Depending on what sources you read, experts say it takes anywhere between 28 days to three months to form a new habit. This can seem daunting, but there are things you can do to help create and maintain healthy habits.

Researchers of KIT, Technische Universität München, and the universities of Konstanz and Bayreuth found that how the new habit was initiated was one of the keys to longevity.

These researchers conducted a survey of 500 adults initially and then surveyed them again 18 years later. “The results of our study reveal how important it is to acquire health-promoting habits at early adult age already. This should also be in the focus of prevention measures,” Professor Alexander Woll, Head of the KIT Institute of Sports and Sport Science, explains.

The study looked at surveys filled out by participants and also controlled for socioeconomic impacts, initial habits (such as alcohol and nicotine consumption), understanding of the importance of good nutrition and physical activity, and stress management. Researchers found that of all of the factors that might influence a person’s health, the initial understanding of good nutrition and physical activity and a good stress management plan were the most effective ways to predict a person’s health.

This is good news for people who start out with healthy habits, but what about people trying to make positive changes to create better health?

Researchers Dr Cheryl Travers, Dr Ray Randall and Dr Harry Hogarth from Loughborough University asked 60 students to fill out questionnaires about their health goals and habits, and to keep a journal following and recording their progress (or setbacks).

What researchers found was that the students who reflected on their goals to see which worked and which didn’t, and then enlisted the help or experts or family and friends to keep them motivated, were more likely to create (and maintain) healthy habits. Another factor that contributed to the success of the students was setting mini goals along the way.

It is never too late to create a new healthy habit; what will you start with?

Image by Army Medicine via Flickr 

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