Skip to content

8 healthy habits to start in your 20s

The 40-something version of yourself will thank you later

A young man holding a spoon for his girlfriend to try the food they have prepared together
A young man holding a spoon for his girlfriend to try the food they have prepared together

If you consider mi goreng a food group, can stay out until 3am and wake up hangover-free and find yourself with serious FOMO every time you scroll through the ‘gram, then chances are you’re in your 20s.

And while deep down you might know that you should be sleeping more, drinking less and eating food with ingredients you can pronounce, your health might not be top of mind every day. I mean, you’re young and healthy, right?

The truth is, what happens to your body later on in your life is dependent on your lifestyle during these formative years. They say that youth is wasted on the young, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Here are eight tips that will set you up for a long and healthy future. Trust us, the 40-something version of yourself will thank you later.

1. Get into the kitchen

Put simply, healthy eating involves eating more fibre, fruit and veggies and less unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. Meals that you prepare for yourself using fresh ingredients are best, but if you do buy packaged foods make sure you check the ingredients. To help, we’ve put together a simple guide to help you understand some of the trickier terms on nutrition labels.

Looking to improve your diet? Have no money for fancy ingredients and no time to cook? nib foundation partner No Money No Time has you covered. Take the Healthy Eating Quiz today to see where you can improve your diet and unlock access to personalised recipes from leading Nutrition and Dietetics experts – all without paying a cent!

A young man holding a spoon for his girlfriend to try the food they have prepared together

2. Move your body

Struggling to find the time to exercise? You don’t have to go on a 10km run or complete back-to-back gym classes to get fit. All you need to do is aim to complete some form of physical activity every day, whether that be a walk with friends, a quick circuit at the gym, a yoga class or choosing to take the stairs instead of the lift at work. A variety of activities and exercise intensities is best.

If you’re time-poor, choose vigorous intensity activities (ones that make you ‘huff and puff’) rather than moderate intensity activities (which take some effort but you can still talk during the activity). This way you can reduce the time you need to exercise to get the same health benefits. Cassey Maynard’s super speedy 10-minute workout is the perfect combination of strength and cardio.

Also try to limit the amount of time you spend seated. If you spend a lot of time at your desk, in the car or on the couch, set regular reminders to get up and move around.

3. Stress less

Maybe you’ve started a new job. Maybe you have a big event coming up. Maybe you’ve just got a lot on your plate. Whatever the reason, we all feel overwhelmed from time to time. Your 20s can be a challenging time with a lot of conflicting priorities, so taking time for yourself is important, and practising mindfulness can help you stay calm, sharp and focussed.

Keen to learn the art of mindfulness? nib foundation partner, Smiling Mind offers a free, easy-to-use app that provides mindfulness meditation training programs that you can do anywhere, anytime.

4. Sweet dreams

It’s not uncommon for sleep to take a back seat to social, work and study commitments during your 20s. But getting enough sleep is important for your mental and physical wellbeing. Try to keep to a regular sleep schedule, avoid excess alcohol (especially before bedtime) and limit caffeinated drinks after lunch to get a good night’s sleep.

5. Practise safe sex

It might not be the sexiest topic to discuss, but many effective types of contraception don’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections, so always use condoms when sleeping with a new partner. On the other end of the scale, if you’re considering starting a family, see your GP with your partner to get advice on how to prepare for the next stage of your life.

Do you need a prescription for the contraceptive pill? Or, are you keen to get sexual health advice from a doctor without leaving home? We've partnered with to help provide you with online, confidential, text-based consultations for prescriptions delivered straight to your door. Some of the common treatments include hair loss, premature ejaculation, contraceptive pill and herpes.

6. Ditch drugs

We’ll keep this short and sharp. It’s no secret that taking illicit drugs and misusing medicines or other substances puts your health at risk. The only truly safe option is to choose not to take anything that’s illegal or not prescribed for you.

7. Rethink that drink

When it comes to alcohol, it’s okay to enjoy a drink or two occasionally – just don’t overdo it. Avoid binge drinking (which is having more than four standard drinks on any one occasion) and limit yourself to two drinks on any day to reduce your risk of alcohol-related illness and injury.

8. Vaccinate

This one is pretty simple – to avoid getting the flu, make sure you have an annual flu shot. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in their 20s are eligible for free flu vaccinations, as are people with certain pre-existing health conditions.

Related: Everything you need to know about the flu

Is it time for a health cover check-up?

At nib, we’re committed to keeping you at your healthiest, which is why we’ve put together a list of health checks that are important for people in their 20s.

Everyone’s health cover needs are different. To help you understand what level of cover is best suited to you, get in touch with our cover experts today to learn more about what people like you are commonly claiming on and what cover would be the best fit.

Articles you might also like