Making an effort to live healthy can seem very labourious. All the big, scary rules to follow, all the goodies you have to give up. You know it’s good for you in the long run, but just can’t seem to make yourself go through with it.
We’re not going to ask you to make drastic changes right now. Instead, we believe taking baby steps is a better way to get your there eventually. That’s how babies learn to walk, and how you can make a mountain out of a molehill.
So without further ado, we present to you 12 super easy ways to live healthier:
1. Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
Find a part of your daily life where you can fit in exercise and make it a routine. For example, you can walk up the stairs daily to your office floor, or do a run to the nearby grocery store instead of a drive. If you integrate exercise into what you need to do everyday, there’s no missing it.
2. Drink more water
Water being good for you is common knowledge. Water keeps your kidneys functioning and helps keep your muscles moving. It also helps keep your skin looking glowy while making your time on the toilet a little easier. If you make it a habit to drink a little water throughout the day, you’ll also be keeping your appetite in check as our brains sometimes mistake thirst for hunger.
3. Walk faster and walk more
Instead of taking the car or a cab all the time, try incorporating more walks. Picking up your kid from kindergarten down the road? Walk. Going to the top floor of the mall? Skip the elevator and walk. Park further away from the entrance so you can get more steps done. And don’t just saunter about, pick up speed and walk fast. New research found that walkers who moved faster were less likely to die prematurely. How’s that for a reason?
4. Eat the fruits instead of drinking them
Fruit juice can be good for you in small amounts, but it’s better to eat the fruits instead of drinking them. Why? Fruit juice passes through your digestive system much faster than a whole fiber-rich fruit can. So although fruit juice is derived from fruits, you will absorb the sugar much faster from the juice (AND you’ll take in more sugar as well, since a glass of orange juice is probably the liquid contents of five oranges). Don’t drink fruit “drinks” either, those are just posing as pure fruit juices but have a lot more added sugar packed in.
[See also: 4 Health Products That’ve Been Pranking You]
5. Take the stairs
A study conducted by Swiss researchers forced its participants to only use the stairs at work for 3 months. The results? A drop in body fat, waistlines and blood pressure. This translates to a 15% reduction in chances of dying young. It’s not a drastically difficult way to add more physical activity into your life, so from tomorrow, ditch the elevator or escalator for the stairs whenever you come across one!
6. Switch to wholegrain
Swap out the white rice for brown rice, search for wholegrain pasta and buy wholegrain bread. I always thought giving up white bread, white rice, and regular pasta for wholegrain would be a huge sacrifice but now I don’t even miss it! Unlike refined grains which give you empty carbs, wholegrains come with the key nutrients intact (fibre, minerals, vitamins) to help you prevent disease, lower your cholesterol, and keep you fuller for longer.
7. Take one less teaspoon of sugar
Malaysians are the one of the top consumers of sugar in the world, and we shouldn’t be all that proud of it. We’re taking in 26 teaspoons a day when the WHO recommends 12 teaspoons. So, before spooning in that second teaspoon of sugar into your coffee or tea, think twice. Start with one less teaspoon a day, then gradually subtract from that.
[See also: 10 Super Simple Ways to Eat Less Sugar Now]
Start from your worst habits and trade up slightly. For example, if you cannot live without Coca-Cola, trade-up to a slightly better version with zero sugar, Diet Coke. Then when you’re ready, trade-up to sparkling water with a spritz of lemon. You can do the same with many other things, types of oil, favourite pastas, ice creams etc. Research shows that if you make changes incrementally over time, it is more effective at driving behaviour change than drastic diet changes.
9. Be thankful
Your physical health is parallel to your mental health, and how happy you are can greatly affect how healthy you are. Studies show that people who regularly practise gratitude come out stronger healthwise compared to their peers who spend their days being worried and complaining. The thankful ones were more likely to have stronger immune systems, cope better with stress, improved mental alertness, amongst many other benefits. So stop pouting and start counting your blessings!
10. Get enough ZZZs
Lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain, worse memory, worse metabolism, hypertension, irregular heartbeats, and worst of all, panda eyes! The general consensus on how many hours to sleep per night is 7 – 8. With that said, everyone is built differently and would require different amounts of sleep, so find what suits you best.
11. Wash your hands often
If you find yourself suffering with a cold and sore throat very often, perhaps you should examine your hand-washing hygiene habits. Practically everything we touch is coated with bacteria, some absolutely harmless, some which will cause your sniffles to return, or worse. While we’re not advocating you to wash your hands every second of the day, it is a good idea to do it before and after eating, and after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing and more. Just use your common sense.
[See also: 20 Germiest Things You Touch Every Day]
12. Combine your favourite TV shows with exercise
If you’re like me, you regularly require a dose of TV to de-stress. And there’s nothing wrong with that! However, because of this, I find myself plopped in the sofa way too often, which drastically lowers my time spent being active. That was until I saw this girl on the treadmill beside mine watching a melodramatic soap opera on her tablet. What an ingenious idea! I never had another boring gym session after that fated day. Anyone who runs on a treadmill knows how mind-numbingly boring it can be, so download a few of your favourite shows onto your smartphone or tablet, and bring it to the gym!
Start off with the small stuff, then gradually work your way towards the big stuff. If you take it on gradually, it’ll seem easier! Good luck!
What other little things do you suggest we do to make healthy living easier? Share your insights with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!