We all want to live healthier lives, but it can be difficult to figure out what to do when. Most of us have little extra time to spend on making homemade meals or adding in another exercise workout. Although we try to make healthy choices, we can get discouraged when we don’t see or feel immediate results.
If you’d like to get healthy but have struggled to fit any extra activities into your schedule, this post is for you. We’ve got 15 easy steps you can take right now — no extra effort required — that can make a big difference in how you feel every day.
1. Drink More Water
Even slight dehydration can make you feel tired and ruin your focus. Keep a glass of water handy and sip throughout the day to stay hydrated. You’ll feel more energy and your skin will thank you too.
You’ll make an even bigger difference in your health if you can replace one of your sugar-sweetened beverages with water instead. Add some cut-up fruit if you want a little flavor.
2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Research shows that people who eat the most servings of fruits and vegetables per day tend to be healthier and live longer than those who eat the least. There are endless easy ways to get more in your daily diet. Some good options:
- Add some cut-up fruit to your breakfast each morning
- Snack on cut-up veggies and dip
- Choose salad more often
- Add cut-up veggies to your casseroles and pasta
- Buy frozen veggies and pop them in the microwave for dinner
- Layer tomatoes and lettuce on your sandwiches
- Add veggies to your smoothies
3. Use Smaller Dishes
In one study, scientists discovered that people who ate from large serving bowls ate 56 percent (142 calories) more than those who ate from smaller bowls. In a separate analysis of 72 studies, results were similar — those who ate from larger plates consistently ate more food.
Eating from a smaller plate or bowl helps trick your brain into believing you’ve gotten enough, even when you eat less. Invest in a set of smaller dishes and use them regularly.
4. Go to Bed 10 Minutes Earlier
Sleep deprivation is considered a public health epidemic today. Too many people aren’t getting the recommended seven to eight hours per night, putting them at increased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even early mortality.
You probably have little control over when you have to get up in the morning, but you can probably control when you go to bed at night. If you’re not getting enough sleep, try going to bed just 10 minutes earlier. Once you’ve done that for a week or so, try moving it back again in 10-minute increments until you’re getting the seven to eight hours you need.
Once you’ve set a time that works for you, stick with it. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day — even on weekends — is the best way to train your body to sleep as it should.
5. Find a Workout Partner
Studies show that when we work out with a partner, we burn more calories. There’s something about having someone else there — either as a cheerleader or source of competition — that compels us to work a little bit harder. This is great for your health. A workout partner can also make sure you stick with your exercise plans rather than blowing them off.
6. Watch a Cat Video
Laughter is the best medicine, as they say, and if cat videos don’t do the trick for you, try something else. All that matters is you enjoy a good belly laugh for a few minutes. Studies say when you laugh, you reduce stress, relax your muscles, boost the immune system, relieve pain and improve your mood.
7. Choose the Fish
Eating more fish is an easy way to boost your health. Fatty fish like salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids that help lower risk of heart disease and chronic inflammation, while also boosting mental health and energy.
Aim to eat at least two servings of fatty fish per week. In addition to salmon, other good options include herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, oysters, rainbow trout and albacore tuna.
8. Move More
Movement is medicine for the body, but that doesn’t mean you have to add in another hour for a separate workout. Fit more movement into your daily life. Keep a jump rope by your desk and use it for 3 minutes once an hour or pause and do 25 jumping jacks. Take the stairs to the upper levels, walk around the block at lunch or drop and do 20 push-ups.
Research published in JAMA Network Open showed that small daily movements made a big impact. Those who got the lightest activity in this way were found to have up to a 42 percent lower risk of dying from coronary problems, such as heart attacks, and a 22 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t.
Types of light activity that qualified in the study included:
- Walking around
- Getting dressed
- Pruning the garden
- Doing dishes
Every one hour of extra light movement per day corresponded to a 14 percent drop in coronary heart disease risk and an 8 percent drop in cardiovascular disease risk.
