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100 Small Changes You Can Make To Improve Your Health

100 Small Changes You Can Make To Improve Your Health

Not every change you make to live a healthier lifestyle has to be drastic. Many people go balls to the wall and cut out all their carbs or go from never running to training for a marathon.

The problem? Most realize how difficult such a drastic change can be and bail on their goal.

It’s better to take baby steps on your quest to build a healthier, stronger version of yourself. Pick one or two of the changes below and focus on those. Once you’re comfortable with the changes you made, pick up a few more.

1. Cut out soda.

2. Cut out juices.

3. Drink more water (8 8-oz cups per day).

4. Walk to work if distance permits.

5. Get a gym membership.

6. Come up with a workout plan that involves hitting the gym at least 3x a week.

7. Buy fruit instead of cookies and donuts.

8. Eat more vegetables. The fiber and nutrients will keep you full and prevent overeating.

9. Consume 25g fiber per day if you are female, 38g for males.

10. Drink less coffee so that you do not rely on caffeine.

11. Get 8-10 hours of sleep.

12. Go on a run at least once a week.

13. Read a blog on bettering your health and/or fitness at least once a week.

14. Plan your meals ahead of time so that you don’t give in to cravings when come meal time.

15. Purge your pantry of all junk (and no, not by eating it).

16. Try cooking healthy recipe instead of eating out.

17. Talk to someone new at the gym every week. Making friends will make you enjoy your time there and want to return.

18. Buy egg whites instead of only whole eggs.

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19. Try turkey bacon instead of pork bacon (I eat both depending on the occasion).

20. Keep an exercise log so you can see that you are making progress.

21. Invest in healthier snack foods such as nuts, fruit, snap peas, baby carrots, etc.

22. Set a goal and don’t stop until it’s achieved.

23. Set baby goals with corresponding rewards to encourage you along the way.

24. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether that be talking to a fit friend or hiring a fitness professional.

25. Understand your body. Figure out the number of calories you can consume daily to maintain, gain, or lose weight.

26. Avoid drinking to get drunk except on special occasions (it really shouldn’t be an end-of-the-week habit).

27. That said, restrict yourself to 1-2 alcoholic beverages when you do drink casually.

28. Increase your protein intake. It will keep you full and promote recovery from exercise.

29. Take a multivitamin. Most of us do not get the essential micronutrients we need day to day.

30. Take a fish oil supplement. Omega-3’s are essential for a strong heart.

31. Go on walks after eating large meals.

32. Wake up an hour earlier (given you slept enough hours) and get moving. You’ll be more productive if you start the day off with a little exercise.

33. Avoid movie theatre popcorn if you can. That stuff is dangerous. A large bucket can contain over 1000 calories easily.

34. Find and start a fitness program.

35. If you smoke, stop.

36. Pick up a sport you want to try.

37. Re-pick up a sport you stopped participating in.

38. Join health initiatives and challenges at the workplace.

39. If you’ve been sitting for over an hour, get up and walk around — like right now if it applies.

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40. Take your dog on a walk! If you have one of course. The exercise isn’t just for your pup.

41. Vacuum the house. It’ll get you moving and can burn up to 300 calories per hour!

42. Avoid artificial sweeteners. If you need one, try Stevia.

43. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk.

44. Incorporate a resistance training routine instead of only performing cardio. It promotes strong bones and faster metabolism.

45. Drain the bacon grease before frying your eggs!

46. If you are eat a salad, avoid dousing it in dressing. A single serving of ranch dressing can be up to 150 calories.

47. Trouble sleeping through the night? Decrease caffeine intake. Especially within 5 hours of bedtime.

48. Read a book. Stimulating your mind promotes physical health more than you know.

49. Choose baked chips or veggie chips instead of regular ones.

50. Avoid deep fried foods. Baked or grilled versions are better choices.

51. Buy fresh veggies over canned or frozen ones if possible.

52. Do not drink Fireball. Stuff has antifreeze in it.

53. When eating out, pick a healthier option. It’ll taste better than you expect.

54. Write your thoughts out every once in awhile. Keep a diary. Write an article. It helps relieve stress.

55. Talking to people also relieves stress. Get out there and be social. Don’t hold things in.

56. Choose leaner meats for your sandwiches and meals.

57. Don’t skip meals too often. Your body needs food for energy.

58. Start a running or workout group amongst your friends and/or colleagues.

59. Listen to music you enjoy. It soothes.

60. Buy whole grain breads and pastas over instead of white.

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61. Order brown rice instead of white rice at Chinese restaurants.

