Improving your health is an awesome goal, but there are so many factors to consider. Where do you start? Don't worry—we've done the research and compiled a list of tips and tricks you can use to starting improving your health today. Many of these are ideas are super easy to incorporate and even small changes can make a big difference!
Spend more time in nature.
Exposure to natural environments may lower stress and prevent illness.
Can it really be that simple? Research is ongoing, but scientific studies do indicate that spending time in nature can actually improve your health. There’s no wrong way to do this—take walks, hit the local trails, go fishing, visit a park or arboretum, or start a garden in your own backyard. Even sitting quietly outdoors is beneficial! The key is just to get out there and enjoy nature as often as you can.
- If you’re looking for a unique hobby to do outdoors, consider bird watching, archery, or mushroom foraging.
Take a probiotic supplement.
Your gut plays a crucial role in your health and well-being.
Disruptions and imbalances in gut bacteria have been linked to serious health problems like inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Taking probiotics can help restore balance by introducing doses of “good bacteria” into your gut. Research is ongoing, but potential benefits include improved immune system function, better digestion, and more.
- Probiotics contain different strains of bacteria, so it may take some trial and error to figure out which strains benefit you the most.
- You shouldn’t take probiotics if you have a compromised immune system. If you have a serious health condition, talk to your doctor before trying probiotics.
- There’s evidence that gut health may influence your mental health, too. Taking probiotics could potentially help with issues like anxiety and depression.
Consume fresh herbs.
Eating herbs may protect you from illnesses like cancer and diabetes.
Fresh herbs are rich in antioxidants and boast countless other potential health benefits. Best of all, they’re delicious and easy to add to your favorite salads and dishes. To enjoy the most benefits, consume the freshest herbs you can get your hands on. Dried herbs are less potent, but they provide health benefits, too!
- Fresh garlic, fenugreek, and lemongrass may help lower cholesterol. Garlic may also lower blood pressure.
- Fresh onions, chives, leeks, mint, basil, oregano, and sage may help protect against cancer.
- Rosemary, sage, and oregano contain high levels of antioxidants.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Focus on nutrient-rich foods within each food group.
A healthy diet boosts your energy, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Aim to eat a balance of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, veggies, and dairy products every day. Variety is also important! Try new foods and change up your weekly meals so your body gets all the nutrients it needs. A few helpful tips to get you started:
- Bring easy, portable snacks like nuts, bananas, and baby carrots with you to work or school.
- Plan your meals for the week ahead so healthy options are always within reach.
- Prioritize foods that are high-fiber, low-sugar, and low-salt.
- Reach for healthy fats in foods like fish, nuts, and avocados.
- Leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and cabbage are packed with nutrients.
- Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, and processed foods.
- Be sure to check nutrition labels for serving sizes; proper portioning is important, too.
Drink plenty of fluids.
Fluids keep your entire body functioning properly.
Water is the healthiest option, but juices and water-rich foods like soups, fruits, and vegetables are good, too. If you’re struggling to get enough fluid every day, try using bigger glasses (fill them up completely every time), drinking with a straw, and carrying a thermos or refillable bottle with you to work or school every day.
- How much fluid you need every day depends on factors like your height, weight, activity level, but in general:Males need 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a dayFemales need 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world’s leading hospitals Go to source
- Males need 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day
- Females need 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day
Sleep 7-9 hours every night.
Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day.
Getting in enough hours every night is important, but a consistent sleep pattern is also crucial because it helps your body and mind sync up. You’ll feel and perform your best if you work with your internal clock rather than against it. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day (including weekends)
- Get a dose of sunshine in the morning to help set your internal clock
- Create a nightly routine and start winding down an hour before bed
- Take naps or go to bed earlier if you feel tired during the day
- Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
Improve your sleep hygiene.
The quality of your sleep matters.
Sleep is a key component of good health. “Sleep hygiene” probably sounds a little clinical, but it’s all about focusing on improving your sleep habits so you get plenty of deep, restorative sleep every night. For awesome sleep hygiene, try these tips:
- Keep the temperature between 60–67 °F (16–19 °C)
- Keep your room dark (night lights and dim lighting are fine, if preferred)
- Shut off electronic devices 1 hour before bedtime
- Avoid eating 3-4 hours before bedtime
- Wear earplugs to block out noise
- Limit or avoid alcohol after dinner
Be more active during the day.
You can sneak more activity into your day no matter how busy you are.
When your to-do list is a mile long, it’s easy for exercise to end up at the very bottom. If this sounds familiar, focus on squeezing in short bursts of activity as you’re going about your day. There’s no right way to get moving and every bit helps! Here are a few easy ideas:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- Park further away in the parking lot
- Get up from your desk and stretch every 30 minutes
- Bike or walk to work
- Do 10 squats while you’re brushing your teeth
- Walk or do calf raises when you’re on the phone
Get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week.
Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is a great goal.
Aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. Basically, anything that gets your heart pumping! Health professionals recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week to maintain heart health. It’s easier to spread out exercise in short sessions over several days rather than exercising for multiple hours 1-2 days a week.
