Between work and family obligations, most of us have a hard time fitting in regular activities to improve our health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only about 20 percent of Americans get the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day. But working healthy habits into your routine can lead to overall improvements in health – and can take as little as 15 minutes a day.
Start small by adding one new habit at a time and eventually they will add up to make a positive impact on your health.
Start your day with a glass of warm lemon water. Drinking lemon water regularly can decrease the acidity in your body, helping to fight inflammation while also enhancing the function of enzymes and stimulating the liver to flush out toxins. Its high levels of vitamin C also help keep your immune system strong – which is especially important on stressful days. Drink this first thing in the morning before having anything else to eat or drink.
Practice sun salutations. This yoga series is a great workout for the whole body and combines stretching, flexing and toning the muscles. For those not inclined to try sitting meditation, yoga is a wonderful form of moving meditation and can have many health benefits including lower stress levels and improved sleep.
Plan balanced meals and healthy snacks. Sitting down for a few minutes once a week helps you think about your health goals and plan meals that will help you reach those goals. Being prepared and having a shopping list helps you avoid temptation and will also make dinner preparation quicker and easier.
Add a salad to dinner. A diet rich in vegetables can help you prevent many diseases including high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease and some types of cancer. While dietary guidelines from the Harvard School of Public Health recommend five to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, the average American gets a total of just three servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Adding a salad to dinner requires virtually no prep and can help you reach a healthier daily veggie intake.
Chew your food slowly. Spend an extra five minutes at each meal chewing your food. Taking small, slow bites can help kickstart your digestive juices, making your meal easier to digest and reducing intestinal distress. Taking more time to savor each bite also helps you become more mindful of what you’re eating, which can help eliminate overeating and emotional eating.
Pack a lunch to take to work. While it may seem easier to grab a quick bite to eat on your lunch break, it can be difficult to make healthy choices. Packing your own lunch can help you avoid empty calories and overly processed foods and focus on fresh produce and healthy proteins. Cooking a little extra at dinner and packing it for lunch the next day is the easiest way to ensure a healthy meal.
Take a walk after dinner. According to the EveryBody Walk Campaign, which aims to get more Americans up and moving, exercising for even 15 minutes a day can add three years to a person’s life expectancy. Daily walks can also boost your mood, strengthen bones and joints, improve sleep, reduce depression and even reduce pain for people living with arthritis.
Turn off electronics 15 minutes earlier. Technology is incorporated into every aspect of modern life and over time can have an impact on your posture, eyesight and even your balance. Committing to turning off electronics just 15 minutes earlier may not seem like much, but it adds up over time.