6 small changes that yield big benefits
For many of us, the start of a new year signals resolutions centered around health. And people often get hung up, thinking they need to make big changes to achieve their health goals. But research shows that people who take steps to implement small changes are actually much more likely to adopt healthy habits and enjoy positive outcomes.
We share examples of simple things you can start doing today to positively impact your health and well-being.
6 simple tips for better health
- Walk after you eat – You probably know that walking is good for you. But taking a walk after a meal is especially beneficial as walking has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels that naturally spike when our body digests food. Why does this matter? Elevated blood sugar is linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes which affects roughly 35 million people in the U.S. Plus breathing in fresh air and soaking up sunshine and vitamin D strengthens your immune system and helps you fight off all those respiratory viruses that like to circulate in the winter.
- Lift weights – You’ve likely heard the phrase, use it or lose it. And this is definitely true when it comes to your muscles. Lifting two to five pound weights consistently can do wonders when it comes to building and maintaining lean muscle. Not a fan of weights? Opt for exercises where you support your own body weight (think planks and squats) or invest in a few inexpensive and easy-to-use resistance bands.
- Stretch daily – In addition to exercises that strengthen, you also need to focus on those that help lengthen muscles and this is where good ol stretches come in. Taking 5 to 10 minutes each day to stretch your hamstrings, quads, biceps, triceps and the muscles in your back will help keep them supple and flexible. Why is this important? When muscles are too tight, you’re more likely to suffer pulled muscles and joint injuries.
- Eat a rainbow – Rainbows are beautiful and magical. And it turns out they also provide a good roadmap to follow when it comes to your diet. Healthy and whole foods like fruits and veggies are packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that give them lots of flavor and color. To ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need, make a game out of eating and see how many colors you can pack into your daily diet.
- Breathe like a baby – Have you ever noticed how a sleeping baby breathes? Their belly naturally and effortlessly rises and falls. But as we age, our breathing becomes shallower and we tend to breathe from our chest, not our belly. But diaphragmatic or belly breathing has many health benefits including reducing blood pressure, increasing oxygen flow and helping you feel more relaxed. Try one minute of belly breathing today and see how you feel.
- Unplug more – From computers and mobile phones to TVs and tablets, if you’re like most people, you probably spend hours staring at screens every day. And all that screen time has been linked to adverse health issues like weight gain, eye strain and sleep problems. Make a point to carve out some screen-free time and activities each day. Curl up with a good book, play a board game with your kids, meet a friend for coffee or just do nothing – trust us, it’ll feel good.
Making the shift
When it comes to how you eat, move, breathe and live – small actions add up and lead to big changes. Shifting your mindset to focus more on how you feel, can help you figure out what makes your body happy. By listening to your body, you can develop habits that become part of a healthy lifestyle and promote long-term happiness and well-being.
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