When it comes to health, many times, it’s the smallest steps that deliver the biggest results. Adopt some of these small but mighty promises to your body. In time, you might just experience lower levels of stress, higher doses of happiness and better progress reports when you hit your doctor’s office.
1.Breathe! “So many of us do not breathe fully and completely,” says Michelle Berger, owner of Pure Pilates in Billings. Inhale deeply and exhale fully. “Your mind, body and spirit will thank you!”
2. Take a bath. Studies show it improves mood, brings on better sleep and calms those aching muscles.
3. What’s your why? “Being successful with your health requires identifying what your goals are. Only then can you develop a plan to actually achieve those goals,” says Shara Ford, General Manager of Granite Health & Fitness.
4. Get a full 8 hours. A full night’s sleep not only repairs the cell damage, but those who get less than 8 hours of quality sleep visit the doctor 11% more than those who are well-rested.
5. Grab some water! “Connective tissue runs through your whole body, around your muscles, organs, and nerves. In order to keep your body running smoothly, you must keep it hydrated,” says Tiffani Hein, certified Rolfer.
6. Be conﬁdent! Research shows it helps you better tackle life’s challenges by giving your attitude a boost.
7. Make your own dressings and marinades. Skip the bottled options loaded with preservatives. Use your own oils and spices to dress your greens with deliciousness.
8. Plan your week. “Like so many areas of life, acting in the moment with no preparation ahead of time provides very little chance of being truly successful with your goals,” says Shara Ford.
9. Wipe down those objects that get a lot of traffic like doorknobs, counters and even the TV remote. Doing so can reduce the spread of viruses by 90%.
10. Plan a trip. Happiness spikes when you start planning so dream a little about that next adventure.
11. Shut down technology 2 hours before bed. Cell phones and tablets cause a glow in blue spectrum light, which can shut down the production of the sleep inducing hormone, melatonin.
12. Try mindful meditation. Journal of the American Medical Association researchers found meditation can alleviate pain, anxiety, and depression, sometimes with the same effects as drug therapy.
13. Change your contacts. “By following the recommended schedule by your eye doctor, you can reduce the risk of infections and scarring,” says Dr. Robyn Clausen, of Bauer & Clausen Optometry.
14. Use time wisely. “The truth is we all get the same 24 hours a day to decide where we want to invest it. Spend your time wisely and invest in something that matters,” says Shara Ford.
16. Show gratitude! Studies show grateful people are more likely to follow a health and wellness plan, leading to a longer life.
17. Smile! When you move those muscles in your face, it releases endorphins. These little brain chemicals help us feel happy and lower stress too.
18. Make your bed. Studies show starting your day with a good habit empowers you to make better decisions the rest of your day.
19. Wear sunglasses. “By protecting your eyes from UV radiation, you’re going to reduce the risk of macular degeneration,” says Dr. Robyn Clausen. She adds that this extra protection will also slow the progression of cataracts.
20. Stop Googling it! “It does nothing but add more chaos when you are already confused about how to get healthy,” says Rebecca Douglas, Certified Nutrition Specialist and owner of Fit Body Bootcamp. For answers, try a coach or personal trainer to guide your journey to better health.
21. Don’t start your day plugged in. Allow 10 minutes of quiet to center your day instead of being caught up immediately with the hustle and bustle of your to-do list.
22. Go for a walk. According to one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a half hour walk a day delivers a 30% lower risk of heart disease and lowers depression rates by 70%.
23. Try a different approach to wellness. “Start being honest with yourself about how much of the wrong kinds of food you are actually eating,” says Rebecca Douglas. After doing a nutrition check, “Ramp up your workout intensity.”
24. Be Sugar Smart. Experts say we should consume no more than 25 grams of sugar a day. The average American ingests 5 times that, leading to increased rates of diabetes and obesity.
25. Visualize healthy foods. Studies show thinking about nutrition-packed foods instead of junk food helps lessen the spike of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
26. Take an afternoon break. Even a five minute break helps your body take a mini time out, improving your productivity for the rest of your day.
27. Squeeze in lemon water. Two tablespoons of lemon juice in water will aid digestion. It also provides a healthy dose of Vitamin C and a boost in potassium, alleviating water retention.
28. Get Moving! “Pick a method that trains the entire body. It needs to be something that excites you and speaks to you,” Michelle Berger says. A good workout rouses brain chemicals that leave you feeling more joyful and relaxed.
29. Listen to a slice of serenity. Playing calming music helps slow our breathing and heart rate.
30. Pop a probiotic. This little helper balances the good bacteria in your gut, which can have a direct impact on your overall health.
