Getting healthier and stronger shouldn’t involve sweeping overhauls to your life, such as crash diets or hitting the gym daily. In fact, drastic changes are usually difficult to sustain long term, and might not even be healthy in the short term. With small adjustments or additions to your daily routine, you can increase your strength, control your weight, and feel healthier overall.
Take the Stairs
It may not seem like much, but taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work or your apartment building can account for a significant improvement in health and fitness. Stair climbing increases leg power and muscle mass and escalates aerobic ability. It’s also good for retaining bone mass and density, helping you to maintain healthy bones and joints as you age. Unless you live way, way up, you’ll likely find it doesn’t take any more time than a slow-moving elevator.
Carry Groceries to the Car
Carrying groceries from the store to the car is essentially the same as walking with weights around your wrists. Increase your steps a little by parking a bit farther away. Then, adding the weight of groceries will amp up the muscle involvement, incorporating strength training into your routine activity. This can strengthen your body over time and increases your heart’s endurance. Obviously, skip this one when you’ve bought 20 lbs of kitty litter and 40 lbs of potatoes.
Sleep is essential for good health. During sleep, your body recovers from the previous day, rebuilds energy, and activates the hormones that control appetite. By getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night, your body can run at its optimum level, helping you reach your weight and activity goals. If seven to eight hours in one stretch just doesn’t work with your lifestyle, try sneaking a quick nap in during the day or going to bed 30 minutes earlier.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but why is that? When you sleep, your body enters a fasting state for up to 10 hours. Upon waking, it is essential to replenish glucose levels and nutrients for good health. A healthy and balanced breakfast increases focus and alertness while giving you the energy to climb those stairs and get in those extra steps. Aim for foods high in fiber and lean protein.
Get in Extra Steps
While the sometimes-recommended 10,000 steps a day may seem daunting, it’s easy to increase step count without becoming overwhelmed. Walking is one form of exercise that is available without the use of expensive equipment, and can be done anywhere. It also helps reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Taking a 10-minute walk at lunch, parking farther at the grocery store, and walking the dog a couple of times each day can increase your step count drastically and contribute to the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
Bike to Work
Leave the car parked when heading to work or running errands, and opt instead for a bike ride. Riding a bike has been found to increase muscle strength and flexibility, and it uses all of the major muscle groups. It’s also great for cardiovascular health and is low impact enough for most people with sore joints. Cycling to your destinations is a great way to sneak a little extra exercise in without disrupting your daily routine.
Drink One Extra Glass of Water a Day
Hydration is key for building muscle mass and keeping bones and joints healthy. It also eliminates waste in the body to help keep you healthy. While the recommendation is eight glasses per day, this varies by person, based on size, sex, and activity level. By focusing on adding just one extra glass of water to your daily intake, you might find you can reach the right amount for your body with very little effort.
Introduce Balance Exercises to Your Day
Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth, cooking dinner, or standing in line at the store. This simple act will engage your core muscles, making you stronger with minimal effort. It will also improve your agility, and mobility, which are important to your overall health and wellbeing as you age.
Get Some Sun
Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential for bone and muscle health, and a lack of it can result in muscle weakness or muscle wasting. By getting a healthy dose of sunshine each day, you can stave off vitamin D deficiency and help maintain strong muscles. But of course, take care to limit your exposure without sunscreen to 15 minutes per day.
Make Healthy Foods Readily Available
Fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins help build strong muscles and maintain a healthy body. By keeping these foods readily available — and maybe even prepped — in your home, you can make the healthy choice the easy choice. Keep a bowl of washed fruit on the counter and some pre-cooked chicken breasts in the fridge for a quick and healthy snack or to toss into a dinner on the go.