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For better or worse, we all have funny, quirky habits that shape our everyday lives. Have you ever thought about how your habits shape your health? Building healthy habits is a key component to living a happy, healthy lifestyle. From oral hygiene to sleeping patterns and food consumption throughout the day, our daily activities have a significant impact on our health and wellbeing. We turned to our medical experts to learn more about habits–how they are formed, how to kick the ones we don’t particularly like, and which ones are the best to adopt.

When do kids start forming good habits?
Very early. Learned behaviors start at 6 months; you can teach a lot by a year. At 15-16 months, a toddler will “do what you do, not do what you say,” so model what you expect of him/her. At 18 months (developmental age) a child can understand “time-out”. “Little People” by Dr.Ed Christopherson is a good book. Keep your rules short and focused on what you want, e.g., “Feet go on the floor” not “Don’t stand up in that chair.”

- Dr. Johanna Fricke

How can I break my unhealthy habits?
Change is possible. If one’s habits are unhealthy, replace the “unhealthy” habit with a “healthy” habit. Closely watch your behavior and reward yourself when you successfully demonstrate the healthy behavior. If you make a mistake and see the unhealthy behavior, ignore it and move on. Do not reward the unhealthy behavior by making a big deal over it. Good luck – change is possible.

- Dr. Robert L. Woods

How many days does it take to change a habit?
Any habit change generally takes about 6 weeks to really set-in. Give yourself a set goal everyday (write it down) and stick to it. After you hit 6 weeks, you’ll likely be settled into your new (healthy) habit!

- Dr. Ahmad M Hadied

Would forming a habit of stretching every morning to start the day be beneficial for my wellbeing?
Yes. Particularly if you can use the time to focus and center yourself for your day / meditate / etc. Movement fosters movement, and it will aid in flexibilty retention. Just try to find time for some form of cardio and strength training–at least for maintenance.

- Dr. Don Alves

Can it become a habit if you smile frequently? Is that a good thing?
Yes & Yes. Practicing happy behaviors can actually lead to a healthier mind set. Smiling can be contagious. As others interact with us in a positive manner it enriches our life.

- Dr. Heidi A. Fowler

We recently made it even easier for you to make health more of a habit with TipTaps: 100-character, doctor-created health tips on over 50 different topics. Subscribe today and let our Medical Experts inspire you to form the habits that make you feel great!

 

HealthTap: Concierge Medicine for Everyone TM