- Moderate intensity exercise: you can talk but you’re too out of breath to sing.
- Vigorous intensity: you can’t say more than a few words without running out of breath.
- Develop an exercise routine that works for you! Gardening, dancing, hiking, biking, swimming, and chasing after your kids/pets can all be great exercise.
Do strength training twice a week.
Strength training helps you build muscle and maintain bone density.
Choose activities that work all of your major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). Try to do 8-12 reps per exercise, which counts as 1 set. Start with 1 set per training session and work your way up to 2-3 sets of each exercise. Strength training activities include:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push-ups, sit-ups, etc.)
- Strenuous gardening (digging, shoveling, etc.)
- Some forms of yoga
Minimize your stress levels.
Chronic stress can lead to serious physical and mental health problems.
You can’t avoid stress completely and low levels of stress can actually be good for you. But intense or prolonged stress can disrupt your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. To minimize your stress as much as possible:
- Get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week
- Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness techniques
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Keep a journal
Wash your hands often.
It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs.
It’s particularly important to wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing and eating food, and after handling animals. Lather up using warm water and gentle soap for about 20 seconds. Then, rinse your hands and dry them off with a clean towel.
- Washing your hands may sound like a no-brainer, but it can easily slip your mind if you’re distracted or in a hurry.
- Hand sanitizer can work in a pinch, but it’s not as effective as good old soap and water. Try to wash your hands as soon as you can.
- Scrubbing up regularly can help prevent illnesses like flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19.
Dry brush your skin.
Dry brushing exfoliates, stimulates circulation, and may boost immunity.
The best tool for this is a natural, stiff-bristled bath brush with a long handle. Starting at your ankles, brush up your legs using light, fluid motions. A couple of overlapping strokes is plenty! Then, swipe a few times from wrist to shoulder and finish with a couple of gentle, circular strokes on your tummy and back. Follow up with a shower to rinse away dead skin and moisturize when you get out.
- Stick with 1-2 sessions a week until you know how your skin handles it. If all goes well, work your way up to once a day.
- Don’t dry brush your face; that skin is too delicate. Lighten the pressure for other sensitive areas like your abdomen, breasts, and neck (or skip them).
- Avoid dry brushing broken skin, moles, warts, and other raised bumps.
Enjoy a glass of red wine.
Kicking back with a nice red may boost heart health.
Studies show that the antioxidants in red wine may prevent damaged blood vessels, reduce cholesterol, and prevent blood clots. If red wine isn’t your jam, there’s evidence that all alcoholic beverages (including white wine, beer, and spirits) may lower your risk of heart disease. The key is to drink in moderation—having more than 1 alcoholic beverage a day will do more harm than good.
- A single serving of red wine is about 5 ounces (30 ml).
- If you don’t enjoy alcohol, no worries! You can get the same benefits from eating grapes and drinking grape juice.
Boost cognition with games and puzzles.
Your brain needs exercise, too!
Studies show that “brain games” like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess may improve cognitive functioning. Keeping your brain active may also prevent dementia and other memory problems as you age. To reap the most benefits, try to engage your mind with at least 1 game or mental exercise every day.
- If crosswords aren’t your thing, you may get the same benefits from card games, board games, and computer games.
Watch your posture.
Poor posture can affect your long-term health significantly.
Bad posture can lead to decreased range of motion, muscle tightness, weakened muscles, and balance issues. That said, poor posture is a bad habit that you can break! The key is checking in with yourself regularly during the day and adjusting your posture, as needed, until it becomes habitual. For example, if you work at a desk every day, put a sticky note on your computer monitor to remind yourself to sit up straight. Additionally, be sure to keep your:
- Chin lifted and parallel to the floor
- Shoulders even and relaxed
- Spine straight and neutral (no flexing or arching)
- Abdominal muscles engaged
- Hips even
- Knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Weight distributed evenly on both feet
Get an annual checkup or physical.
Regular screenings can help you prevent serious health issues.
If you’re asymptomatic and under the age of 65, a basic physical is really all you need (although you can certainly get a more comprehensive screening if you want to). If you’re over 65, doctors recommend a comprehensive wellness screening every year. Regardless of age, if you’re experiencing worrisome or long-lasting symptoms of any kind, schedule a routine checkup ASAP.
- Bring a list of current symptoms and your family’s health history with you to the exam. This helps your doctor figure out what screenings you need.
- Many illnesses are treatable if you catch them in the early stages. The longer an illness or condition goes undiagnosed, the harder it’ll be to treat.
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health.
But quitting can be tough since your body is addicted to the nicotine. That said, people quit smoking every single day, and you can, too! Nicotine gum, patches, medications, and other treatments are available to help you kick the habit for good.
- Quitting smoking improves your health in many ways. You’ll heal faster, get sick less often, have more energy, and be physically stronger when you’re a nonsmoker.
- Quitting also reduces your risk of serious health problems like heart disease, cancer, and lung disease.