Improving your health does require dedication, but it isn’t as hard as you might think. While there are some general rules you have all heard a thousand times like “Smoking kills!” and “Stay off sugar!” the truth is that improving health is not only about radical steps. It is about simple things that don’t require a lot of effort, but just a small amount of willpower here and there. And it is about the little tweaks and replacements that you can incorporate while doing the exact same things you do anyway but in a slightly new way. In this post, we will mention some of them, giving you ideas and motivation to incorporate some (if not all) of them into your routine. Let’s begin.
Drink More Water
Dehydration is one of the plagues of the modern human. We all do amazing things on a daily basis, moving forward both on a professional and personal level. We fill up our to-do lists with various tasks that seem important, and yet we forget the most important thing that makes us – water.
Our bodies are 60% water, and if you want to stay healthy, focused and vibrant, you need to make sure you drink enough water, throughout the day.
Start by having a water bottle next to your bed. As soon as you wake up, the first thing you should do is drink water. By doing that, you immediately rehydrate the body, which is lacking water as you were not drinking anything during the night. This will not only give you an energy boost but will also do good to your heart. When you are dehydrated, your blood is thicker, forcing the heart to work overtime. Water is a natural blood thinner, and it will relieve some pressure immediately.
But don’t stop there, you need to drink water throughout your whole day. Have a water bottle in your purse that will be with you all the time, and another one on your working desk at the office. The recommended 3.7 litres per day for men and 2.7 for women sounds like a lot, but when it’s spread out during the day, it is not that hard to reach. Oh, any liquid counts – coffee, milk, soups, it all adds up. The only exception is alcohol, which dehydrates you even further.
Go To Bed Earlier
Not getting enough sleep is similar to dehydration, as it doesn’t show much direct symptoms, but you can feel the consequences all over the body. The most obvious ones are the inability to focus, constant tiredness, mood swings.
While unwinding in front of a TV is nice, you would be better off if you would turn it off and went straight to bed. Something simple as an extra hour of sleep every night can do so much for your health.
Although sleeping seems like time wasting, an extra hour of nights sleep will give you a huge energy kick, making your whole day more productive. Your work or college performance will be noticeable, and you are likely to hit some new PRs in the weight room since sleep is the foundation stone of recovery. Even if you can’t sleep longer during the night, try taking a nap in the afternoon, that counts too.
But it is not only about the sleep duration, sleep quality also matters, which is something that is often overlooked. First, try not to eat anything two hours before bed. Limit your before-bed water intake too; you don’t want to wake up to go to the toilet at 3am. Also, it is imperative to avoid any caffeinated drinks six hours before your usual bedtime, as it can ruin your sleep quality.
It is a good idea to use earplugs, especially if you have noisy neighbours, pets, or if loud traffic is nearby. If you find them uncomfortable, a white noise machine (or a YouTube playlist) can help. As for the light pollution, you can use thick curtains or a sleep eye mask.
Lastly, reduce the room temperature, it will improve the quality of your sleep. If you don’t want to waste electrical energy on air conditioning, or the street is too noisy to keep your window open, try sleeping without sheets, and/or naked.
Take Breaks From Sitting And Stretch
While it is a good idea to sign up for a yoga class, we are talking about something much simpler – stand up from your desk from time to time. Sitting is ruining our bodies, and you are probably hunched over your phone right now as you read this article. Our bodies are not designed for constant sitting, for hours and hours. Even if you visit the gym regularly, that is only an hour a day, every other day. Not enough when you compare it to eight hours of sitting at your office desk, and then three more hours at home while watching TV or scrolling down the Instagram feed.
While you can’t just quit your job because you are sitting all day, there are things you can do to counter its adverse effects.
If possible, opt for a standing desk. Standing up is so much more natural than slouching in an office chair, and it will do wonders for your spine.
If that is not an option, set up a Pomodoro timer. Every 25 minutes when it rings, stand up, and take a five-minute break. Use it to stretch – your pecs, hamstrings, hip flexors and thoracic extensors shorten the most when you sit all day, so focus on those muscles. Use the break to go to the fountain and drink a glass of water. That will help you meet your daily water intake goals too.
Pomodoro breaks will do wonders for your productivity too – you will keep the sharpness throughout the working hours, preventing overburn.
Embrace The Giant Set
It’s time to try giant sets. This advice is for people who are already visiting the gym. Those of you who aren’t, what are you waiting for?!
Look, we know, “bro” splits work excellent for making your biceps and pecs bigger. And while there is nothing unhealthy about having big guns, on the contrary, there is a much better way you can spend your gym hour, and that is by doing giant sets.
You can still do the same exercises, but with a slight tweak. Instead of doing all sets of an exercise before switching to the next one, do one set of each exercise, one after the other, without pause in between. You will rest only after you finish the whole cycle of exercises, between two giant sets.
By doing this, you will keep your heart rate racing throughout the whole giant set which is excellent for fat loss, endurance, and much better for overall health than a regular set-rest-set-rest scheme. What’s more, it will cut your workout time in half, since there is no rest between exercises or sets, only after each cycle. So no more excuses on how you don’t have time to get to the gym!
Do Some Tests
You can’t manage what you don’t measure. You need to start tracking things. Start simple, one day every week, stepping on a scale just after waking up. While you’re there, grab a tape measure and read your waist circumference. Write those numbers down and do the same every week. Measuring your weight doesn’t tell the whole truth, as you can lose muscle and water instead of fat. Waist circumference explains a lot about your overall health – a waist wider than 40 inches for men, and 35 inches for women is directly linked to health risks like diabetes, hypertension and various cardiovascular issues.
But scales and tape measures don’t give you precise information about your body composition, for that you will need something like a DEXA scan. Doing that will tell you the exact amount of body fat you carry, but also your bone density, muscle mass, and other useful information that will give you a better idea what needs to be changed. And you will know exactly if you are losing/gaining fat or muscle.
These procedures are now much more affordable than they used to be, which puts them within reach of the ordinary people – they are no longer a luxury of professional athletes.
If you want to go a step further, do blood tests every three months, and show your doctor the results. If there is something out of the ordinary, he/she will advise you what you need to change, probably regarding your diet.
As you can see, we didn’t lie in the intro, all of our five steps are easy to do and follow. Drink water as soon as you wake up, take breaks from sitting every 25 minutes, go to bed a bit earlier, try doing giant sets, and get a DEXA scan – nothing too difficult to do. But, if you do it regularly, it can help you feel much better and become healthier. Your only job is to try it, and share with us how it feels.