Sometimes, there’s one big thing you can do that completely changes your physical, mental or emotional health. But most of the time, it’s the dozens of small things, done consistently over time, that make a big difference. Here, 101 little changes you can make every day,
1. Focus on nutrient-dense foods, instead of supplements. Ten big ones: prunes, blueberries, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, nuts, kale, carrots, pumpkin and olives.
2. Build in workouts. Take the stairs—two at a time if you wish—instead of the elevator, park your car far away in the parking lot, bike or walk to shopping and errands.
3. Breathe deep—often. Post small reminder notes saying “BREATHE” on your computer, dashboard of your car and bathroom mirror.
4. Exercise. About 20 to 30 minutes a day, 3 to 5 times a week. Choose something you enjoy, so you’ll stick with it: brisk walking, bicycling, skating, skiing, dancing, jumping rope.
5. Supplement. If your diet is lacking, take the essentials: a multi-vitamin and mineral, a high-quality fish oil and a broad-spectrum antioxidant blend.
6. Focus on fiber. Better than bran: fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, especially beans, lentils, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, turnips, raspberries and flax seeds.
7. Tone your liver. Artichokes and bitter greens help cleanse this vital organ; milk thistle is thought to remove harmful substances from the liver and repair damaged cells.
8. Get out of your mind and into your body. Several times a day, close your eyes and scan your body, noticing what it feels like and breathing into any tension.
9. Cut back on saturated fats in animal products; they’re linked to heart disease and inflammation. Substitute heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, found in olives, olive oil, nuts and avocados. For saturated fats, use coconut oil; it’s anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and won’t hurt your heart.
10. Build immunity, with foods rich in beta carotene, selenium and vitamin C. The best: pumpkin, strawberries, tomato sauce, garlic, pinto beans and bell peppers.
11. Exercise at work. Take an exercise break, instead of a coffee break: keep a jump rope in your office drawer, jog in place for 10 minutes at your desk, ride your bike during lunch hour.
12. Get enough calcium to keep bones healthy. And you don’t need dairy; plant-based sources include collard greens, broccoli, kale and firm tofu (in moderation). Greens also contain other bone-supportive nutrients, like magnesium and vitamin K.
13. Drink in moderation. Too much alcohol damages the heart and liver, and increases the risk of cancer and pancreatitis. Limit consumption to no more than 3 or 4 drinks a week.
14. Keep eyes healthy. Wear sunglasses, make sure work areas are well lit, and take breaks from computer or eye-straining work.
15. Steer clear of transfats, which dramatically increase the risk of heart disease. They’re found in margarine and foods that contain partially hydrogenated fats.
16. Stretch–before and after exercise, it helps prevent injury and strain, and increases your range of motion and flexibility.
17. Dance. Take jazz lessons, join a salsa class, play danceable music at home. Dancing moves your whole body, stimulates circulation, and strengthens heart and lungs.
18. Swap meat for beans. They’re high in fiber, low in fat, loaded with protein. Have at least half a cup a day, on salads, in soups, as hummus or sandwich spreads.
19. Munch on berries. They’re rich in healing antioxidants. Fresh or frozen, scatter them on cereal and salads, use them in smoothies and baking.
20. Get grounded. Several times a day, feel your feet on the ground, and take 10 deeps breaths, imagining the breath coming through your feet.
21. Build bones with exercise. The best are weight-bearing exercises like lifting weights, hiking, jogging, dancing or tennis.
22. Don’t skip meals. Have three meals and two healthy snacks, to keep blood sugar steady, burn fat and regulate cholesterol.
23. Flatten your abs. Strengthening the belly muscles protects the lower back. You don’t need fancy gym equipment; simple crunches work best.
24. Eat less meat. Studies have linked high meat consumption with heart disease, cancer and inflammation. Focus on vegetarian sources: beans, nuts, eggs, tofu in moderation.
25. Prevent skin cancer. Wear a hat, slather on a natural sunscreen year-round, and take sun-protective antioxidants; try vitamins A, C and E, alpha-lipoic acid, pycnogenol.
26. Make scents. Perfumes contain phthalates and petrochemicals. Concoct your own natural fragrances with pure essential oils. Try a mix of lavender, jasmine, and ylang-ylang.
27. Watch your GI. High GI (glycemic index) foods—bread, pasta, cookies—upset blood sugar. Low GI foods—lean protein, vegetables—slow insulin release, help control hunger and more. Get details at glycemicindex.com.
28. Check it out. Regular checkups and tests—mammograms, pap smears and colon cancer screening—may save your life. Don’t skip them.
29. Jump on it. Use a mini-trampoline for an efficient, no-excuses workout; it’s also great for boosting circulation.
30. Make snacks count. Think of them as mini-meals: a hard-boiled egg, a sliced apple with almond butter; hummus with red pepper strips for dipping; or a handful of nuts.
