As a personal trainer, I’m a huge believer in advocating for sustainable, accessible habits that can impact everyone. I once knew a fellow health professional that said, “One’s health advice is only as good as the adherence to it”. Ever since hearing that quote, I’ve been committed to finding the best barrier-free solutions to a better existence.
Today I want to share 3 of those habits that have impacted me, along with many of my client’s lives. While some aspects of wellness living never come ‘easy’, such as consistent exercise and nutrition, there are several no-brainers to implement into your every day. Due to the little effort it takes to begin these habits, you’ll be sure to hang onto them for the long haul. Better yet, each one is so impactful that it can improve your life starting right now!
3 Habits To Pick Up Today
While these lifestyle shifts are subtle, I do want to still emphasize the importance of checking in with your health professional. If you’re ever moving towards larger lifestyle changes, ensure that the pros outweigh the cons. This is especially important for those with chronic conditions and complications around medications. I’ve seen far too many clients suffer because they don’t keep a close dialogue with their health professionals, so please take this seriously!
Fortunately, for these tips below, you should have no problem implementing them today! If you know that you struggle with adhering to even the simplest healthy habits, I have a fool-proof guide to success for you here. Without further ado, let’s dive into 3 new ways to improve your day-to-day!
1) Become Allergic to Long-Term Sitting
Sitting is the new smoking. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Although it’s a bold (and slightly dated) claim, it rings true in many aspects. Sedentary behavior has plagued humankind for years. Unfortunately, it goes far beyond the bounds of slipping into a ‘lazy’ or ‘apathetic’ society. Ploeg et al. have linked excessive sitting to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. The global cost of physical inactivity is sitting at a jarring $68 billion per year.
The easiest anti-dote to sedentary behavior is to set boundaries. Every time you’re sitting or lying down, simply set a 30-minute timer (this takes 3 seconds to do). When that timer goes off, take a few moments to adjust your position and stand up. Even the subtlest shifts can decrease the stiffness of your joints by encouraging better disc fluid circulation. If you commit to consistently adhering to this habit, you will notice a huge improvement in back pain and overall stiffness.
2) Drink Water Before Anything Else
Believe it or not, 75% of Americans are in a state of dehydration. While there are some infrastructural barriers to water access in North America, the main barrier is a lack of education. Sadly, the importance of hydration is often overlooked. The best way to turn this ship around is to start setting the tone for your day with a tall glass of water. Better yet, have it set on your bedside table the night before so you have no excuses to follow through with this habit.
If you’re curious about proper hydration, these guidelines on water consumption are a great starting point. The consensus is that men should drink 12–13 cups per day, and women should drink 8–9 cups per day. Of course, this is an oversimplification as everyone’s physiology, diets, and environments are different. My best advice is to drink first thing in the morning, carry a water bottle with you, and do the ‘pee test’ every time you urinate. The goal is to always maintain a clear color. Get drinking!
3) Start a 2-Minute Mobility Routine
As a practicing kinesiologist, I’m a huge believer in mobility training for all populations. If you want to reduce stiffness and feel young for longer, commit to moving your body a little bit each day. This is so incredibly easy, yet so many forgo this habit. To make this ultra-simple, here are 3 exercises for you to try with clear cues. Move through each exercise for about 45 seconds before moving on to the next. Throughout each movement, prioritize long, deep breaths to relax the body and get the most out of the program. If you’re looking for more exercises to add, please refer to my guide here.
1) Cat Cows
Cues: 10 reps. Set yourself up in a comfortable quadruped position. On inhale, elevate the mid-spine and lower your neck. On exhale, depress mid-spine and raise neck. Strive for as much pelvic and shoulder blade movement as possible!
2) Leg Window Wipers
Cues: 5 reps / side. Staying upright through the trunk, slowly fan the legs over and back. Ensure that the knees stay at approximately 90d of flexion. Use your hands for support as needed. The goal here is to keep the heels pivoting on the floor so that you’re truly isolating at the hips. If you’re not feeling challenged, add a hip hinge to the end of each rep by lowering the chest towards the front knee. The more upright you can be through the trunk the better!
3) Toe Touch Squat-to-Stand
Cues: 10 reps. Begin by hinging at the hips and lowering the arms to the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t touch your toes, just do your best. Next drop into a squat by bending the knees, lowering the hips, and raising the chest/head. Rest at the bottom of your deep squat for one to two seconds and then extend up to a standing position.
Bonus (Slightly More Challenging) Habits:
Hide your phone before bed and use a normal alarm clock set to the same time each day.
Try to get outside for 30 minutes every day. The benefits of walking or running outdoors cannot be overlooked, especially when looking at the mental health advantages.
Take a 10-second cold shower every morning. Although there are some scientific benefits, a large portion of the gains comes from ‘overcoming inertia’ and stepping outside of your comfort zone first thing.
Some of the most powerful lifestyle shifts are also the easiest. It’s all about making subtle, sustainable changes that will be a game-changer both today and in the long run. If you feel overwhelmed about where to start when striving for healthier living, you’ve come to the right place! The 3 habits above take less than 5 minutes per day to complete, but they can instantly upgrade your health and wellness.
Why not get started right now?