Making healthier choices doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. A better you can be as easy as proper dental hygiene, drinking more water, or stretching. Here’s 10 steps to a healthier life, in 60 seconds or less.
1. Start the day with a sun salutation
A sun salutation is a quick way to prepare your mind and body for the day to come. Sun salutations typically serve as a warm-up for yoga practices, but promote wellness even when preformed alone.
The 12-pose flow tones up the digestive system using alternate stretching and compression of abdominal organs, activating digestion and reviving the spirit. Because you’ll be moving through a plank and downward dog, you’ll be strengthening the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, and back. All in one minute.
Here’s what a sun salutation looks like.
2. Brush and floss
The fountain of youth may start with healthy gums and pearly whites. A bright smile takes years of off your appearance, and it points to good health. Brushing and flossing (at least once a day) is too easy not to do. Science tells us that along with a more radiant smile, you will improve your overall health by sticking to a good oral hygiene routine.
Researchers at The University of Edinburgh confirmed a suspected link between gum disease and diabetes. They found that chemical change caused by inflammation in the mouth reduces the effectiveness of insulin, making it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
Several studies have also proven that poor oral hygiene can lead to gum inflammation, sores, and ulcers that leave your mouth open to infection. Your dentist hasn’t been exaggerating — brushing and flossing really is important!
3. Drink a glass of water
The human body is 60% water, so you need to replenish on a regular basis to avoid dehydration. Drinking enough water keeps your body in good health. Plus, staying hydrated prevents constipation, promotes glowing skin, and keeps our kidneys functioning correctly.
Water also protects you from cancer. Studies are finding that increased water intake leads to lower risk of some cancers including bladder, colon, and breast. It also decreases your risk of coronary heart disease.
So grab a glass of water in the morning or add a cup of tea to your afternoon snack. Wellness is as easy as turning on the faucet.
Sitting for long periods of time can cause a lot of aches and pains that stem from stiffness. Set aside a minute out of your day for stretching to help your body realign and loosen up.
If that’s not enough, stretching has also been proven to increase the quality of sleep and fight food cravings.
This one can easily be done in less than 60 seconds. Smiling encourages your body to make more white blood cells, which means you’ll have an easier time fighting off illness.
Studies have shown that people who are smiling are found more attractive and approachable by those they encounter. Plus, because smiling stimulates endorphins, you’ll be far less stressed out.
Grinning is a surefire way to encourage your own body to be its best, and it’s contagious. So spread around your smile — you’re getting healthier and helping others.
6. Take a deep breath and relax
Deep breathing is one of our bodies’ best defenses against stress. Shallow breathing, or hyperventilation, can prolong feelings of anxiety by making the physical symptoms of stress worse. On the other hand, slow, steady breathing can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.
It seems that mindful breathing affects more than our response to stressors. NPR reports that deep breathing beneficially affects “the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes.”
Whether you need to relax or refresh, take a moment to breath deeply. Your body will thank you.
7. Wash your hands
Those signs aren’t in restrooms for no reason. Infectious diseases can be spread from one person to another through contaminated hands, particularly gastrointestinal infections, influenza, and hepatitis A. Washing your hands prevents you from getting sick and minimizes the spread of germs.
Aside from in the restroom, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that you wash your hands before and after food preparation, before eating, and after blowing your nose. Even something as simple as hand washing education reduces respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 21%.
Take 20-30 seconds to wash away those germs. You’ll get sick less often.
8. Grab a super-food snack, like dark chocolate
Snack time is the best time, but don’t let it sabotage your health. Try making it a super-snack with a food like dark chocolate. Studies have proven, time and time again, that dark chocolate reduces your risk of stoke, lowers blood pressure, lowers bad cholesterol, and reduces your risk of heart disease.
For optimum health benefits, make sure you’re getting a chocolate that’s at least 70% dark and with minimal sugar. Even better, grab one that’s sweetened with coconut sugar or has other super-foods added in like maca, goji berries, or almonds.
9. Put on sunscreen
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, almost 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year in the United States. Sun exposure is one of the main causes of skin cancer. Protecting yourself is as easy as adding sunscreen to your morning routine.
These days, sunscreen application can be as simple as putting on foundation. To make sure you stick to the routine, find a method that works well for you. Sunscreen is available in sprays, oil free moisturizers, and powder make-up. You’ll get bonus points for wearing a hat.
10. Do 60 seconds of jumping jacks
Remember doing jumping jacks in gym class? Turns out they had the right idea. A minute of moving can fend off all sorts of problems. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that sitting for long stretches of time increases the odds of an untimely death by up to 12%.
Those jumping jacks will get your blood circulating, clear brain fog, and reduce your risk for a herniated disk. Add this mini health booster to your afternoon routine. Take 30 seconds here and 30 seconds there to energize your body and lengthen your life.