51 Brilliant Health Tricks You’ll Want to Make a Habit
Add just a few of these simple healthy habits to your daily routine, and see how much better you’ll feel about your energy, weight, mood, and more.
Eat your meals at the same time every day
One of our biggest stressors is not finances or marriage but the lack of a regular routine, says oncologist David B. Agus, MD, in his book The End of Illness. Even simply eating lunch an hour later than usual can spike levels of the stress hormone cortisol and disrupt your body’s ideal state. Try to eat, sleep, and exercise at the same time every day, 365 days a year.
Pack your suitcase on your bed
Don’t fill your luggage on the floor. Leaning down puts stress on your back, notes spine orthopedic surgeon Gerard J. Girasole, coauthor with Cara Hartman of the book The 7-Minute Back Pain Solution. Instead, pack your luggage atop a towel-draped bed or table so you’re not bending over as much, thereby avoiding one of the everyday habits that give you back pain.
Read away stress
A good read can lower levels of unhealthy stress hormones such as cortisol. Participants in a British study engaged in an anxiety-provoking activity and then either read for a few minutes, listened to music, or played video games. Reading was 68 percent better at reducing stress levels than listening to music. And a little bit of reading goes a long way— six minutes of reading reduces stress levels by 67 percent.
Curse pain goodbye
You’ll feel better if you let loose with some profanity after you whack your funny bone. U.K. researchers found that participants who repeated a swear word could keep their hands in freezing water longer than those who repeated a non-curse word. One caveat: The trick works better if you’re not a regular potty mouth. If you find that hard to believe, here are some more unusual things doctors do to relieve pain.
Stand up (now!)
When you sit for long stretches, triglycerides increase, good cholesterol drops, and your body becomes inflamed, which creates a perfect storm for a heart attack or stroke. Luckily, sitting too long is one of the stroke risk factors you can actually control.
Downsize your meat portion
Is meat good or bad for you? While the debate rages on, steak lovers can indulge with less guilt simply by eating a more reasonable helping. The perfect meat portion is three ounces (about the size of a deck of cards), which is A LOT smaller than many restaurant portions. Cutting back on meat will help protect you from the things that happen to your body when you eat too much meat, too.
Cook one more meal per week at home
Research in the journal Public Health Nutrition that found that people who cooked at home five times a week were nearly 50 percent more likely to be alive after ten years than those who steered clear of the kitchen. The benefits aren’t just from eating healthier but also from grocery shopping, following a recipe, and preparing food, which help your brain develop new connections. Swap out one night of takeout for an easy go-to recipe, then gradually add more recipes/meals to your repertoire over time.
Steer clear of coughers and sneezers
“Most germs are spread by droplets; talking and sneezing produce droplets that fall within a six-foot range,” says Michael Pentella, PhD, clinical associate professor at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. During cold and flu season, he tries to stay three feet away from people who are visibly ill, one of the helpful ways doctors avoid catching cold and flu.
Drink this before driving
Mild dehydration may increase driver inattention and compromise safety as much as alcohol does. A small Loughborough University study tracked men during two simulated driving tests. In one test, they drank large amounts of water the day before and the day of the test. In another, they had limited water both days. When dehydrated, the men made 101 minor driving errors (comparable to a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent) but only 47 errors when hydrated.