31. Stretch. It improves balance and alleviates stiffness. Studies show it also releases endorphins, upping the happy factor during your day.
32. Take Vitamin D during the winter. Most Montanans suffer from a vitamin D deficiency. This power vitamin helps prevent bone loss, fights disease and depression plus boosts weight loss.
33. Have eggs for dinner. Eggs are an inexpensive source of high-quality protein, B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, along with minerals such as zinc, iron, selenium, and copper.
34. Apply pressure. Need a way to get that blood pumping and relieve tension? Try applying pressure to the base of each cheekbone lightly for 30 seconds.
35. Brush your tongue. Sad but true, it holds onto bacteria, which causes gum disease, bad breath and increases the risk of cavities.
36. Keep that annual physical. This only helps you see the full and manageable health picture to keep any potential risks for disease at bay.
37. Don’t suffer from proportion distortion. Read the label to make sure you are taking in the calories and portions intended. Many times, what looks like one serving is actually two.
38. Rinse with saline. This little spray moisturizes nasal passages and washes away congestion, allergens, and other irritants.
39. Soak in Epsom Salts. Add a little to your bath. Your body will thank you when these salts replenish your body’s magnesium levels, which can be drained by stress.
40. Don’t focus on perfection. “Remember, with any change in life, it’s about progress, not perfection,” says Tiffani Hein.
41. Stop mindless munching. If snacking is your downfall, keep your mouth busy with some sugar-free gum.
42. Go with Garlic. This potent anti-microbial combats colds and regular use can reportedly lower blood pressure. Just add 1 to 2 cloves to your diet each day.
43. Find a healthy alternative. Have a sweet tooth that won’t quit? Find something healthy that you enjoy and visualize it as a guilty pleasure.
44. Don’t stifle that yawn. Yawning increases oxygen and improves mental alertness.
45. Set small attainable goals. There’s nothing like success to keep you on track with your bigger picture health and life goals.
46. Schedule that mammogram. Imaging can detect cancer when it’s most treatable, up to two years before you can actually feel a lump.
48. Sit up straight! Good posture increases your energizing hormones along with the happy neurotransmitter, serotonin, and cuts back on the dreaded stress hormone cortisol.
49. Volunteer! Studies show it lowers disease by up to 24% and produces those good-vibe chemicals — oxytocin, and progesterone — which lessen stress and inflammation.
50. Ditch your shoes at the door. Researchers tested the soles of shoes for germs and found all kinds of pathogens including E. coli.
51. Turn down the thermostat. Keeping it cool in the bedroom, 65 to 70 degrees, helps induce a restful sleep.
52. Settle in with chamomile tea. This relaxing tea contains oils that relax stomach muscles, easing indigestion and promoting a deeper sleep.
53. Drink your java. Studies say that daily cup of coffee can lower your risk of late-in-life dementia by 65% and your risk of depression by 20%.
54. Wear sunscreen. With skin cancer rates on the rise, you need this extra layer of protection.
55. Get your fruits and veggies. “Adapt your typical recipes to add in more vegetables, implement a Meatless Monday routine, or simply have a fruit smoothie for breakfast. The little changes will add up!” says Rochelle Davies.
56. Say a prayer. Researchers found that people who prayed were less vulnerable to the negative physical health effects associated with stress.
57. Track your calories. If following a nutritious diet is a challenge, download an app like My Fitness Pal. Not only will it track calories, it will give you a nutritional snapshot of what you’re eating.
58. Throw a 30-second dance party. You’ll stop the production of stress-related hormones and we guarantee you’ll feel more youthful in the process.
60. Ease tension. Feel around for those tender spots on your head and then, using a circular motion, rub them with the pad of your thumb and knuckles to help tension evaporate.
61. Up your fiber. 25 grams a day keeps the digestive system in order. Most Americans consume only 15 grams per day.
62. Stop saying “I can’t!” Explore your possibilities. Who knows what’s truly possibly unless you try?
63. Give your scalp a 2-minute scrub. Improving circulation daily to your hair follicles is a great way to keep a healthy head of hair.
64. Be realistic. “Health and Fitness are not a one-size-fits-all deal,” says Rebecca Douglas. “What works for your best friend may not be the right plan for you.”
65. Bulk up on B12. Low blood levels of B12 can lead to depression. Studies show those who suffered from the blues felt much better after taking this supplement for just 3 months.
66. Plan a week of meals. Doing so helps you keep an eye on nutrition and budget. See our story, Family Friendly Faves: Dinners on a Dime for our weeklong meal plan.
