Some people swear that they’re going to get in shape and immediately take radical steps. They adopt a rigorous diet and undertake an ambitious exercise program. Few people stick with such a regimen for the long run.
On the other hand, if you make small and gradual changes, you’re more likely to sustain them. They will make you happier and are more likely to lead to long-term success. Here are five to consider.
1. Make a Habit of Walking
A 10- or 20-minute walk after dinner won’t solve all your problems, but it will make you feel better. Also, you can work an extra minute or two of walking into your daily routine here and there. For example, park farther from the store entrance. If you work in an office, don’t use the closest restroom. Even 20 minutes a day, if you do nothing else, will lead to a 10-pound weight loss over a year.
2. Use Stairs
Resolve not to use an elevator if you’re going up one flight or down two. At home, walk up and down the stairs even when you don’t need to. A few extra reps during the day, every day, leads to significant calorie burn, as well as improved muscular health, over the long haul.
3. Replace Soda Pop with Carbonated Water
You may have already switched from sugared pop to diet. While you’ve eliminated some calories, diet soda isn’t good for you, either. Research suggests that it may even increase your appetite for unhealthy foods.
Buy bottled soda water or use a carbonating machine. You can enhance the flavor by adding a twist of lime or even dropping a slice of peach or some smushed berries into the glass.
4. Get More Sleep
Modern people are perpetually tired. For many of us, it’s a badge of honor how hard we work and how little we sleep. Yet sleep is the “third leg” of a healthy lifestyle along with diet and exercise. Make a point of going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier. If your lifestyle allows it, sneak in a 10- to 20-minute nap in the afternoon. As with diet and exercise, it doesn’t take a big change to make a difference you can start to notice.
5. Take a Break from Your Electronic Devices
Set aside some daily time to shut off your phone, your tablet and your TV. The hour before you go to bed is ideal for this. It will improve your sleep and reduce your stress level. The world wants you to be constantly available, but ignore the world and think of this as your time.
You don’t have to grit your teeth and harness all your willpower to improve your health. If you adopt a few small changes, you’re more likely to feel better six months from now than if you try to change everything all at once.