Life is hectic. We work hard, we play hard, we work hard again…it can be exhausting. The dangers of living this way are vast and varied, ranging from tiredness to anxiety, all the way to heart disease. It’s time we took a moment to focus on ourselves.
Easier said than done? That’s why we asked our experts for some quick and easy life hacks to help turn your health around.
Nuffield Health’s Professional Head of Physiology, Jay Brewer, Deputy Medical Director Auldric Ratajczak and Personal Trainers Sara Nankivell, Tan Quddus and Katie Stephenson provided the following tips:
Turn everyday activities into light exercises:
- Walk to your destination: Save money, reduce stress and get some exercise by getting off the bus or tube one or two stops early. (It’ll only get stuck in traffic anyway!)
- Choose stairs over escalators: Taking the stairs may only burn 10–15 calories every two minutes, but over the course of a month, this can build up to something significant. Not to mention the additional benefit of giving your muscles, heart and lungs a workout.
- Stand on one foot whilst brushing your teeth: The instability will engage your core muscles and give your abs a bonus workout.
- Having more sex is good for your heart: When you’re aroused, your heart rate increases and some studies have shown that having an orgasm provides the same heart rate as a light exercise. Add in some acrobatic moves and you’re onto a fitness winner.
- Stand for 30 minutes after lunch to reduce glucose spikes: Studies have shown that both eating and sitting for long periods can cause glucose spikes, making you feel tired and sluggish.
Swap screen time with meditation:
- Put your phone in a 'spa' (a box) for an hour per day and talk to your family: Conversations with loved ones will not only support the closeness of your relationships but is a great way to talk through your day and resolve any issues you may have had. Sometimes just saying it out loud makes problems disappear.
- Get a white noise app: Download the app on your phone and plug it in when you’re trying to focus in a busy office. The 'productivity blinkers’ will reduce noise and stress with it.
- Have a TV-free night to catch up on productivity and relaxation: It’s easy to slouch on the couch, but completing your chores can be great exercise and help to clear your mind.
- Meditate daily: Take two minutes every day to sit in silence and concentrate on your breathing. With this mindfulness task, you’ll feel more in tune with your body and start to disconnect from the silliness of life.
- Practice acceptance: Learning to not judge yourself, or others too harshly will allow you to move your mind on from situations faster, leaving you the head space to focus on more productive endeavours. Be mindful of when a situation has frustrated you, breathe out, and let it go.
Limit salt and alcohol consumption:
- Swap olive oil for coconut oil: When frying, coconut oil has a higher smoke point, the temperature at which potentially toxic compounds form.
- Swap seasoning for flavour: Replace salt with spices like chilli or curry powder to add a bit of oomph to your food without the blood pressure-raising saltiness.
- Swap higher-strength wine and beer for 1% lower ABV (strength): Alcohol is a toxin, poisonous to our bodies, so reducing the percentage we drink can make a big difference to our health. If you feel you can't live without it – why not swap your cocktail completely in favour of a mocktail?
- Dry roast your vegetables: Don’t give up on vegetables if you’re finding boiling a bore, dry roast your veg instead. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade, prepare your veggies and throw them in a roasting tin with NO oil…shove them in the oven, stir a couple of times as they cook and 20 minutes later, they’re ready.
- Swap black tea for green tea: Green tea is bursting with antioxidants, which help prevent cell damage, and is naturally low in caffeine, which can increase blood pressure.
Stay hydrated and increase your vitamin intake:
- Consume food stored with natural vitamins: Vitamin D and cod liver oil will boost your energy levels if you have them every day. Get your vitamin D from eggs and mushrooms.
- Eat a handful of olives every day: They act similarly to aspirin in reducing inflammation and artery plaque formation, but they taste way better.
- Add cinnamon to your morning porridge, smoothie, yoghurt – even eggs: Cinnamon has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels keeping energy levels more stable which may also help to combat sweet cravings.
- Drink two litres of fluid daily: This will stop us from getting dehydrated, which could lead to many problems including dizziness and poor circulation. If you find water a bit dull, why not spice it up by adding lemons, limes, cucumber, apples or cinnamon (not necessarily all together) to encourage you to drink more - refill your bottle throughout the day without the need to refresh the 'infusion'.
- Eat more lemons: Just one lemon has your entire daily recommended dose of vitamin C which helps to fend off illness – try adding it to your green tea to boost the absorption of antioxidants by as much as 80 percent.
Getting active is something many of us try to do to help improve our fitness. But, we can face difficulties when sticking with this habit. Professor Ben Kelly, Head of Clinical Research has five easy tips to help get you moving and improve your health.
Last updated Friday 27 January 2023
First published on Friday 19 June 2015