You’ve probably heard the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but how does that apply to everyday life? In reality, staying healthy requires a lot of upfront work. Think of how much easier it is to order a takeaway rather than prepping and cooking a healthier meal. If you’re already drained from work, school, or other obligations, you may not have the energy to follow through on healthier habits.
Luckily, there are many ways you can improve your health without exerting too much thought or effort.
1. Buy a Water Bottle
Ideally, you should drink between eight to ten glasses of water per day to prevent dehydration. Most people are not drinking nearly enough water. Poor hydration can trigger symptoms like headaches, digestive problems, and tiredness.
People are also more likely to quench their thirst with coffee or sugary beverages, which can make dehydration symptoms even worse.
Buying a water bottle is the easiest way to increase your water intake without even trying. Thermo flasks can keep your water ice-cold for up to 24-hours, ensuring that the water is drinkable all day long. If you find water too bland, throw in a few slices of lemon or cucumber into the flask to infuse a bit of flavor.
Water bottles come in many sizes and designs. If you’re constantly on the go, consider a wedged-shaped bottle that can fit neatly in your purse or backpack. Some hi-tech designs integrate monitors that sync up with your smartphone and send you automatic reminders.
2. Schedule a Check-Up
If it’s been a while since you’ve set foot in your doctor’s office, it may be time to schedule an annual check-up. In addition to the normal screenings, checkups give you the opportunity to discuss any other health issues you’ve been dealing with.
If you’ve been struggling with your weight, trying to quit smoking, or wanting to eat healthier, your primary care doctor can give you personalized advice. You can make the most out of the appointment by writing down all of your health concerns.
You can also request tests that scan for multiple conditions with one sample, such as the Hologic ultimate multi-checker swab or a vitamin deficiency blood test panel. The results will give you a snapshot of your overall health without the need for multiple doctor’s visits.
3. Start an Active Hobby
Despite the clear health benefits of engaging in daily exercise, it can be difficult to make time for a workout if you already have a hectic schedule. Instead of making exercise a stand-alone activity, try to incorporate more activity into a task you already enjoy.
For example, if you are an avid reader, consider reading a few chapters while you spin on a stationary bike. Likewise, you can walk or take a bike to run errands you need to do anyway. If you cannot avoid driving, park 10 to 15 minutes away from your destination. You can also commit to doing a lap around the entire mall or store before making any purchases.
4. Have Meat-Free Days
Eating too much red or processed meats can contribute to pretty serious health conditions, including heart diseases and cancer. You can cut down your risk without going completely vegetarian by adopting meat-free days into your meal plan.
Replacing meat with legumes, vegetables, or whole-grain pasta several times a week is an easy way to add more variety and nutrition to your diet. When you do eat meat, choose leaner cuts.
Following a flexitarian diet is not only beneficial for your health, but it is also good for the environment, as the meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to global gas emission levels.
5. Set a Bedtime
Getting a good night’s sleep can do wonders for your health. In fact, simply going to bed at a decent time can improve your mood, reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
You can use a sleep calculator to determine the best time for you to fall asleep. Start your night routine about 45 to 30 minutes before your bedtime. Include calming rituals like drinking a cup of tea or changing into pajamas. After a few weeks of following this routine, your body will start to associate these actions with sleep.
6. Wash Your Hands More Often
Although we learn the importance of washing our hands at a very young age, surprisingly few of us do it properly. A study by the US Department of Agriculture found that Americans do not wash their hands thoroughly enough to kill germs a whopping 97 percent of the time.
Even more disturbing, half of the population doesn’t use soap and water after using the restroom. Contamination from dirty hands can lead to all sorts of health problems, from food poisoning to eye infections.
Proper handwashing is a five-step process. First, wet your hands, then add soap. This step is essential because soap can more effectively kill bacteria on wet skin. Rub your hands together to create a lather.
Scrub your palms, backs of your hands, and between your fingers for at least 20 seconds. Rinse the soap off under a running tap. Avoid using standing water to rinse your hands, as this can redeposit bacteria on your skin. Then dry your hands with a clean towel. In a public restroom, turn off the tap using a paper towel.
While you cannot wash your hands too often, the most important time to scrub down is before preparing and eating meals, going to the bathroom, or playing with your pet. To avoid cross-contamination, you should also wash your hands after handling raw meat or eggs.
7. Take a Cold Shower
A blast of cold water in the morning is more than a refreshing way to wake up. Research has shown that cold showers can stimulate the immune system and even reduce some depressive symptoms.
On the other hand, standing too long in cold water can be really uncomfortable and even dangerous for people with certain heart conditions. To get the most health benefits without any of the risks, gradually lower the temperature as you shower. Once you have reached the coldest setting you can tolerate, stand under the water for three minutes.