Despite record high obesity rates in the US, the vast majority of us like to think we’re pretty healthy. In fact, three-quarters of Americans claim they stick to a healthy diet.
But are we being honest with ourselves, or are we in complete and utter denial?
Unfortunately, it’s clearly the latter. Research shows that only 3% of us (or roughly 7,359,000 American adults) actually lead a healthy lifestyle. In reality, less than a quarter of us consume enough fruits and veggies or get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
But if you’re one of the few people who truly strive to be healthy, chances are you’re always on the lookout for the newest and most effective health hacks. And if you’re new to health and fitness, it’s always a good idea to get ahead of the game.
Let’s take a quick look at 6 simple health hacks you can start taking advantage of today!
Lights Out After Sundown
Imagine the following scenario: You plan to go to bed at 10 PM. But you whip out your phone and end up binge watching YouTube videos for an hour and a half instead. Next thing you know, you’re not in the mood to sleep whatsoever, until you pass out at 2 AM.
Sure, the cat videos were mildly entertaining, but was it worth it?
Not at all, because the blue light emitted by your phone negatively impacts your circadian rhythm. It makes you more alert and prevents you from falling asleep by tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
You can avoid this altogether by turning off your electronics about half an hour before you plan to hit the hay. This gives your mind a chance to slow down, and you’ll end up sleeping better as a result.
If you want to monitor your sleep quality, try wearing a fitness tracker. They have a sleep tracking feature that shows how much time you spend in each stage of sleep.
Say No to Elevators
The D.A.R.E. Program taught us how to make better life decisions when it comes to drugs. But you’ll have to learn on your own how to resist taking the elevator.
Of course, elevators are convenient. But once you’re privy to what you’re missing out on when riding in an elevator, you’ll make sure to choose the stairs every time.
Why take the stairs?
The average person burns just over 20 calories during a two-minute trek up a staircase. While that doesn’t seem like much, it adds up over time.
Let’s say you have to spend four minutes per day going up and down the staircase at your job. This burns roughly 42 calories in total. Since there are about 262 workdays per year, you burn an extra 10,500 calories (about 3 lbs. of fat) in a work year by taking the stairs.
Treat Yourself with Dark Chocolate
Yes, dark chocolate can taste bitter. And, yes, it’s nowhere near as sweet as a Kit Kat bar or a Snickers.
However, it offers many more potential health benefits.
For example, 100 grams of a dark chocolate bar has nearly 70% of your daily iron and 98% of your recommended manganese, among many other minerals. On top of that, it’s also chock-full of potent antioxidants (more so than green tea or red wine).
If you’re going to treat yourself to something sweet, and you’re not in the mood for fruit, opt for a dark chocolate bar. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to the bitter taste–we hope.
Just keep this in mind: the higher the cocoa content, the better it is for your health.
Floss like Your Life Depends on It
If you think you can substitute rinsing with mouthwash for flossing, you’re dead wrong. Neither your toothbrush or mouthwash can scrub between your teeth like floss.
Flossing regularly helps reduce your chances of developing gum disease. Individuals who have gum disease are more likely to end up with heart disease, which kills more Americans than anything else. Therefore, flossing may actually contribute to prolonging your life.
It’s still unknown whether the link between gum disease and heart disease is causal. But it’s a good idea to play it safe. After all, flossing a few times a day won’t take up more than 10 minutes of your time.
Eat Your Meals Within an 8-Hour Window
You’re probably asking, “Why in the world would I want to do that?”
Before receiving an answer to that question, you should first learn the name of this not-so-secret health hack. This gives you a chance to do your own research.
Experts refer to this dieting strategy as intermittent fasting. The way it works is simple: you finish eating your meals and snacks in 8 hours, and then you fast for the next 16 hours.
Despite what you may think, it’s not some new hippy-dippy bro-science fad. It offers tangible benefits, including the following:
- Lower insulin levels
- Higher human growth hormone (HGH) levels
- Increased resistance to oxidative stress
- Lower diabetes risk
- Improved brain health
- Improved heart health
If you’re prediabetic or have a high risk for diabetes, you stand to gain the most from this strategy. By squeezing all your meals into 8 hours of the day, your body doesn’t have to produce insulin as often.
To improve your odds of committing to the diet, make sure you choose a good time to fast. Many people fast from 8 PM to 12 PM, but you can adjust the time frame to your liking.
HIIT the Gym
That’s not a misspelling. The extra “I” is there for a reason.
HIIT training, or high-intensity interval training, puts to bed the common excuse of not having enough time to exercise. A HIIT workout should take you around 20 minutes to complete.
This technique involves intensive spurts of physical activity followed by brief rest periods. For example, a HIIT workout can consist of 40-yard sprints with 30 seconds of rest in between.
These are a few of the biggest health benefits of HIIT:
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced blood sugar
- Reduced blood pressure
- Higher human growth hormone (HGH) levels
While HIIT offers undeniable perks, it’s also extremely taxing on your body. So, it’s not good to do it more than two or three times per week.
Also, feel free to mix up your HIIT workouts too. For example, you can do biking one day and swimming the next. This will help you look forward to your workouts more.
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Incorporate These Health Hacks into Your Daily Routine
The 6 simple health hacks above don’t require any exorbitantly expensive fitness equipment or food products. But you can boost the quality of your life by making just a few of these small changes.
Focus on incorporating only a couple of healthy life hacks at a time. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed, and it will be much easier to build healthy habits that stick as well.
Are you on constantly on the hunt for more everyday health tips? If so, be sure to keep coming back to the health section of our blog for regular updates!