The lazy person’s guide to being healthy
Want to be healthier but not invest a lot of time or energy? There are ways to kick it up a notch without a ton of effort. These tips work for people crunched for time, too.
TV and exercise. Do push ups, sit ups and chair dips during commercial breaks. Netflix binge? Do a four-minute workout between each episode. Brandon Nemeth, a fitness specialist with Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill, suggests this quick but effective workout:
- 30 seconds of squats
- 30 seconds of lunges alternating legs
- 30 seconds of burpees
- 30 seconds jumping jacks
- 30 seconds of mountain climbers
- 30 seconds of crunches
- 1 minute plank
Build exercise into your daily life instead of making it an event. “Although some people find daily gym workouts or training for an organized run to be their preferred way of staying fit and decreasing stress, you can incorporate an active lifestyle into your everyday life in lieu of formal workouts,” says Nemeth.
Riding your bicycle, dancing (in your living room or on the dance floor), walking instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, playing with your children/grandchildren and doing yard work are just some of the ways you can stay active without exercising,” says Nemeth.
Adopt a pet. Dogs especially can be great for your health. A study of 5,200 Japanese adult dog owners were found to be 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of walking and physical activity – significantly more than non-dog owners.
And, according to the American Heart Association, dog ownership could help to decrease your risk of heart disease.
“While no study leads to a concrete reason that having a dog is good for your heart, the evidence is strong enough to allow the American Heart Association to issue a Scientific Statement on Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk,” says Dr. Marc Silver, a cardiologist at the Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center, and a dog owner. He explains the statement reviewed the available research on the influence of pet ownership on improved blood pressure, cholesterol and other cardiovascular disease risk factors and concluded that “pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, may be reasonable for reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.”
Consume less calories. “The easiest way to lose weight and achieve a healthy weight is to reduce the amount of calories you consume each day,” says Diane Gallagher, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist with Advocate Christ. To lose one pound a week, cut 3,500 calories per week. No exercise required (but it would help!)
“One to two pounds a week over a three-month period is a safe goal to aim for,” says Gallagher, who adds it’s all dependent on the percentage of weight loss needed. “Be realistic and set an attainable goal so you don’t get discouraged if you have a lot of weight to lose.”
Make healthy meals in advance. It’s hard to work a full day and then prepare a healthy meal. On a day off, make healthy meals and freeze them. Crock pots and dutch ovens make preparing large batches of food easier.
“Being organized and having planned meals and snacks is important to avoid the hunger pangs and triggers that make you reach for unhealthy choices,” says Gallagher.
Subscribe to a healthy meal delivery service. There are now several companies out there who will ship all the ingredients and instructions to make a healthy meal at home. Skip the grocery store and get just the right amount for your meal shipped to your front door. Or, order from a company that even does the cooking part for you. Lazy person bonus points!
Grocery store salad bars. It takes a lot of work to choose all the fruits, veggies and protein you want in your salad, not to mention the time for preparation. Let your local grocery store do the prep work for you and take advantage of all the pre-cut and prepared options!
“Portion control is huge; even healthy ingredients become caloric disasters when eaten in excess,” says Gallagher. “In addition, go easy on the salad dressing, cheese, avocado, croutons, nuts and dried fruit, as even in small amounts, those can add a lot of calories.”
Supplements. Nothing beats a healthy diet, but sometimes, a little extra boost can help keep you healthy. “If you are eating a balanced diet comprised of a variety of foods, a vitamin supplement is usually unnecessary. However, if you are skipping meals and eating a low-calorie diet, a vitamin supplement could be warranted,” says Gallagher, who advises checking with your physician before you take a supplement.
Eat slowly and enjoy the experience. No need to rush through a mealtime. It’s better for your waistline if you don’t. Eating slowly allows our satiety centers located in our brain and gut to register the amount of food we have eaten and help us to feel full,” said Dr. Brian Blumenstein, a gastroenterologist with Advocate Christ. “If you rush through mealtime, you won’t realize when you are full and will likely consume more calories than you need,” Dr. Blumenstein.
Give your brain a workout. Not up for sweating at the moment? Replace it with a brain exercise/game. Older adults who participate in “brain training” see positive cognitive benefits as much as 10 years later, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Sleep. Getting enough sleep is important on so many levels, says Dr. Muhammad A. Hamadeh, a pulmonologist and sleep specialist at Advocate Christ.
“In the short term, lack of sleep can impair concentration, memory, will-power to avoid junk food, as well as your mood and emotional well-being.”
Dr. Hamadeh says that if sleep deprivation continues long-term, it can put you at higher risk for multiple health issues including, heart disease, heart attacks, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, accidents, weight gain, colds and flu as well as depression and anxiety.”
Take naps too, especially if you are sleep deprived. Seriously – it’s for your health!
About the Author
Kate Eller, health enews contributor, is director of public affairs for Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center and Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. She came to Chicago and Advocate in 2014 after living in Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. She enjoys road trips, exploring little towns, minimalism, hiking and urban hiking around Chicago.