When people think about making health changes, they often focus on big changes – things like losing 50 pounds or running a marathon. While it may seem like bigger changes are the best way to see major results, it’s actually smaller changes that have the most positive impact on your health.
That’s because small changes are easier to incorporate into your daily routine. It takes 21 days to create a habit. Once a habit is formed, changes aren’t as difficult to maintain. When you start consistently doing something, that’s when you’ll see results – and seeing results will motivate you to make even more small changes.
Here are eight small changes you can make that will have a big impact on your health:
- Start and end the day with five minutes of meditation or deep breathing to de-stress.
- Move more throughout the day. For example, take a quick walk every hour, park further away, take the stairs when possible or start an active hobby, like dancing.
- Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine. This will help you build muscle and burn more calories throughout the day.
- Eat breakfast to kick-start your metabolism and eat healthy snacks throughout the day. Items such as fruit, nuts, string cheese or pretzels are great options because they are low in calories and high in nutrition.
- Drink a glass of water before each meal for improved hydration. It can also help you feel fuller so you’re less likely to overindulge during your meals.
- Track your food and exercise. Although this can be tedious at first, it will get easier once you get the hang of it. Over time, you’ll start noticing patterns and find ways to improve.
- Establish a sleep schedule and stick with it. Aim for 7-9 hours per night and go to bed and wake up at the same time, every day.
- Practice good posture and sit up straight to help avoid back pain.
Depending on the types of changes you make, you could start seeing physical, mental and emotional benefits within one week. You might notice your body is becoming leaner or more toned or you might have more energy. You might also see clearer skin or improved self-esteem. Over time, you’ll notice even bigger health benefits, such as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as a lower risk for health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis.
Edward-Elmhurst Health can help you make health changes, big or small. Our primary care providers want to play a role in helping you live healthier and happier. We can provide resources and connect you with other medical specialists who can assist you on your journey toward improved health.