For many parents — especially those with small children — staying healthy consists of drinking more coffee in the morning to “feel” more rested, popping a multivitamin now and then, and looking at the floss in your medicine cabinet twice a day. After all, you’re busy with your job, kids, maintaining the house, and trying to find a minute to get to the grocery store — how in the world are you supposed to also find the time to indulge in any true commitment to improving your health?
Far too many people settle for a status quo approach to health and assume they can hold steady until they get a little more free time in their days. Of course, that fabled time rarely emerges, which is why it’s important to work to improve your health — at least in a few small ways — even when time feels like it’s running in the red. Here are some small ways you can improve your health, each of which will take you less than 10 minutes a day.
It’s a rare person who flosses as much as her dentist would like her to, and an even rarer person who enjoys doing so. That being said, flossing is still one of the most important ways you can improve your health, and it takes precious little time. Far from just being an extra bonus in the healthy gum, tooth, and mouth arena, according to WebMD, flossing actually does about 40 percent of the heavy lifting that removes plaque and bacteria from teeth so that the acid that causes cavities and gum disease is kept at bay. So give up an extra five minutes and embark on a daily flossing regimen. Not only will you please your dentist, but you’ll be setting a great example for your children, too.
2. Hydrate More
Most of us have heard the adage, “Drink more water,” so many times we can effectively tune it out whenever it’s mentioned, but being well-hydrated has a plethora of health benefits, and it requires very little time and effort. We need water for nearly every one of our bodies’ processes from digestion to respiration, and being short on the wet stuff can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, and constipation.
Many people find drinking plain water gets a bit dull, but it’s important to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and energy drinks, which can work against your hydration quest. If you find yourself getting bored with H2O, try herbal teas. From bright, refreshing organic parsley leaf tea to deep and earthy rooibos, you’re bound to find plenty of delicious flavors to help you enjoy drinking upwards of eight glasses of water each day.
3. Hug It Out
Positive physical touch can go a long way in improving your health, mood, and relationships, which is why you should make a daily commitment to set aside more time to hug your partner and your kids. Simply hugging the ones we love — so long as they want to be hugged — releases the powerful hormone oxytocin, which can help ward off depression. So hug it out! It feels good, and it will help protect you from mental illness.
4. Take a Short, Brisk Walk — Outside Beneath the Trees
A short, 10-minute walk will improve heart health, boost your mood, and improve your energy, but if you do it among the lushness of the natural world, you’ll benefit even more.
Because plants and trees are continually transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen, taking a short walk amongst the trees will supply you with vibrant, more fully oxygenated air, which can improve respiration, assist your immune system in fighting off bacteria and viruses, and maybe even prevent some types of cancer.
5. Eat an Apple
According to researchers at the University of Iowa, mice that ingested apples each day were able to maintain muscle and ward off obesity better than mice with a diet that omitted the popular fruit. Apple peels are full of ursolic acid, a protein that protects against muscle breakdown, and because muscle burns more calories than fat, the simple five-minute act of eating an apple each day can keep you at a healthier weight. Better yet, eat that apple for breakfast, and improve your health even more. People who skip breakfast can suffer from low blood sugar, which can lead to grumpiness, lethargy, and a tendency to overeat once lunch rolls around.
Improving your health doesn’t have to require massive amounts of time or gargantuan efforts. Simple, quick choices like drinking a glass of herbal tea, eating an apple, and hugging a loved one are all you need to start down the road toward better health.