The Seven Healthy Habits of Highly Fit People

[ 7 ] March 22, 2008 |



Adopt these seven, simple habits of really fit people and realize the benefits of a healthier body. 

Ever wonder how people who always seem to be in great physical shape got that way? More importantly how do they stay healthy, fit and in-shape?Picture of Fit Woman Stretching

Here are the seven healthy habits that almost all fit people seem to have in common:

Healthy Habit #1: They Eat

No one ever dieted their way to long term fitness and health. Despite the disturbing trend toward fad diets like Master Cleanse (which involve extreme calorie restriction or striking entire food groups from a person’s diet,)  well-conditioned, in-shape people eat.  And they actually eat a lot.

The difference between fit eaters and fat eaters, is that highly fit people eat differently — they tend to eat more whole, unprocessed foods; have higher lean protein intake; consume the bulk of their carbohydrates in the form of complex carbs like whole grains, vegetables and whole fruit; and avoid the “fat free food” trap.  They also tend to eat more frequently (as many as six to seven meals a day), but make those meals smaller. 

The result is that they have more stable blood sugar, more consistent energy levels, and are less prone to gaining body fat because they rarely eat more calories in any given meal than their body can utilize.



Healthy Habit #2: They Move

People who seem to be perpetually in good shape not only eat frequently, but they move a lot. This seems elementary, but in a sedentary society, we are moving less than ever before.

Highly fit people don’t shy away from physical activity in their daily lives, whether that is walking when they could have drove or taking the stairs when the elevator would have been more convenient. If we walked more, and drove less, we wouldn’t have to spend as much time on the treadmill at the gym.  Yet our daily lives are often arranged in such a way to discourage physical activity.

Highly fit people consciously go out of their way to find opportunities to move. Whether that is parking a greater distance away from the shopping mall, taking the stairs at work, or even picking up their pace when walking from meeting-to-meeting, you’ll always notice that fit people seem to be on the move.

They also find ways to get exercise that doesn’t always require spending time at the gym. Whether that’s recreational sports, walking the dog, swimming, running, yoga, pilates or even stretching at their desks, they understand that staying in-shape is a lifestyle, not just a “kick” you go on.

Healthy Habit #3: They Make the Time for Exercise

“I don’t have time for exercise” isn’t something you’ll hear from a highly fit person. Everyone is busy and everyone has career, family and community obligations. But highly fit people make time for exercise.

Indeed, they often hold their exercise time sacred and will always figure out a way to meet their other commitments, while still meeting their health, diet and fitness needs. The truth is that most people have far more time available in their day then they think. They spend time watching tv, playing video games, surfing the Internet, going to the movies or even sleeping an extra hour or two. 

Exercise doesn’t require that much time. In general, less than 60 minutes a day. Most people easily have that time available to them, they just choose to use it differently. Highly fit people, on the other hand, make exercise a priority. They make a choice to watch an hour less of TV in the evening in order to take care of their body and health. And with all of the studies that show the tremendous benefits to regular exercise, it’s clear that more people should follow their lead and make it a priority as well.

Healthy Habit #4: They Drink Water

Highly fit people understand the benefits of water. When you see them, whether its at the gym, at home or in the office, a bottle of water will often be close at hand.  Study-after-study has shown that proper hydration isn’t just important to athletes and runners, but everyone. Water can blunt fatigue, improve concentration and thought clarity, discourage the formation of kidney stones, improve digestion and improve performance in the gym.  Highly fit people drink a lot of water … and they are healthier for it.

Here’s the really good news: fit people don’t just drink tap or bottled water, they also consume plenty of green and black tea.  Recent research has actually indicated that consuming tea not only counts toward your daily hydration requirements, but may actually be more healthy overall than plain water.

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Healthy Habit #5: They Don’t Diet!

This is related to Habit #1. Highly fit people don’t “go on diets” — they are on a diet every day.

That doesn’t necessarily mean they are restricting calories every day. It means that they understand that long term health and fitness requires consistently eating smart. And smart eating for a highly fit person is just part of their every day routine. 