31. Take a break from coffee. It stimulates the release of stress hormones. Substitute green tea for a healthy pick-me-up.
32. Meditate. One simple technique: sit comfortably, close your eyes, and just listen to your breath. Repeat “relax.” You will.
33. Boost energy naturally. Tired after two? Skip the coffee break, and exercise instead to boost oxygen to the brain. Or try a healthy energy fix, like ginseng, ashwaganda or reishi mushroom.
34. Get some om time. Add yoga to your daily routine. Even 20 minutes a day makes a difference. Take a class, or invest in some good DVDs. Visit gaiam.com for ideas.
35. Take vitamin D. New studies show it may cut colon and breast cancer risk. Researchers recommended 2,000 IU of vitamin D in a form called D3 (cholecalciferol) per day.
36. Journal. Get your emotions out of your head and on to paper. Write down worries and fears before bed, then sleep peacefully with an empty mind.
37. Hydrate. Keep a bottle or pitcher full of filtered water on your desk or in your car, and sip throughout the day.
38. Eat more veggies. Have a big salad with five or six veggies every day, keep frozen vegetables on hand for fast meal additions.
39. Focus on fish. It’s low in calories, high in protein and healthy oils. Visit oceansalive.org for a continually updated list of safe fish.
40. Floss—and not just for a brighter smile; research shows that people with severe gum disease are more likely to develop heart disease.
41. De-stress. Chronic stress increases heart rate and blood pressure. Find ways that work for you: meditation, relaxing music, frequent short vacations.
42. Skip the sugar. It’s linked to blood sugar swings, inflammation, irritability and fatigue. “Natural” sweeteners—honey, agave—have the same effect. Sweeten foods with a small amount of stevia, derived from a South American herb.
43. Go jump in the lake—or pool. Swimming is a great way to strengthen muscles, increase endurance and burn fat.
44. Vent. Release frustration before it builds up; studies consistently show that anger, hostility and anxiety increase risk of heart disease and death.
45. Create a soothing home environment. Play calming music, scatter green plants and flowers throughout, light candles, keep lighting soft.
46. Stop smoking. Now. For help, visit americanheart.org or cancerorg.com
47. Remember breakfast. It kick-starts your metabolism and gets your system up and running, fast. Make sure it contains protein for long-term energy.
48. Think positively. Emotion follows thought; if you’re thinking happy thoughts, you feel inspired and uplifted. Write down your thoughts, and banish the negative stuff.
49. Go green. Even veggie eaters may not get enough greens. Add them with instant green beverages; keep single-serving envelopes in your car or desk drawer to add to juice.
50. Socialize. Studies show social interaction is related to improved health. Join a book club, take a language class, go to wine tastings.
51. Keep your mind sharp. Ditch the alcohol in favor of green tea or pomegranate juice, eat berries, and eat two servings a week of fish.
52 Have a healing salad. Dark leafy greens, carrots, red cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers, tomatoes, avocado, garbanzo beans and a handful of nuts, dressed with a little olive oil. Need we say more?
53. Love your work. If you dread it, it’s time for a change. Visit BrilliantWork.com for ideas.
54. Live like an Adventist. Seventh-Day Adventists boast longevity and robust good health. Their secrets: don’t drink or smoke, eat a vegetarian diet, embrace a strong spiritual practice.
55. Go nuts. Studies show they reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. Best picks: almonds and walnuts.
56. Commune with nature. Hike, spend time in a garden, let the sun shine on your face.
57. Sleep. It’s essential for health. Can’t sleep? Try snooze-inducing supplements–valerian, passionflower, GABA, L-tryptophan–or a warm cup of chamomile tea.
58. Put on a happy face. Studies show the healthiest people have a cheery outlook on life, while feelings of hostility or depression impair health.
59. Drink smoothies. You can squeeze five servings of fruit into one of these power-packed beverages.
60. Pray. Certain kinds of prayer—especially repetitive prayers or mantras—lowers stress hormones, improves blood pressure and boosts brain function.
61. Play ball. Tennis, squash, badminton and racquetball are great high-energy sports–even if you don’t hit the ball much, you’ll spend lots of time running.
62. Eat olive oil. It has anti-inflammatory benefits, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease.
63. Nurture your creative side. Take painting classes, join a singing group, write poetry. It keeps you heart young
64. Help others. Volunteer for homeless shelters, visit old folks homes, donate to your favorite charity. Studies suggest altruists live longer, happier lives.
65. Smile, even when you’re unhappy. More uplifting emotions often follow a conscious grin.
66. Avoid plastics. They contain toxic chemicals that wreak havoc on the endocrine system. Store food in glass containers, use metal drinking bottles, skip plastic wrap, never heat plastic in the microwave.
67. Be nice to yourself. Banish criticism, self-judgment and negative self talk from your internal vocabulary. Would you talk that way to a friend?
