Small, positive changes can mean lasting results to your health

Small changes in nutrition, physical activity, and daily lifestyle habits can add up to long-lasting results in weight loss; reduced risk for chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer; and overall well-being.  The key is to focus on small changes that you can incorporate into your current lifestyle.

Here are a few ideas for moving more and getting closer to the recommended 150 minutes – that’s just 2½ hours! – of physical activity per week:

  • Just 10 minutes of moderate physical activity at a time is enough to see benefits over time!
  • Take a walk around your building on your break from work.
  • Take the stairs, not the elevator! Work on the 5th floor? Try taking the stairs for two or three flights and slowly work your way up to all five.
  • Park farther away at the grocery store or shopping center to get some extra steps in.
  • Walk or bike to work, school, the store, or library instead of driving.
  • At home, take your laundry or other items up or downstairs at the time you collect it – don’t leave it to just make one trip – get as many steps as possible each day.

Simple, but effective ways to eat a little bit healthier:

  • Include fruits or veggies in at least one snack per day.
  • Add veggies to breakfast. For example: Spinach, cucumber, celery, and grated carrot are easily incorporated into a smoothie. Broccoli, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes all work well in eggs.
  • Limit fattier cuts of meat and dairy; – look for lean protein like beans, nuts, seeds, chicken, and fish.
  • Make at least half of the grains you eat whole grains – think whole wheat, rolled or steel cut oats and brown rice.
  • Set aside 10 or 20 minutes each night to prep items for the next day’s breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner – chop veggies, prep smoothies, pack lunches or snacks. Or set aside one to two hours each week to prep meals and snacks for the week ahead.

These changes may sound simple and it’s precisely because of their simplicity that they are effective and sustainable.

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Alison Bradow is the chronic disease prevention coordinator at the YMCA. 

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