20 ways to improve your health: Try one or master them all. Each tip takes 60 seconds or less.
Any goal, no matter how ambitious, seems a lot more achievable if you break it down into smaller chunks. That’s equally true for improving your health.
Want to eat better? Don’t go on the cauliflower diet. Want to get back in shape? We wouldn’t recommend starting with CrossFit’s most brutal workouts of the day.
Begin with baby steps and see how far they take you. Here are 20 easy health and fitness tips that take 60 seconds or less. Pick one or two to master every week, and start living a healthier and happier life.
1. Spice up your oatmeal. Try sprinkling cinnamon on your oatmeal to turbo-boost a heart-healthy breakfast. This antioxidant-rich spice, studies show, might reduce blood pressure.
2. Fight your pillow. Fold your pillow in half, then let go. If the pillow springs back, it’s in good shape. If it stays bent like a soggy potato chip, get rid of it. It’s not worthy of supporting your head and neck.
3. “Dry brush” your teeth. Before squeezing toothpaste onto your brush, take 30 seconds to brush your teeth with a dry soft-bristle toothbrush. Doing so cuts tartar by 60 percent.
4. Drink your vitamins. You’ve resisted the sugary cereal in favor of one fortified with vitamins. But as much as 40 percent of those vitamins can leach into the puddle of milk. Drink it up!
5. Smile, even when grumpy. Your brain will follow your body. If you force yourself to smile and sit up straight, you’ll instantly feel happier, more alert and relaxed.
6. Care for a mint? Smelling peppermint can boost exercise performance. Researchers say that the scent of mint alters your perception of how hard you’re exercising.
7. Take vitamin G. Improve your attitude with a daily dose of gratitude. Studies show that 90 percent of people say expressing gratitude made them happier people.
8. Ask for extra vinegar. Hoagie, po’ boy or hero — whatever you call your favorite sub, make it better by ordering extra splashes of vinegar. Nutritionists at Arizona State University say the acetic acid keeps blood-sugar levels from rising quickly.
9. Soothe a canker with tea. Hold a wet teabag on a canker sore. The tannins in the tea will help it heal.
10. Check your hydration. Most Americans walk around dehydrated, which affects energy level, fitness and digestion. Drink enough water so your urine looks pale yellow.
11. Sore back? Find a tennis ball. Cut a slit into an old tennis ball, squeeze it open, fill it with water and toss it in the freezer. Next time your back is sore, lie on your back, slip the frozen ball under your lower back, and roll around on it for soothing cold.
12. Purr-fect your posture. Stretch like a cat for 30 to 60 seconds when you roll out of bed each morning. It’s like hitting a reset button on your body. Get on all fours on the floor and curl your back toward the ceiling like a frightened cat. Hold for 10 seconds and then bend in the opposite direction, lowering your navel toward the floor while keeping your arms straight, hands under your shoulders and your thighs perpendicular to the floor.
13. Ten-second health check. Before popping your contacts into your eyes, give them the once-over on behalf of your cardiovascular system. A diet full of fat, protein or alcohol weakens your tears’ ability to block cholesterol from adhering to the lenses. This results in cloudy deposits.
14. Hydrate your mind. Your brain is 80 percent water. If you don’t drink enough to stay hydrated, you can reduce the ability of neurons to perform properly. So drink and think. Have at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.
15. Take a left at the potatoes.
If you eat more slowly, you’ll probably eat less. Achieve both by holding your fork in your nondominant hand. Bring plenty of napkins, just in case.
16. Squeeze more from tea.
Squeeze a lemon wedge into your iced or hot tea. The acidity can boost antioxidant concentrations in green tea by 20 percent, according to a study in the journal Food Chemistry. Researchers believe the same trick works with all kinds of tea.
17. Make an ice-gel pack.
Save money and soothe sore muscles with a homemade ice pack that conforms to ankles and knees. Mix a half-cup of water with a half-cup of rubbing alcohol in a sealable plastic bag. Place in a freezer for about two hours. The alcohol keeps the water slushy, not frozen solid.
18. Multitask with an apple.
Too rushed to brush at the office? Eat an apple. Apples dislodge food and stimulate saliva flow to counteract plaque and bad breath.
19. Put your heart on island time. Calm a racing heart by summoning some Bob Marley music on your iPhone. The beat of a typical reggae tune is 60 per minute, about the rate of a normal heartbeat.
20. Prevent back pain.
Avoid low-back pain on long car drives by tilting your rearview mirror up. Doing so will prevent you from slouching (which causes pain) by forcing you to sit up straighter to see other cars.
FIND MORE HEALTH AND WELLNESS TIPS SUITED FOR SCOUTERS AT SCOUTINGMAGAZINE.ORG/WELLNESS