68. Cut out gluten. It can cause digestive disorders, headaches, joint pain, irritability and fatigue. Visit glutenfree.com and celiac.com for more information.
60. Eat less, live longer. Studies show that reducing calories (without cutting out crucial nutrients) can increase lifespan, halt inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
70. Clean up your act. Most common household cleaners and laundry detergents are loaded with toxic chemicals that harm humans and the environment. Stick to natural versions.
71. Get a massage. It’s not just a feel-good pursuit; therapeutic massage reduces stress and anxiety, boosts blood and lymph circulation, and can treat a variety of specific conditions.
72. Fast after six—or whenever dinner is for you. Late-night dining interferes with sleep, may hamper with weight loss.
73. Detox. Simple ways to cleanse: a two-day vegetable juice and water fast, a two-week raw-foods regimen, or a lifelong commitment to banishing sugar, caffeine, tobacco and food additives.
74. Laugh. It lowers stress hormones and relaxes muscles. Rent a funny movie, visit a comedy club, or have dinner with your silliest friend.
75. Spice up your life. Pungent and aromatic spices have healing properties and add calorie-free flavor to food. Some to try: turmeric, ginger, garlic, cayenne.
76. Get needled. Acupuncture has proven physical and psychological benefits; for more information on this 2,000-year-old tradition, visit acupuncture.com.
77. Avoid artificial sweeteners. There’s not enough information on long-term health risks, and short-term news isn’t good. Try stevia instead, and learn to enjoy food with less sweetener.
78. Know your BMI. Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of percentage of fat on your body, a good predictor of disease. Visit nhlbisupport.com/bmi to learn how.
79. Drink tea. Both green and black contain potent cancer-fighting compounds, and have less caffeine than coffee.
80. Have sex. It keeps relationships strong, reduces stress. Keep your loving to one partner: STDs adversely affect health.
81. Eat chocolate. Dark chocolate–70 percent or more–is low in sugar, high in antioxidants.
82. Ride a bike. It saves on fuel, builds muscles, strengthens heart and lungs, and gets you moving outside.
83. Get on the ball. Using an exercise ball instead of a desk chair helps prevent slumping and pain-inducing postures, helps your body make small strengthening adjustments.
84. Visualize success. Whether it’s career, relationships or health, envision the outcome you most desire; you’ll be more likely to get it if you can see it.
85. Go raw. Raw foods are rich in enzymes. Add several servings of raw fruit and a big green salad every day.
86. Get some feedback. Biofeedback can teach you to control blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension to benefit mental and physical problems. Check out biofeedback.net for info.
87. Exercise your mental muscles. An agile mind may keep you healthier. Choose new, stimulating activities: learn a foreign language, read challenging books, play chess, memorize poems.
88. Slow aging. There’s no magic bullet, but studies suggest certain supplements can help. Two to try: DHEA and melatonin. Other longevity boosters: fish oil, glutathione, cordyceps mushrooms and cat’s claw.
89. Learn to cook. Avoid fast foods and processed foods; most contain artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Stick to whole foods, and prepare them yourself.
90. Retreat. Take a three-day weekend off from the world. Banish TV, newspapers and telephones, do yoga and deep breathing, meditate. You deserve the break.
91. Men: protect your prostate. Three herbs shown to help: saw palmetto, pygeum, and stinging nettle. Find a formula that includes all three for a natural safety net.
92. Use natural deodorants. Mainstream brands contain parabens–linked to cancer–and other potentially harmful chemicals. Look for nontoxic varieties with mineral salts, potassium, and herbal astringents.
93. Get personal with training. A certified personal trainer can increase motivation, show you new moves, and personalize your workout.
94. Stock up on C. Make vitamin C your go-to supplement for more energy, smoother skin, and stronger immunity.
95. Make a spa date. Instead of the movies, treat yourself to a spa visit. Even a 30-minute facial, brow wax, or pedicure will leave you feeling pampered.
96. Get lovely locks. Massage scalp with tinctures of birch, horsetail, and rosemary to stimulate hair growth and keep hair shiny and strong.
97. Try homeopathy. This gentle form of medicine heals both physical and emotional symptoms. To learn more, visit well-known homeopath Dana Ullman’s Web site, homeopathic.com.
98. Start now for heart health. A new study shows it’s never too late. People aged 45 to 64 who add new, healthful lifestyle behaviors can signifi- cantly reduce death rate. Visit drsinatra .com for an alternative perspective.
99. Cleanse skin from within. A tea of burdock root, oat straw, milk thistle, and red clover can help
remove impurities and keep skin breakout free.
100. Sip some rooibos. This favorite African red tea has a sweet, honey-like flavor and is high in antioxidants. Best of all, it’s naturally caffeine free.
101. Be environmentally conscious. Recycle, compost, use less, and buy in bulk—at home and at the office. Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Web site at epa.gov for practical tips.