7 Healthy Habits

We all wish there were more hours in the day to get everything done. But until we can find a way to slow down time, we can at least try to make better use of our days and allot a moment or two to take care of ourselves.

Here are seven important things we shouldn’t just be penciling into our schedules—but ought to be inking in permanently. The good news? None of them are too difficult.

1. Exercise

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, less than one fifth of Americans exercise every day. Considering the fact that our bodies have evolved to run down our meals, that’s not good.

Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise a day is the accepted minimum standard to reduce the risk of major diseases. It helps prevent obesity and heart disease, and it rids the body of stress.

Even if it’s going for a walk after dinner, elevating your heart rate every day can help you live better and live longer.

2. Eat a Vegetable

Okay, you’ve heard this from your mother, but she’s right. Vegetables—the fresh kind, not the deep-friend kind—contain vitamins you’re probably not getting enough of anyway.

To get the most bang for your buck, go for dark green, leafy vegetables like kale or spinach. They contain some of the highest concentrations of vitamins and minerals.

3. Drink More Water

First Lady Michelle Obama recently touted her “Drink More Water” campaign to encourage people to make one healthier life decision. "Drink just one more glass of water a day and you can make a real difference for your health, your energy, and the way you feel," she said.

While there’s no magic number of ounces you should be drinking a day, the key to knowing whether you have enough water in your system is to check the color of your urine. If it’s clear, you’re in the clear.

Dehydration can cause restless nights, headaches, dry skin, dizziness, and constipation.

Stretches to Keep You Moving

4. Stretch

Stress and tension have a not-so-fun way of bunching up our muscles, especially if you sit down at work all day. Simple stretches can keep your muscles loose, improve your circulation, and simply make you feel better.

You don’t even have to do your best impersonation of a pretzel during yoga class. 

How Getting Lost in a Book Can Make You a Better Person

5. Read Something

If you’re reading this, you’re already doing a good job. But you can do a little more to preserve your brain power for years to come.

Researchers with the American Academy of Neurology studied 294 seniors and discovered that those who participated in mentally stimulating activities in childhood and later in life had a slower rate of decline in memory and other cognitive abilities.

Whether its the latest Dave Eggers novel or one by Kate Losse, reading can improve not only your memory, but also your character.

6. Go Outside

Numerous studies have shown that being outdoors can make us healthier. It helps to reset our internal clocks and eases both short- and long-term stress.

As explained in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, exposure to nature reduces stress and can help improve a person’s attention span.

Even if you can’t make it out to the woods every day, ten minutes in the sun gives your body a boost of vitamin D and can have immediate effects on your mood.

7. Disconnect

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average child spends seven hours a day plugged into some form of media.

While some studies have shown the impact of staring at a glowing screen for hours at a time, we’re still learning about the overarching effects of modern living and portable technology. Studies have shown that excessive technology use can disrupt your sleep, not give you enough time to recover from stress, as well as make you a bit of a jerk.

Instead of answering yet another email after you read this, maybe you should put your phone down, close your laptop, and enjoy the world around you.

More on Healthline