10 Small Things You Can Do Today to Get Healthy

  • Woman with broccoli
    How to Get Healthy
    You don’t need to take drastic measures to get healthy. In fact, small lifestyle changes are more effective, over time, than sudden shifts in eating or exercise habits. Taking one small step today is far less overwhelming than overhauling your diet or activity plan, and probably more impactful than you think. A few minutes of sunshine or physical activity can make a big difference in your mood and overall well-being—and that kind of positive feedback can reinforce healthy habits.

    Try one of these “small things” today.
  • smiling senior woman with backpack hiking outdoors
    1. Go outside
    AA 2019 study found that people who spend two hours per week in green spaces—local parks or other natural environments—are more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than people who spend less time in nature. It doesn’t matter if the two hours are all at once or spread out over several short excursions; time in nature can lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, improve mood, and enhance immune system function.
  • senior men playing paddleball or pickle ball on court
    2. Move your body
    We all know that exercise is linked to good health. But you don’t need to run a marathon or head to the gym to get the benefits of physical activity. Any sort of bodily movement can boost mood and enhance flexibility and strength. Simply getting up from your desk chair and going for a five-minute walk can increase circulation and creativity. Dancing in your kitchen and gardening (or dancing in your garden!) are also beneficial. Health experts recommend 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) of moderate activity each week and you hit that target by moving approximately 10 minutes every morning and evening.
  • walking-outdoors-mother-daughter
    3. Get friendly
    Social interaction wards off depression and stress, according to Mayo Clinic, and may promote brain health and prevent untimely death. (Socially isolated adults are nearly 2.5 times more likely to die of heart disease, and numerous studies have linked healthy social ties with physical well-being.)

    Want to knock three things off this list at once? Call a friend and ask them to go for a walk with you at a local park.
  • father and son doing puzzle
    4. Crosstrain your brain
    Intellectual stimulation helps our brains stay sharp. You don’t need to spring for a specially designed brain training program, either. Reading is great stimulation for the brain, and problem-solving activities, such as piecing together a puzzle or working a crossword, also exercise the brain. Creative pursuits, including arts and crafts and music-making, are good for the brain as well.

    Instead of switching on the TV or scrolling social media immediately after dinner, engage in five minutes of learning, problem-solving, or creativity.
  • basket of vegetables and fruit
    5. Add fruit or veggies to your meals
    Overhauling your diet is intimidating. If you’re like most people, you know you should eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (and less fatty and processed foods), but your daily eating habits don’t necessarily reflect that knowledge. You can immediately boost your health by adding a bit of produce to each meal. Consider adding some raisins or dates to your morning oatmeal, or spinach to scrambled eggs. Pile some romaine lettuce on your sandwich or enjoy a piece of fruit before or after dinner.
  • man-sleeping-on-side
    6. Prioritize sleep
    Many adults (and children!) do not get enough sleep, which increases their risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Lack of sleep can decrease immunity and creativity as well, so some extra time in bed can actually increase your productivity. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night for adults and 8 to 10 hours per night for teenagers. Try turning off your phone and turning in a half hour earlier than usual.
  • Close-up of African American woman meditating with eyes closed
    7. De-stress
    Chronic stress can negatively affect your immune, digestive and cardiovascular systems. You can’t avoid stress entirely, but you can take steps to release it. Meditating for as little as 1 to 2 minutes may decrease blood pressure and promote feelings of calm. (You can simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing, or you can use one of the many available meditation apps.) Laughing is another effective stress-reliever, so put on your favorite comedy or get silly with your kids or friends.
  • Doctor with Male Patient
    8. Schedule a health appointment
    Regular physicals and health screenings (such as mammograms and colonoscopies) are key to a healthy life, but many of us forget to make time for them. If it’s been a year or so since your last physical, call your healthcare provider and schedule an appointment. Don’t neglect your dental health or vision either. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your teeth or eyes checked, pick up the phone today.

    Concerned about the cost? Contact your local health department, which may be able to point you toward low-cost options in your community.
  • mature man practicing yoga in bedroom, standing on one leg
    9: Stand on one foot
    Balance is increasingly important as we age. Balance training exercises can decrease the risk of falls—and the injuries that often accompany them. Yoga and tai chi, a gentle Chinese martial art, both promote balance, but you don’t need to take classes or devote a half hour or more toward bettering your balance. Simply standing on one foot for a few moments each day—increasing time as you are able—can increase coordination and improve health. (At first, you may need to hold onto a chair, counter or railing for support.)
  • Hands of unseen person playing piano
    10. Make music
    Making music is good for the mind and body. Research has shown that singing can improve breathing and posture and decrease muscle tension. Playing an instrument promotes concentration, well-being, and cognitive function, and can help individuals express and release emotions. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, listening to music can reduce anxiety, blood pressure, and pain, and improve sleep, mood, mental alertness, and memory. Cue up your favorite tunes and sing along!
10 Small Things You Can Do Today to Get Healthy

About The Author

Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a Registered Nurse-turned-writer. She’s also the creator of BuildingBoys.net and co-creator/co-host of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men.
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 19
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