We all want to live long, healthy lives. But making significant changes to our daily routines can often feel overwhelming.
Maybe that’s why diets always start “next Monday.”
But what if living healthier and longer wasn’t the result of big, seismic changes? What if, instead, you could make small tweaks to your daily routine that paid off big in the end?
Here are three easy things you can do today — and every day —to help you live longer and healthier.
Add More Plants to Your Plate
Experts agree that there’s no one perfect diet for anyone. Your body has it’s own unique genetic blueprint and individual nutritional needs. That being said, experts do agree on one aspect of a healthy diet:
Plant foods, or fruits and veggies, are chock full of beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber, and beneficial phytochemicals that your body needs to thrive.
Eating seven or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day reduces your risk of death at any point in time by 42%, according to researchers.
You can easily reach the seven (or more) benchmark by simply adding 2 to 3 plant foods to your plate at every meal.
- Add spinach, bell peppers, and mushrooms to scrambled eggs
- Start the day with a superfood smoothie or green juice
- Add a green salad and piece of fruit to your lunch
- Whip up a vegetable stir-fry or curry for dinner
Want to harness the health-supporting, anti-aging, and longevity benefits of plants?
“More than half your plate, ideally 75% of it, should be filled with veggies at every meal,” recommends Dr. Mark Hyman, MD.
Move Your Body … Even a Little Bit
How much are you moving your body each day? Are you sitting at your desk, through your kids’ sports practice or school performance, in the car, through appointments, and on the couch to unwind at the end of the day?
All of that sitting isn’t doing you any favors.
Physical inactivity is the primary cause of most chronic diseases, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Colon cancer
- Breast cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend 3 hours sweating at the gym to improve your health.
Getting less than an hour of moderate physical activity a week was associated with a 15% lower risk of death, according to one analysis.
One hour of exercise a week is a goal that anyone could reach.
But why stop there?
Researchers have found the link between exercise and disease reduction is dose-dependent; higher levels of activity further reduce the risk of premature death and chronic diseases.
How can you get some added exercise into your day today? Here are ten quick and fun ways to get more intentional movement:
- Take a walk (or two!) — bonus points if you take the dog
- Get up from your desk for intentional movement breaks during the day
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Join a group exercise class
- Make a gym date with a friend
- Go on a fitness date with your partner
- Put on some music and dance
- Unroll your yoga mat for a series of Sun Salutations
- Play! With your kids, with your pet, with your spouse
- Take a bike or a hike and explore your town
Take 5 and Breathe
Sure, you’ve heard about the numerous health benefits of meditation. But you still haven’t incorporated a meditation practice into your day.
Maybe this will be the nudge you need to stop and breathe, because…
Meditation could be the secret to a longer, healthier life.
Researchers are finding that meditation could lengthen your telomeres, the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes that shorten with age.
A 2013 review of three studies suggests meditation may slow, stall, or even reverse changes that take place in the brain due to normal aging.
And meditation has been linked to stress reduction, reduced blood pressure, decreases in oxidative stress, and more resilient mitochondria (the tiny, energy-producing structures inside cells that produce 90% of your body’s energy).
Meditation isn’t difficult. You can get all of its anti-aging benefits in only five minutes.
Sit someplace comfortable, with minimum distractions. Sit on a chair or the floor on a pillow, cushion, blanket, or yoga mat.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Close your eyes, and direct your attention to the sound and sensation of your breath as you inhale and exhale out of your nose.
- Feel your belly rise and fall as you inhale and exhale.
- Notice the feeling of air passing through your nostrils.
- Listen to the sound of your breath.
When your attention and thoughts begin to wander — “what should I cook for dinner? I wonder what my boss thought of that report? What time was mom’s doctor’s appointment tomorrow?” — just redirect your focus back to your breath.
That’s all it takes.
Schedule five minutes today to do nothing but breathe. It could be the easiest thing you do to improve your health and longevity.
Small Habits Bring Big Results
Commit to incorporating these three, easy things into your daily routine, and you may be surprised at the outcome. Because little habits compound into big results.
You don’t have to count calories, hire a trainer, or overhaul your entire life to live healthier and longer. Eat more plants, move your body, and take five mindful minutes every day, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more vibrant, and more youthful you.