9. Keep the Phone, TV, Tablet, and Laptop Out of the Bedroom
All of these gadgets can emit blue light, which disturbs sleep hormones and will reduce sleep quality. Studies have shown that having the phone in the room causes your brain to think about whatever messages you may be receiving, distracting you and keeping you up.
According to research published in Computers in Human Behavior, participants who kept their smartphones out of the bedroom for a week improved their mental well-being and also experienced better quality sleep. Another study found that couples who took their cellphones to bed suffered from relationship problems and disconnection.
10. Drink Green Tea
If you’re looking for a beverage with more than its share of health benefits, green tea is it. It’s low in calories and high in antioxidants known to help fight disease and aging. Those who drink the greenest tea tend to live longer, have a lower risk of heart disease and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
11. Wear an Activity Tracker
It’s one thing to “think” you’re moving more throughout your day. It’s another to have real feedback about it, which is what an activity tracker can do for you.
There are many from which to choose. You can go full-out fancy with a smartwatch that does everything but clean the dishes, or you can opt for a simple, low-cost pedometer. Either way, studies show that people who wear any sort of device that tracks the number of steps they take each day tend to move more than those who don’t.
12. Know Your Numbers
Blood pressure. Cholesterol. Triglycerides. Blood sugar. These are numbers you should know. If any or all of these are higher than normal, that means your health is at risk. The good news is that modern-day medications and lifestyle changes can restore normal levels, protecting you from diseases that can reduce your quality of life drastically and perhaps shorten your life as well.
You can learn your levels with a simple blood test. Get one on an annual basis and discuss the results with your doctor.
13. Get Outside
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that the average American spends about 90 percent of their time indoors — either inside or in an automobile. Yet spending time outside is considered much healthier.
Take 15 minutes and go outside. That’s all it takes to boost your health. If you can spend that time in a park, garden or other green space, so much the better. Research shows that the more we can expose ourselves to nature, the better off we are. Green spaces, in particular, help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stress, high blood pressure, and premature death.
14. Eat Fewer Foods in Boxes and Bags
Highly processed foods tend to be higher in sugar, fat, sodium, calories and chemical preservatives and lower in nutrients than whole foods or lightly processed foods. Recent research shows that people who eat a lot of ultra-processed foods are more likely to develop heart disease and to die sooner than those who stick with foods closer to their original form.
In one study, those who ate more than four daily servings of ultra-processed foods had a 62 percent higher risk of premature death compared to eating little or none of these foods.
Examples of unprocessed or lightly processed foods include:
- Fresh foods from the produce section
- Eggs, milk, cheese, and other minimally processed dairy products
- Herbs and spices
- Frozen fruits and vegetables with no added ingredients or sauces
- Canned foods with few other added ingredients
- Plain oatmeal or bran cereal
- Roasted or baked meats
- Whole-grain crackers
Examples of highly processed foods include:
- Soft drinks and energy drinks
- Chips and other bagged snacks
- Artificially flavored crackers
- Chicken nuggets
- Hot dogs
- Frozen pizza
- TV dinners
- Sweetened breakfast cereals
- Fried chicken
15. Make a Daily Gratitude List
Positive emotions are connected to good health and remembering what you’re grateful for can help produce positive emotions.
Research shows that negative thinking can increase the risk of health problems like weight gain, depression, and heart disease, whereas positive thinking does the opposite — it reduces stress, improves sleep and reduces the risk of heart disease.
If you’re going through a stressful period and finding it difficult to stay positive, keeping a daily gratitude journal can help. Feeling grateful for the roof over your head or the food in your belly can be enough to improve your emotions and your health.
In one study, for example, researchers found that those participants who wrote daily about things they were grateful for were more optimistic after 10 weeks and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those who didn’t write daily gratitude lists.
Learn more about boosting your immunity and getting healthy with our 14-Day Immune Health Quick Start Program.