A healthy lifestyle, an ideal weight or a new diet can’t be achieved in one fell swoop — we’ve tried. It’s the sum of all your habits. That’s part of the reason people who live the longest don’t carve out time specifically for exercise. Rather than going to the gym for an hour and remaining still for much of the rest of the day, they live in environments that encourage them to spend much of their day moving.
You can apply that philosophy to your overall health. It’s more attainable, and therefore better, to take several smaller steps toward good health than one big, difficult step. Below are 10 steps you can take to be healthier every day provided by Mike DaRosa, DO, a Sports Medicine Doctor in Denver.
1. Live where you live.
This is certainly a big picture decision, but it will help you with your day-to-day health. If possible, live close to where you work, shop, eat, where your kids go to school, etc. Then you can walk or bike to many of your activities and chores, rather than jumping (and sitting) in the car.
2. Get a dog.
Disclaimer: A dog is a major life responsibility, not just a workout companion. Certainly don’t get a dog just to motivate you to move more, but if you’re leaning toward getting a dog, put increased activity in the ‘pro’ column. Without regular walks and bathroom breaks dogs will turn your home into a chewed-on, urine-stained ghost of its former self. That should be enough motivation to get you off the couch. Also, their companionship is a nice boost to your mental health
3. Do an activity you actually like.
The best workout is the one you will actually do. If you hate running, don’t try to force yourself to do it four times a week. Maybe you only like activity when playing sports. That’s fine. Join a rec league or scout out pick-up games in your area. Maybe you can only fully mentally escape work (Which you should do because it’s good for your mental health) when engrossed in another activity. Take up crafts, arts, a book club or something else that occupies your mind. Just find something you look forward to rather than just something you want to get done.
Obviously, seek out things that make you smile. Not as obvious (and frankly, a little odd), smile no matter what. A smile is not only your body’s reaction to something pleasant, but part of a positive feedback loop with your brain. The muscles that make you smile send endorphins to your brain and make you feel happier even if you’re forcing it. Smile your way to happiness, rather than waiting for something to make you smile.
5. Connect with an active friend.
Try to find someone who you can do activities with. And this can be multiple people — someone you go to the gym with, someone else you walk with at work and someone else you just talk with. A partner will make the activity more enjoyable and provide someone to hold you accountable. New to town? Meetup
can help you find people in your area who love what you love.
Research has found
that meditation can reduce your anxiety, stress and pain. Don’t have time to isolate yourself for an hour and truly zen out? Don’t worry. While it would be great to set aside that time, short meditation sessions can still help reduce stress reactions
. Find a quiet space and follow some simple guides
until it becomes second nature.
7. Eat the rainbow.
No, not a Skittles-only diet. If you have multiple, vibrant colors on your plate at each meal or snack it’s a sign you’re getting several fruits and vegetables. Green is almost always a good sign — especially leafy greens. But typically the more color you can get, the wider spectrum of vitamins and minerals you’re consuming. “If you have two fresh foods with at least two colors on your plate, you’re doing great,” says Stacy Beeson, a Registered Dietitian in Denver.
8. Break it up.
If your job keeps you stagnant for much of the day, make sure you take regular breaks. Get up, move, talk with real people and focus your attention on something that’s not your work. Moving regularly is obviously good for your physical health, but taking breaks can also improve your focus and productivity
Take it back to elementary school. Do something simply for the pleasure of it — not to achieve a specific outcome. Puzzles, Legos, swings, riding a bike, playing tag or anything else you feel is fun. It can reduce your stress
and improve your overall well-being
10. Keep a journal.
Whether you want to use a very structured journal or just write down your thoughts as they come, keeping a regular journal can be very beneficial. Research shows that expressive writing can have physical and emotional health benefits. It’s also a great way to practice gratitude, which can positively impact your happiness.
While these are all great steps you can take to improve your health, don’t try to take them all at once. Remember, small, manageable steps can make a big difference together and you will be more likely to stick with them if you don’t try to make too many changes at once.