Summary of Healthy Lifestyle Recommendations

The fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle are quite simple: you should aim for a triangle of adequate physical activity, sleep, and healthy nutrition. The recommendations of leading global authorities like WHO and local authorities like the Finnish ones (UKK Institute, Finnish Food Authority, and Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare) can be summarised as follows:

Physical activity (adults aged 18-64):

  • Endurance: At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity in a week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity in a week, or an equivalent combination of both.
  • Strength, coordination, and mobility: Muscle-strengthening activities involving major muscle groups at least twice a week.
  • Sedentary time: Avoid long periods of sitting still in your everyday life, take active breaks frequently.

Healthy diet (adults):

  • The exact make-up of a healthy diet varies depending on individual characteristics (e.g. age, gender, lifestyle and degree of physical activity), cultural context, locally available foods and dietary customs. However, the basic principles of a healthy diet remain the same globally.
  • Keep a stable and frequent meal rhythm: eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day, as well as 1-2 healthy snacks in between. A stable meal rhythm keeps blood glucose levels stable, restrains the feeling of hunger (and thus keeps meal sizes and unhealthy cravings in control), helps weight control, and protects your teeth.
  • Prioritise vegetables, fruit, legumes (e.g. lentils and beans), nuts, and whole grains
  • Eat at least 500 grams (i.e. five portions) of vegetables and fruit per day
  • Different types of fish are recommended 2-3 times a week
  • Nuts and seeds are good sources of unsaturated fat
  • Full grains contain a lot of fibre and are more dense on nutrients than more processed alternatives
  • You should not have more than 500 grams of processed meat and red meat combined in a week
  • Drink mostly water, enough to quench your thirst. A total of 1-1,5 litres of water (6-8 glasses) in a day is recommended.

Sleep (adults):

  • 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Most important factor behind good quality of sleep: consistent rhythm (bedtime & wake up time)
  • The best sign of adequate sleep is simply that you feel fresh and rested when waking up

To learn more, please visit the websites of WHO or your local authorities:

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