Nearly half of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, but not even 10 percent follow through. And, not surprisingly, guess which goals rank highest on the list? Losing weight and getting healthy.
It’s awesome to commit to a healthy lifestyle. But, of course, that’s a lot easier said than done. Between endless meetings at work and shuttling kids to and from activities, it can be hard to find time to work out and eat nutritious foods.
So if you're aiming to live a healthier, happier life right here, right now, what can you do to land in the 8 percent who achieve the goals they set? The answer is to start small. When it comes to health and fitness, small changes daily can add up to a big difference down the road.
You might not have an hour to exercise, for example, but you probably have 10 minutes! Try one of these four things, each of which take just 10 minutes, and be on your way to a healthier you.
1. Make a nutritious breakfast
Instead of grabbing a greasy or sugar-packed breakfast on the go, or skipping it altogether, spend 10 minutes in the morning preparing a nutrient-dense meal to get your day started.
The benefits of eating a healthy breakfast are numerous. It provides essential nutrients to your body first thing, gives you a boost of energy to tackle the day, and helps to maintain a healthy body weight by curbing overeating later.
Aim for a balanced meal with a combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Eat a mix of whole grains, lean protein, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. Maybe you prefer a big breakfast, or just something light to keep you going until lunch. Either way is OK. The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding on portion size is total daily caloric needs.
No matter if you like sweet or savory, there’s something for you. Try one of these recipes for a flavorful and nutritious breakfast:
- avocado toast with smoked salmon, goat cheese, and capers
- creamy chocolate breakfast shake
- blueberry pie oatmeal
- low-calorie breakfast sandwich
2. Complete a 10-minute HIIT workout
If you’re short on time or just don’t enjoy spending hours in the gym every day, 10 minutes of exercise is better than none at all. With limited time, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a great heart-pumping option for maximum calorie burn.
HIIT refers to short rounds of intense work broken up by equally short recovery periods.
HIIT sessions stimulate a higher excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) because you consume more oxygen during them. This creates a larger calorie deficit to replace post-workout. That means you’ll be burning significantly more calories during and afterward than you would in a low- or moderate-intensity session of the same length.
Try this 10-minute HIIT workout. Complete 40 seconds of continuous work and 20 seconds of rest before going on to the next exercise:
- jumping jacks
- jumping lunges
- tricep dips
- back extensions
- jump squats
One note of caution: Pay close attention to your movements during HIIT. Because you’re going all out, you’re more prone to injury.
Mental health is just as important as the physical. Taking several minutes daily to meditate can help you destress and decompress. Studies have shown that practicing meditation may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and insomnia.
Meditation is a mind-body practice that promotes calmness and relaxation. As a beginner, it may take time to be successful, but keep trying. Start with just two to three minutes of practice, and work your way up to 10.
Follow these steps to get started:
- Find a quiet place with no distraction.
- Sit with a straight back, letting the rest of your body unwind around you.
- Start to relax yourself by breathing deeply, letting go of tension.
- Choose an object of focus such as your breath as it leaves your body or the rise and fall of your chest during breathing.
- If your mind wanders, return your focus back to the object of meditation.
Strength training and aerobic exercise are important parts of fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. But you shouldn’t neglect flexibility.
Stretching helps maintain mobility by keeping your muscles flexible and strong, maintaining range of motion in your joints. Especially if you sit for a majority of the day, stretching is vital to keeping your body functioning correctly.
Aim to stretch three to four times a week. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Warm up for 5-10 minutes before stretching, or stretch after a workout, so there is blood flowing to your muscles.
- Focus on major muscle groups, like hamstrings, quads, hips, lower back, and neck.
- Hold each stretch for 30 seconds and don’t bounce, as this can cause injury.
You can get healthier in just 10 minutes a day by incorporating small daily activities that make a difference.