10 Simple Daily Habits I'm Doing Right Now to Improve My Health
1. Waking up naturally.
Alarm clocks are evil! If you poll one million people if they like their alarm clocks, one million people will say no. Of course, sometimes we have to ensure we wake up at a specific time. So, for those occasions, I set an alarm to be safe.
However, the majority of the time I simply go to bed at a time that I think will allow me enough sleep to wake up naturally at the time I want to wake up. So, if I want to wake up at 4:00 AM, and I know I need seven hours of sleep, I go to bed no later than 9:00 PM.
2. Chewing my food at least 20 times before swallowing.
I've chewed my food very quickly all my life, but I recently learned that chewing your food more improves digestion, reduces gas, and allows for more nutrient absorption. However, I found this habit difficult to implement. I just wanted to chew a few times and swallow. So, I found a number that worked that's higher than what I'm doing now, but not so much that I would give up on the habit. That number is 20. Now, with each bite I take, I count to at least 20 before I swallow.
3. Balancing on one foot.
I do this daily exercise to help my balance, coordination, and leg strength. I'm a runner, and since running is basically a quick succession of one-legged stances, learning to be steady and stand strong on one foot while the other is in the air in front of me is hugely beneficial. But, this is a good habit to implement into your life even if you don't run. Do 30 seconds on each leg and watch your coordination and strength improve.
4. Meditating for 15 minutes using Insight Timer.
Insight Timer (insighttimer.com) is a free meditation app that has thousands of excellent user-created guided meditations. There's a pay version as well, but you can access a huge amount free of charge. A brief 15-minute meditation each morning and I feel refreshed and charged for the day. I recommend anything by davidji!
5. Doing the same 15-minute supplemental home-based workout every day.
I do a series of simple strength and flexibility exercises every day, which I consider supplemental to any other workout I do. It's fast and challenging, and I can do it no matter where I am in the world - so, there is no excuse to skip a day.
The workout consists of:
Front Planks with leg flutters: 1 minute
Side Planks with leg raises: 30 seconds/leg
One-legged elevated raises (use a couch, chair, or bouncy ball if you like the extra challenge): 15 reps per leg
Pushups: 50 reps
A series of static and dynamic stretches that varies each day
6. Doing dynamic stretching as well as static stretching.
Everyone knows about static stretching (getting into a stretch position and holding it for a set period), which is beneficial for muscle flexibility. However, dynamic stretching (using movement to stretch instead of holding a position) is also beneficial for increased blood flow and increased range of motion. This is an excellent way to warm up before any cardiovascular exercise, or simply to wake up the muscles and feel more awake.
7. Not crossing my legs/sitting with my legs at a 90-degree angle.
I've been a life-long leg crosser, but I recently learned that doing this can be damaging to hip strength, can cause leg strength imbalances, and could even risk injury (at least for runners like me) down the chain toward your ankles and feet. So, when I sit, I force myself to keep my feet flat on the floor and my knees at a 90-degree angle. When I get ancy to cross my legs, I take that as a cue to stand up and move around.
8. Doing fasted runs early in the morning.
This is a great way to teach your body to burn fat as fuel. By the time I start my run in the morning, I've been in a fasted state for at least 12 hours. It's not advisable to jump into long distances right away - try it for a few miles first before going any longer. Also, I never do this if I'm running for longer than two hours and/or the weather is exceptionally hot. Safety first.
9. Drinking one glass of green juice every day.
I have a juicer and I used to make these on my own, but it's such a mess to clean up and it's time-consuming. I found an excellent green juice at my local grocery store that has kale, spinach, celery, cucumber, ginger, and green apple. The apple is sweet enough to make the drink tasty, and the whole habit takes only one minute each day.
10. Keeping my earphones turned no higher than 60dB.
Several years ago, I experienced tinnitus for about six months. It was agonizing, and I pray for anyone who has to endure this experience. Very fortunately, it went away, but I'm now extra cautious about listening to anything above a certain decibel level - in particular when I'm using earphones, which I use frequently. Fortunately, the iPhone Health app allows tracking of decibel levels to let you know the noise level to which your ears have been exposed. I try to keep my average at or below 60dB.