You can often spot a highly-fit person because they don’t skip breakfast, they will often bring their own lunch to work and they seem to always be snacking on healthy foods like apples, vegetables and nuts. It’s also rare to see them eating fast food or drinking soda — arguably to of the worst types of foods a person can consume and a leading cause of obesity according to a 2006 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The one exception to this rule is competitive male and female bodybuilding. Competitive bodybuilders will often diet (drastically, some times)  leading up to a competition in order to drive their body fat down to very low levels (for men the low-single digits and for women, the mid-teens.)  It’s very difficult for any person, no matter how well-conditioned they are, to maintain these extremely low, competition-grade body fat levels for any significant amount of time.  Still, even most competitive bodybuilders will admit that if it weren’t for their sport, they would never utilize these diet tactics.

Healthy Habit #6: They Have Goals

Highly fit, in-shape people always have a goal. After all, you can’t improve something unless you know what you are trying to improve it to. Those goals can be small and incremental, or large and ambitious. In either case, they act with a sense of purpose when it comes to their health and physical fitness. 

Whether that goal is to maintain their current physique, improve it, reduce body fat, gain additional muscle, increase their endurance or stamina, become more flexible,  improve their coordination,  or develop a better golf swing, they will always have a goal that they are shooting for. 

If you ask a fit person what they are currently working on, they will always be able to tell you their goal. And if you observe them exercising, you’ll be able to sense that they have purpose. They rarely sit still between sets, they minimize socialization in the gym during their workout, and again, they always seem to be on the move and “in the zone.” In other words, they won’t just be going through the motions, they’ll be striving for something.

Healthy Habit # 7: The Record Their Progress

Healthy, highly-fit people keep track of their exercise so they can determine whether they are actually making progress toward their goal.  You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Most highly-fit people keep an exercise log of some sort or another. It may simply be a notebook where they write down each exercise, the weight and completed reps. Or it may be more formal, for example a store-bought exercise and fitness log  or a sheet provided by their gym.  There are even programs available for cell phones or PDAs that can help track progress.

One of the first pieces of advice I give someone who feels like they aren’t making progress with their workout routine or diet is to start an exercise and food log. Often, people aren’t working as hard as they think at the gym or they’re eating more calories than they originally estimated. By keeping track of the details of your diet and workout regimen, you can have better visibility into potential stumbling-points and improve them.

Fitness-conscious people understand this, since meeting their goals means understanding that progress from the little improvements you make each workout. Unless you are tracking those improvements, you’ll find yourself stalled and frustrated.

The Takeaway: Make These Habits Your Own 

Remember, you don’t have to be an athlete, competitive bodybuilder, aerobics instructor or fitness model to take advantage of these seven healthy habits. Regardless of your level, experience or personal health and diet goals,  you can can live a healthier and happier life by adopting some of the same habits as highly-fit people.

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Category: Fitness Tips & Guides

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Comments (7)

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  1. Burn Fat Fast (2 comments) says:

    Habit number three is the most important in my opinion.  I cant count the number of times I said "I just dont have time" or "I’m too wiped out, I’ll do it tomorrow".  There never really is a right time, you just have to do it.

  2. Matt (194 comments) says:

    Burn Fat … I’d agree. If you don’t make time, you won’t make progress. Also, the more times you procrastinate, the more bad habits you build up. Even if it’s a half-assed workout, it’s better than no workout at all.

  3. Diet Reviews (1 comments) says:

    That’s a good point about eating, we starve ourselves on diets but all good athletes eat MORE rather than less. Eating the right foods is the trick.

  4. Mary (4 comments) says:

    I see that this was posted a while back, but thank you posting! I totally agree with every one of your tips, Matt.  I think the idea of moving consistantly for someone new to the “fit” lifestyle can be overwhelming. But a quick 15 min in the morning, 15 min walk at lunch, 15 at dinner, etc can add up to a lot of distance and burned calories very quickly! Thanks again Matt

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