When people think of entering into a healthier lifestyle, they think, usually with reluctance and regret, of all the excruciating hours in the gym and all the delicious foods they’ll have to avoid. The truth is that diet and exercise is the most efficient way to improve the well-being of your mind and body, but that doesn’t mean crunches and celery are the only tools you have to becoming healthier. If you lack the time or initiative to engage in rigorous diet and exercise, you can still improve your health through these five ways.
1. Hydrate Better
This might sound like some kind of diet regimen, but drinking healthier beverages takes far less effort than maintaining a strict meal plan. While the effects of restrictive diets are rarely felt right away, you’ll be able to notice a distinct difference in your sense of well-being immediately after you begin hydrating more often and more efficiently. Here are some thirst-quenchers you should incorporate into your routine:
Water. The Mayo Clinic says that to receive the full restorative benefits of water — which includes the effective functioning of every bodily system, especially your immune system and mental state — you should consume at least nine to 13 cups every day. These cups may be other fluids, as every beverage contains water, but there are distinct benefits to fueling up on regular H2O. A tall, cold glass of water will kick up your metabolism, as your body must warm the liquid, which burns calories, before it can use it properly. Conversely, a cup of warm water will make your stomach feel full, which curbs hunger pangs.
Tea. Some studies report that some beverages with caffeine can give your metabolism a small boost, which allows you to burn more calories in short bursts throughout the day. Plus, some varieties, like green tea, are suffused with antioxidants that make your body stronger. However, be careful not to overload your drink with cream or sugar, which will negate its effects on your wellness.
2. Quit Smoking
Undoubtedly, smokers have heard this refrain since their youth, so we’ll keep this section short and sweet. Smoking even a single cigarette has a profound negative impact on your health, raising your blood pressure and filling your lungs with all sorts of toxic chemicals, from tar to rat poison. Meanwhile, studies show that going even an hour without a smoke can make your body stronger, and after 15 years away from tobacco, your lungs and heart will be as healthy as a non-smoker’s.
3. Sleep More
As it is an activity you will perform for a cumulative 26 years of your life, it should come as no surprise that the duration and quality of your sleep heavily plays into your level of health. Robbing your body of precious recuperation time prevents delicate systems from repairing and building strength. However, getting a good night’s sleep can also contribute to your efforts to lose weight in the following ways:
- Prevent snacking. The longer your body is active (read: awake) the more energy it will require to function, which is why you might notice yourself reaching for late-night snacks when you don’t get to sleep on time.
- Speed metabolism. Some studies have found that people who feel fully rested are likely to burn as much as five percent more calories after a meal than those who didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
- Focus thoughts. Sleepy minds are more likely to wander throughout the day, which means you are less likely to have control over your eating behavior when tired.
4. Smile Often
Smiling leads to happiness as much as the other way around, which means that simply by smiling, you can feel better about your life and your body. Plus, happier people tend to be healthier overall, as the absence of excessive stress hormones leads to stronger body systems.
Additionally, happiness might even contribute to weight loss efforts, as the contraction of the abdominal muscles during sincere laughter can be a workout in itself; when you feel your cheeks burn and your sides ache, you’ve laughed enough to build muscle. While millions of fitness freaks spend billions of dollars on the latest health fad, you can smile and know you are getting the same health benefits — for free.
5. Breathe Deeper
Similarly, being more relaxed will contribute to a healthier body. A few times every day, you should close your eyes, and deeply inhale and exhale from your diaphragm for about two minutes. This mini-meditation will calm your racing mind and dispel any stress that is accumulating in your muscles and veins, which saves you from all sorts of debilitating diseases, like heart conditions and weight gain. Plus, deep breathing can build strength in your lungs, which might come in handy if you ever decide to hit the gym.