62. When your family or workplace orders donuts and you can’t resist, only take one.

63. Use low or non-fat versions of sauces. Those tiny little packets of Chick-Fil-A Sauce have 140 calories!

64. Rely less on Ibuprofen for hangovers and more on water and hydration.

65. Find a workout buddy! The extra accountability will keep you, well, accountable.

66. Take naps when exhausted instead of chugging more caffeine. Listening to your body goes a long way.

67. Substitute unsweetened apple sauce for butter when baking.

68. Sweeten with Stevia instead of sugar when baking. A 1:1 ratio works well.

69. Take a green drink supplement if you don’t get a wide range of vegetables and fruits daily.

70. Meditate. Occasionally taking a moment of silence to be inside your own mind and simply think can promote mental health and relaxation.

71. Eat until satisfied, not full.

72. Prep meals over the weekend so that you have healthy and readily available options throughout the week.

73. Snack less and eat more filling meals.

74. Do mini workouts during commercial breaks. Push ups, sit ups, crunches, planks, and squats are all prime candidates.

75. If pressed for time in the gym, perform compound movements that hit large numbers of muscles such as squats and pullups.

76. Wait 10 minutes after eating meals to make sure you’re actually still hungry before going for a post-meal snack. It takes time for your brain to catch up to your belly sometimes.

77. Read food labels. Knowing how much protein, fat, and carbs you’re consuming is key to understanding your nutrition.

78. If the nutrition label indicates any trans-fats, do not eat that food. Trans-fats clog your arteries.

79. Learn to refuse unhealthy foods when they are offered to you. Learning to say no is a good lesson to learn for every aspect of life. You can’t make everyone happy.

80. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

81. Get off the internet sometimes and go outside. We spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter and not enough moving around.

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82. Add lemon to your water. It aids digestion by clearing the digestive tract.

83. Stretch tight or sore muscles. Many of us have become immobile with age and lack of exercise. Stretching can get you moving and functioning properly again.

84. Use non-stick spray instead of butter and oil when pan-frying foods.

85. Drink your coffee black. Sugar and creamer add unnecessary calories and really add up over time if you’re a coffee drinker.

86. Consume 1 tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar daily to prevent heartburn and acid reflux.

87. Get up to get the remote instead of asking for it to be passed to your lazy bum.

88. Incorporate a day to go hiking on your vacations. Hiking can burn anywhere from 300 to 600 calories per hour.

89. Sign up for a 5k or 10k. You’re more likely to do something if you pay for it. This also provides a sense of urgency because you can’t push back the date.

90. Stop waiting and take out the garbage before it overflows. Just another way to get moving. You’ll also get that bonus sense of accomplishment that comes with having a nice, clean, empty trash can (or is that just me?).

91. Request no butter and no oil at restaurants. Excess fats really pack on the calories.

92. Pass on the fries. They are high carb and high fat, which means extra high calorie. Save them for cheat meals.

93. Get some sun. Vitamin D deficiency is more common now than ever. Excess sun can be detrimental to your skin health, but most people don’t get enough.

94. Perform both high intensity and low-intensity exercises — anything from walking to burpees. This ensures that your body becomes efficient using both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems.

95. Hit the pool! Swimming for fitness burns more calories than running. Don’t believe me? Google Michael Phelps’ 12,000 calorie diet.

96. Pace during long phone calls. It may sound silly, but the extra steps really add up. I’ve paced over 1500 steps back and forth while talking on the phone. That’s almost an entire mile!

97. Load up a quarter to half of your dinner plate with veggies. Portion control helps prevent overeating.

98. Stop thinking and start doing. If you’re “thinking about” getting in shape or starting a program, JUST DO IT.

99. Use cheat meals instead of cheat days. A full day of cheating can throw off your progress pretty badly if you can eat a large enough amount of food. It’s difficult to do this with a single cheat meal though.

100. At Chipotle, get a bowl instead of the burrito.

More by this author

Drew Kocak

Online Personal Trainer / Fitness Blogger

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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