67. Go nuts. Almonds, walnuts, and pistachios contain healthy fat that slows the body’s absorption of sugar.
68. Embrace Humor. Laughing lowers stress and blood pressure.
69. Peek at your pee. If it is anything darker than pale yellow, you’re probably not drinking enough water, which can leave you feeling energy zapped.
70. Chill out. Exercising in temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees cranks up the calorie burn when your body works to regulate your core temperature.
71. Hug. It boosts oxytocin levels and serotonin, which helps keep feelings of loneliness and anger at bay.
72. Get a healthy glow. Exfoliate nightly, then alternate using rosehip oil, a natural source of retinoic acid (similar to Retin-A), and the moisture-rich, bacteria-fighting coconut oil.
73. Eat like a caveman. Focuses on high fiber fruits and veggies and ditch artificial sugars and preservatives.
74. Go green! Hot or iced, the antioxidants and caffeine inside green tea help increase the metabolic generation of heat. Enjoy a cup a few minutes before you hit the gym.
75. Move every hour. Get out of your desk chair, even it is only for five minutes each hour. Studies now link sitting to weight gain and poor heart health.
76. Live with a creative spark. Artsy endeavors outside of your day job can increase your performance at work.
77. Steam your veggies. Instead of boiling or microwaving, protect the antioxidant properties of vegetables by steaming them instead.
78. Try a little apple cider vinegar. Adding two tablespoons to water has been shown to lower blood sugar and serve as a pre-biotic, giving your gut a healthy dose of bacteria.
79. Add trace minerals. “The average American diet is extremely low in trace minerals,” says Dr. Simone Webb, DC, CFMP. These minerals are needed for every metabolic function in the body. Dr. Webb says to get your fill, add fulvic acid to your water or use a little Himalayan Salt on your food.
80. Do a kick-butt workout. High-Intensity Interval Training or short bursts of intense exercise help your body burn more calories at rest for up to 72 hours after your workout.
82. Downsize your purse. Carrying a heavy handbag can throw your body off balance and seriously hamper your posture.
83. Sharpen your brain by reading a great book.
84. Pep up with peppermint. Tame tension headaches by rubbing peppermint oil into your temples. The menthol induces relaxation and has analgesic properties.
85. Rock that playlist. Sometimes a few really good songs are just what you need to get you through a tough workout.
86. Practice the 2:1 rule. “You will want to eat 2 vegetables to 1 fruit till you get in 6-8 servings per day,” says Dr. Simone Webb. “You want the 2:1 ratio because, even though fruit offers good nutrition, they are higher in natural sugar than vegetables.”
87. Get enough protein. Protein helps you feel full longer and can stave off mindless snacking. To figure your protein needs, multiply your weight by .36 for the number of protein grams you should strive toward.
88. Get social. Studies show it reduces the risk of heart disease. People who do have heart attacks fare better if they have friends in their support system.
89. Eat the rainbow. “Fruits and vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. By aiming to eat a variety of colors each day, you are naturally getting a good mix of those vitamins and minerals,” says Registered Dietician & Nutritionist Rochelle Davies.
90. Step on the scale. Knowing your weight each week helps prevent weight from creeping on. It’s a lot easier to lose two pounds than a quickly-gained 20.
91. Get good shoes. Have a gait analysis done and invest in a pair that will help you stay healthy and injury free during your workouts.
92. Don’t drink your calories. Read the label. Some of your favorite drinks might be full of sugar and empty calories.
93. Get fat. Since the human brain is made up primarily of fats, Dr. Simone Webb says, “It is essential that you consume about 30-40% of your daily calories from good fats.” She suggests avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts. “Just watch your portions. All fats are a high calorie source, so a little goes a long way.”
94. Brown bag it. Don’t leave your lunch up to the drive through. Pack a nutritious one from home instead.
95. Create a sleep ritual. Follow a routine before bed, whether it’s enjoying a cup of herbal tea or reading a good book. Rituals signal it’s time to settle down, improving the quality of your sleep.
96. Plant Motivation. Write your favorite motivational quotes on Post-It Notes and place them around your home or office for an instant jolt of inspiration.
97. Say goodbye to dust mites. Avoid stacks of magazines, stuffed animals, or extra pillows. Dust mites love to call these places “home.”
99. Invest in hand sanitizer. It kills bacteria and most viruses when you can’t wash your hands the old fashioned way.
100. Embrace Meatless Monday. Going meatless once a week reduces your saturated fat intake and helps put the brakes on risks like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.