Improve your Health in Just Minutes


What’s on your health To Do List? Most items there are probably important but not urgent, so they’re easy to put off for later. But for many of us, later never comes.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and most of us don’t have a whole day free anyway, so why not tackle those projects a little at a time?*

If you want to try running, you don’t have to start with a marathon. If you want to lose 50 lbs, you don’t have to do it overnight. If you want to go Paleo, Gluten-free, or vegan, you don’t have to give up brownies, Diet Coke, pasta, and bacon all at once… You get my point.

Over time, these changes will become second nature and your new habits will have a huge impact on your health and how you feel. Even if they just reduce your stress, the health benefits will follow. Here are some quick and achievable healthy tasks you can fit in almost any schedule.

Try out one (or more), see if it sticks, and let me know how it goes!

In 5 Minutes, You Can:

  • Wash your hands
  • Microwave your kitchen sponge for 30-60 sec to kill bacteria
  • Drink a glass of water
  • Eat a piece of fruit
  • Take a deep, relaxing breath
  • Floss your teeth**
  • Stand up and stretch
  • Apply sunscreen
  • Wash your makeup brushes (or better yet, go fresh-faced today)
  • Express gratitude for three things

In 10 Minutes, You Can:

  • Schedule a dental, optometry, or other medical appointment
  • Draw a mole map to monitor for skin cancer
  • Make a lunch to take to work tomorrow
  • Fill healthy snack bags to keep in your purse, car, or desk
  • Write a grocery list for a healthy new recipe
  • Do 10 squats and 10 push-ups
  • Declutter expired items from your medicine cabinet
  • Make a first aid kit for your car
  • Make a to do list at night to get a better start in the morning
  • Hang blackout curtains in your bedroom for better sleep

In 20 Minutes, You Can:

  • Go for a walk or a jog, preferably outside
  • Practice yoga with an online video
  • Make a wallet card of important health information as noted in #3 here
  • Review your living will and power of attorney for necessary changes
  • Phone a friend
  • Play a game with your kids
  • Listen to a Nutrition Diva podcast
  • Weed your garden, or help a friend or neighbor with theirs
  • Take a nap
  • Hold a family meeting to discuss 3 goals for the week, month, and year

If you have more time, you have even more options. Go for a hike, teach your kids to cook, teach yourself to cook a vegetable you’ve never eaten before, plan a vacation, discuss your family’s financial goals or review your health insurance plan… The sky’s the limit!

*Credit and thanks go to my dear friend Jen, who brainstormed the idea for this post.

 **New guidelines no longer recommend flossing daily. Though it is likely to be helpful and unlikely to be harmful, more research is needed.

What are your favorite quick health actions? Have any of them become daily habits? Let me know in the comments below.
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Comments 8

  1. Great lists, Julie! To eat healthy, I eat the same meals each day for breakfast and lunch (it’s a habit I don’t even have to think about). Breakfast is chia seed, almond milk, peanut butter and sometimes a banana. Lunch is avocado with whatever else is around – I particularly like it with tomatoes and beans.

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  2. This is great, Julie. I looked at our sponge while I was cleaning some dishes yesterday. It looked so ratty. And I remember thinking to myself that it must be swarming with bacteria. So I threw it out. But I will nuke the new one on occasion. That’s such a great idea. And I love Amanda’s idea about the capsule breakfast and lunch. Just devise something healthy and eat it every day. Let your brain expend its limited bandwidth on more important things. The only thing I would add to your 20 minute list is this: clean something in the house every day. Mrs. G and I devised a cleaning schedule and everyday we hit a different area. On most days, my chores take about a 20 minutes to complete. And I usually do it before work. It’s a definite win-win. I get a little exercise and the house never becomes too untidy.

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  3. These are all great ideas. I think it’s easy to say – “I’m too busy” and use it as an excuse. We always bring lunches to work/school. I like the idea of adding a healthy recipe to your shopping list each week. That seems like an easy way to do something important for yourself! We tossed our kitchen sponge yesterday too. Yuck. Definitely need to microwave it more often!

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      Ha! I never would have guessed that the sponge would get the most comments!
      Good for you for always packing lunches–it’s not surprising that you’re on the ball! They might not be super-exciting, but eating real food always makes me feel so much better than eating fast food.

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