed in an aerobics class to begin with?
But the person who is concerned with how they look – wearing clothes that make them uncomfortable will affect their performance. We all look the fool at one time or another – there’s no way around it. However, dress in a way that instills confidence in you; no matter if that is at the gym or at work. Doing so will give you that added boost you need to engage those around you.
Because you have a lot to offer this world, there’s no sense limiting yourself by being worried that you’re wearing the wrong coat. This will inevitably become useful later in life, when your responsibilities will increase and you will be pushed further and further into doing new, stranger activities – like managing a company or having to tell a coworker that he’s fired.
So, if clothes are s