How to become healthier in a few simple steps
Yes, yes, you already know that you should quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol, stop eating sweets and that you should lose those extra 20 pounds… Although many of those things are probably true for most of us, they are just too much to handle, and certainly impossible to do in a single day.
In this article we will focus on those other, smaller things, quick-fixes that are not too hard to do, and yet, when repeated daily, can have tremendous health benefits. Pick one or two tips from the list, and make them a habit. After a couple of weeks or months, add more. Step by step, you will start believing in yourself again, knowing that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. And who knows, you might eventually quit smoking. But one baby step at a time, here are five things you can do for your health, today.
Take a walk
Yes, gyms are fantastic, pilates will really get your blood flowing, but in this article, we are about starting small. Just take a walk.
In fact, if it is too much of a hassle to do separately, get out of the bus one station early, and walk to your office. After your workday is over, do the same, but this time take off one station before your home.
If you have a dog, don’t just take him for a quick 2-minute toilette break, walk him around your whole block, for 30 minutes, your best friend will be so grateful to you. Walk daily, and after a couple of weeks, increase your distance to two bus stations.
Or, if you think that you are ready, sign up for a gym membership! That way you won’t have “it’s gonna rain, I better stay home” excuse. Get yourself some squat proof leggings, hit those weights and get on that treadmill!
Get more H2O
Again, we all know how important water is. After all, our body is made of 60% water, and not drinking enough of it has an adverse effect throughout our whole organism. Still, we live busy lives, and it so easy to forget to drink enough water.
For that reason, you should keep a water bottle next to your bed. As soon as you wake up, rehydrate. Because you haven’t drunk anything for 8 hours during sleep, your body is quite dehydrated, and drinking water as soon as you get up will instantly make you feel a lot better. Your heart and blood vessels will thank you too, because water is a natural blood thinner, and drinking it as soon as you get up can reduce stroke risks.
Of course, drinking water only in the morning is not nearly enough, but it is an excellent place to start. If you live a too busy life, it is a good idea to set a timer on your phone – when it sounds, you need to get off your table and pour yourself a glass of H20. That way, you will kill two birds with one stone – you will intake some much-needed water, and you will get up from your desk, which is our next point on the list.
Take breaks from sitting
Most likely, as you read this article, you either sit hunched over your phone or at your desk, next to your computer, procrastinating on work. Then, when you get home, you turn on your TV, and watch your favorite show, again, sitting in that comfy armchair. Then, if you do decide to go out and meet a friend, you either go to movies, or to a cafe, where you also sit. Our bodies are not built for all that non-stop sitting, they are made for movement.
Sooner rather than later, you will start experiencing aches all across your body, if you sit too much. Neck, lower back, legs will start hurting. Also, sitting with a bad posture restricts lung capacity, which decreases the amount of oxygen our body gets, and your cognitive performance will start suffering.
The solution for all those problems is simple – take short, but frequent breaks from sitting.
It is a good idea to implement Pomodoro in your workflow. You set a timer to 25 minutes. Once it rings, you take a 5-minute break. After four cycles, you make a longer break, for about 15-20 minutes.
Use those breaks actively – get up from your desk, stretch a bit, pour yourself a glass of water. Use that more extended break to take a walk around the building, stretch or meditate.
That way, you will not only counter the negative effects of sitting, but you will also prevent overburn, and increase your productivity. Both your body and your boss will be much happier.
Sitting, especially with bad posture, shortens muscles, pecs, hip flexors and hamstrings in particular. For that reason, it is essential to take breaks from sitting, but also stretch these muscle groups. For your hams, a simple standing stretch will do. As for your chest, all you need is a doorframe, and you are good. Stretching your hips is a bit more challenging, and we recommend a yoga classic – pigeon pose. It might seem intimidating, but you will get the hang of it in no time at all.
You can perform these movements basically anywhere, as they require no equipment, which makes them perfect for that longer Pomodoro break we mentioned above.
Sleep one hour more
It is so wrong to treat sleep as time wasting. A Japanese saying goes: “If you want happiness for an hour – take a nap…” So simple, yet very true.
The best idea is to add one more hour to your night’s sleep, especially if you are not already getting the well-known and recommended 8 hours per night. Being sleep deprived has a negative influence all across our bodies, and trying to meet the needed eight hours will help every aspect of your life.
But even if it’s impossible for you to sleep eight hours straight, even an afternoon nap will help, it all adds up. And it will certainly make you happier! We advise you to check out the article we’ve done on sleeping tips, maybe you will find something that you can implement into your routine.
As you can see, most of the things we mentioned are easy to do – sleep one hour more, drink water as soon as you get up, get off the bus one station early, take breaks from sitting, and stretch every now and then. Nothing too radical, and most of these things won’t even break you a drop of sweat.
First, pick one – we suggest drinking water in the morning as it is the easiest to follow. Stick to it for some time, and after a while, add something equally simple, like setting up a Pomodoro timer, and standing up from your desk. Sooner rather than later, these simple habits will grow into something bigger, and you will find yourself on the road to long-term health. Ditching cigarettes or those 20 extra pounds will no longer seem impossible. Just stay persistent, one small habit at a time.