Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Improving your health doesn’t require training for a marathon or committing to a strict paleo-vegan diet. You can make significant strides from small, everyday changes.
What minor adjustments could you make to your routine to reduce your chances of acute and chronic disease and improve your energy levels? Here are eight thoughtful ways to be healthier every day.
1. Elevate Your Snacking
Everything you put in your body impacts your overall health, including the food you eat. If you turn to salty chips at 3 p.m. every day, your acrylamide consumption might increase your cancer risk. Why take the chance when there are natural, less-processed alternatives that will boost your overall health?
For example, nuts and seeds contain high levels of minerals like zinc, magnesium and selenium, all vital for mental health and neurological processing. These snacks are a boon in winter when seasonal depression rears its ugly head. Pecans are higher in antioxidants than any other nut — that pie you make for holiday dessert could slow aging and prevent cancer.
2. Pick a Flour Substitute
You probably turn to all-purpose flour for baking, but doing so could harm you and your family’s health. Why? The manufacturing process creates a chemical byproduct called alloxan that induces diabetes in laboratory animals. When you combine that chemical with the blood sugar spikes that come from eating foods laden with this substance, you have the perfect recipe for the Type 2 form of the disease.
Fortunately, there’s a world of healthy alternatives out there. Go keto with almond flour or embrace more plant-based protein with chickpea. Those with gluten intolerance may find solace in ancient grains like quinoa and amaranth, both free of the offending wheat protein. Coconut and tapioca flour is lightly sweet, perfect for holiday treats.
3. Take an Active Break
Does your work break consist of scrolling social media or, worse, the smoker’s bench? Why not make it active instead?
You can find tons of fitness apps, many of which offer workouts as short as five minutes, letting you squeeze in a bit of exercise when you take ten. Many YouTube channels likewise offer workouts that you can squeeze in on your break, all for free. The blood flow boost to your brain could make you more productive when you return to your desk.
Maybe your best active break consists of cranking the tunes and cutting loose. For best results, try following a fun Zumba or other dance workout routine. It could help you fight dementia.
Researchers investigated various activities on cognitive function. Dance came out the clear winner, perhaps because physical activity combined with following the steps improves neuroplasticity.
If you don’t keep a journal, why are you still waiting? You don’t even have to invest anything in a pretty pad and pen set anymore — unless doing so inspires you to keep up the habit. However, digital-minded folks can find free journal and diary app downloads that let you pen your thoughts on your smartphone, protecting them with a secret code.
You don’t necessarily need to put your thoughts on paper. A daily meditation practice can help you stay centered in a chaotic world. Start by sitting quietly and mindfully for two to three minutes, expanding your practice as you grow.
6. Change Up Your Commute
Variety is the spice of life, but many do the same old, same old, day after day. Minor changes engage your brain and make you think differently — perhaps even pushing you through a mental block. All you need to do is take a new route to work in the morning.
Are you trying to increase your exercise quotient while decreasing your carbon footprint? An electric bike may be the single best investment you can make. You can use it to commute to the office without getting sweaty — just turn on pedal-assist for help getting up the steepest hills. You can even find pint-sized versions for kids, giving you the option of spending more time with them as you pedal to school together each morning.
7. Play With Your Kids
Part of the joy of having children means feeling free to zip down the sliding board again without feeling a bit embarrassed. You’ll benefit your health and theirs by taking them to the park — and get a bonus in terms of smiles.
If it’s too blustery to enjoy the outdoors, get creative at home. Most kids were born with an innate talent for building forts and obstacle courses with household items — help them out and get in on the fun. You’ll use muscles you forgot you had as you slither under tables and scramble over chairs.
8. Go to Bed at a Reasonable Hour
Sleep is essential to many bodily functions — like your immunity. Decrease your chances of tossing and turning by setting a routine bedtime and sticking to it. Doing so helps train your circadian rhythms so that it’s not as hard to fall under when you hit the pillow.
Take measures like removing electronic devices from your bedroom and replacing your glowing digital alarm clock with a wind-up model that won’t serve as a neon 3 a.m. guilt trip. Get as cozy as possible, piling your bed high with pillows that hug every sore spot, particularly if you have chronic health conditions that sometimes make it challenging to get comfortable.
Thoughtful (and Easy) Ways to Be Healthier Every Day
You don’t have to exert herculean efforts to improve your overall well-being. Try these eight thoughtful and easy ways to be healthier every day.
About the author:
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine. Mom, stepmom, and wife – Kara wants to normalize big blended families. She enjoys pilates, peanut butter, and pinot grigio – but not at the same time.