Vincent van Gogh once said: “great things are done by a series of small things brought together”. This is very true when it comes to your health. Making small, positive changes in your life can have a powerful effect on how you look and feel – and the best part is, you will hardly even notice you’re doing it.
Here are five small things you can tweak in your day, recommended by Sam Merza, the National Fitness Manager at Genesis Health + Fitness. Your mind and your body will thank you, especially if you can keep them up!
“Sometimes your health and wellbeing can feel overwhelming – there is a lot of information out there and we also have a lot going on in our daily lives that sometimes distracts from the time and attention we give our own minds and bodies,” said Sam.
“I’m often reminding members that it’s their ongoing daily routine and go-to micro habits that make the most profound difference. It’s the little things that add up and affect how happy and well you feel – and the great news is, small things are much easier to sustain over the long-term.”
“So, focus on the small things you can easily change today and watch what a cumulative difference they make in your life.”
1. Move/stretch when you first wake up
There is good reason why a stretch and a yawn is almost instinctive upon waking, even for cats and dogs. If you want to reduce soreness and start your day on the right trajectory, then do a few stretches and mobility exercises as soon as you get out of bed; think arm circles, gentle twisting at the waist, stretching tall, cat/cows etc. This only needs to take 30 seconds, but you will relax and align your muscles and encourage good posture from the outset, starting the day right. It also helps your circulation, gently getting your blood flowing after a night’s sleep.
2. Take 3 deep breaths before every meal
Getting air deep into your lungs take conscious effort and it has the power to change your physical, mental and emotional state. It can help ease stress and make you feel more relaxed, improve your concentration, reduce your blood pressure and help regulate other critical processes in your body. Breathe deeply into your belly, hold for three seconds, release slowly and then repeat two more times. Pick three times during the day where you can do this. Before a meal is a great opportunity, as it provides the added bonus of slowing you down and helping you eat more consciously.
3. Set a timer and don’t sit for longer than 30 mins.
Simple. Sitting for too long puts strain on your body, spine and increases your risk of chronic health problems – so stand up! Every 30 minutes, make a phone call and wander around the room. Walk outside for a quick break. Go and make yourself a cup of tea. You will be so surprised and how much looser and relaxed you feel at the end of the day.
4. Drink more water.
So simple but so important as it assists you physically and mentally. Start with a glass of water first thing in the morning. Drink two or three glasses between meals and carry a water bottle with you throughout the day so you have easy access.
5. Redefine exercise.
This one is all in your head initially, and it will then change the way you approach exercise moving forward. Exercise doesn’t have to be a ‘formal’ activity, nor does it have to go for a one-hour duration. Redefine exercise as physical activity – anything that gets your body moving that you can jam into small moments through your day, no matter how small; a walk to the shops, a jog up the stairs, a quick 20-minute gym visit. Change the way you define exercise and you’ll find you actually fit more activity into your week AND feel more positive and less guilty about it. It’s important to still get your heart rate up a few times a week with a vigorous activity.
By getting the small wins each day, it makes building habits that much easier. Start small, stay positive and keep it up.