10 Small Changes with Big Health Payoffs
By Sarah Jio
See why minor lifestyle tweaks can make a major difference for your overall well-being
Does it ever feel like you have to spend hours and hours at the gym, change your diet dramatically or jump way out of your comfort zone to reap any rewards in the health department? Think again. Our experts say that these small changes can have significant health payoffs.
1. Floss more often.
According to Robert Emami, DDS, chief of staff at Dental Specialties, a multispecialty practice in Randolph, Massachusetts, a simple piece of nylon string can have dramatic effects on a woman's overall health. “Flossing is one of the easiest, quickest ways to remove bad bacteria from your body,” he says. “Plaque and bacteria are constantly building up in areas of the teeth that brushing does not get to. If plaque accumulates, it eats away the bone that holds the teeth in place.” Oral bacteria, he adds, can enter the bloodstream; studies have shown that such harmful bugs could exacerbate diabetes and hypertension, and even lead to premature births.
2. Eat every 2 to 3 hours during the day.
Think you’re a saint for going on a long hunger strike at work? If you’re imagining thinner thighs as a result, don’t. You’re likely making your metabolism crazy, says Dallas-based fitness trainer Scott Colby, and possibly setting yourself up to eat more later in the day. Colby encourages women to eat when they’re hungry, which often translates to three meals and at least two snacks per day. “This will help keep you full and satisfied and will reduce the likelihood of binge eating at the end of the day,” he says. “This is one of the best principles you can follow to blast fat and build sexy, lean muscle.”
3. Make your coffee at home.
If a trip to Starbucks is as much of a morning ritual as showering and blow-drying your hair, you might find this advice crazy, but health experts like Gregory J.E. Ladas, author of the book The Couch Potato Diet, say it will not only save you money but possibly hundreds of calories. When you brew your java at home, you “avoid the unhealthy temptations at coffee shops like doughnuts,” he says. And who hasn’t fallen for a sprinkle donut or a piece of fat- and calorie-laden pumpkin loaf?
4. Wear a pedometer.
Boston-based personal trainer Helena Collins calls the affordable little pedometer “the most effective fitness tool known to man”—or woman. “Becoming aware of how much you move is such motivation to move more,” she says. “Not only for you, but for your whole family. Kids love pedometers—it becomes a family challenge about movement, not exercise.” It also may be fun to track how active (or inactive) you are each day. For starters, 2,000 steps is the equivalent of one mile. To boost your physical and mental health, wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to increase your steps every day.