January is a time for fresh starts, when people everywhere resolve to better themselves in the coming year.
Losing weight and getting fit are always go-to resolutions, but joining a gym and going on a diet typically involve drastic lifestyle changes. Unless you’re fully committed to your health, sticking with these broad goals can prove difficult. But getting healthy doesn’t have to be so hard. Here are five easy ways to improve your health in five minutes or less.
• Take the stairs. According to Harvard Medical School, stair climbing is an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. Walking up stairs burns calories up to three times faster than walking at a quicker pace on a normal surface.
• Stretch out. Flexibility is a critical component of physical fitness. Flexible muscles improve your daily performance by helping you maintain balance and coordination.
“Stretching keeps your muscles and joints flexible and improves range of motion,” says Joy Schiller, wellness director at Des Moines University. “It’s also a great stress reliever since tense, tight muscles often accompany stress.”
• Read a food label. Understanding what’s in the food you eat is important in maintaining a healthy weight. Taking the time to scan the label before you eat can help you make wiser food choices and save you from accidentally consuming too many calories or too much fat.
• Drink a glass of water. The human body is 60 percent water, so hydration is important in keeping the body functioning properly. It’s also a secret weapon in weight loss.
“Water is the best negative calorie food there is,” Schiller says. “If you drink a glass before a meal, your stomach will be more full so you’ll eat less and lose weight.”
• Eat a vegetable. A balanced, healthy diet is rich in fruits and veggies. Vegetables provide vital nutrients to the body and are proven to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
“Substitute a cup of low calorie veggies for some other high calorie food,” advises Schiller. “It’s good for you and will make you feel healthy and energized.”
Healthy living starts with small changes to your lifestyle. Taking just five minutes to perform one of these simple tasks will get you on your way to a happy and healthy 2013. n
Information provided by Des Moines University Clinic, 3200 Grand Ave., 271-1700.