🧐🤩😱 This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS and by wikiHow staff writer, Amber Crain. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Tennessee in 2006.
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🧐🤩😱 Improving your health is an awesome goal, but there are so many factors to consider. Where do you start? Don't worry—we've done the research and compiled a list of tips and tricks you can use to starting improving your health today. Many of these are ideas are super easy to incorporate and even small changes can make a big difference!
1 1 of 18:Spend more time in nature. Download Article
- Exposure to natural environments may lower stress and prevent illness. Can it really be that simple? Research is ongoing, but scientific studies do indicate that spending time in nature can actually improve your health. There's no wrong way to do this—take walks, hit the local trails, go fishing, visit a park or arboretum, or start a garden in your own backyard. Even sitting quietly outdoors is beneficial! The key is just to get out there and enjoy nature as often as you can.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
- If you're looking for a unique hobby to do outdoors, consider bird watching, archery, or mushroom foraging.
2 2 of 18:Take a probiotic supplement. Download Article
- Your gut plays a crucial role in your health and well-being. Disruptions and imbalances in gut bacteria have been linked to serious health problems like inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source Taking probiotics can help restore balance by introducing doses of "good bacteria" into your gut. Research is ongoing, but potential benefits include improved immune system function, better digestion, and more.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Probiotics contain different strains of bacteria, so it may take some trial and error to figure out which strains benefit you the most.
- You shouldn't take probiotics if you have a compromised immune system. If you have a serious health condition, talk to your doctor before trying probiotics.
- There's evidence that gut health may influence your mental health, too. Taking probiotics could potentially help with issues like anxiety and depression.XTrustworthy SourceJohns Hopkins MedicineOfficial resource database of the world-leading Johns Hopkins HospitalGo to source
3 3 of 18:Consume fresh herbs. Download Article
- Eating herbs may protect you from illnesses like cancer and diabetes. Fresh herbs are rich in antioxidants and boast countless other potential health benefits. Best of all, they're delicious and easy to add to your favorite salads and dishes. To enjoy the most benefits, consume the freshest herbs you can get your hands on. Dried herbs are less potent, but they provide health benefits, too!XResearch source
- Fresh garlic, fenugreek, and lemongrass may help lower cholesterol. Garlic may also lower blood pressure.
- Fresh onions, chives, leeks, mint, basil, oregano, and sage may help protect against cancer.
- Rosemary, sage, and oregano contain high levels of antioxidants.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
4 4 of 18:Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Download Article
- Focus on nutrient-rich foods within each food group. A healthy diet boosts your energy, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Aim to eat a balance of whole grains, lean protein, fruits, veggies, and dairy products every day. Variety is also important! Try new foods and change up your weekly meals so your body gets all the nutrients it needs.XTrustworthy SourceHealth.govOnline collection of health and fitness standards set by the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health PromotionGo to source A few helpful tips to get you started:
- Bring easy, portable snacks like nuts, bananas, and baby carrots with you to work or school.
- Plan your meals for the week ahead so healthy options are always within reach.
- Prioritize foods that are high-fiber, low-sugar, and low-salt.
- Reach for healthy fats in foods like fish, nuts, and avocados.
- Leafy greens like kale, broccoli, and cabbage are packed with nutrients.
- Avoid saturated fats, hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, and processed foods.
- Be sure to check nutrition labels for serving sizes; proper portioning is important, too.XTrustworthy SourceUS Food and Drug AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for promoting public healthGo to source
5 5 of 18:Drink plenty of fluids. Download Article
- Fluids keep your entire body functioning properly. Water is the healthiest option, but juices and water-rich foods like soups, fruits, and vegetables are good, too. If you’re struggling to get enough fluid every day, try using bigger glasses (fill them up completely every time), drinking with a straw, and carrying a thermos or refillable bottle with you to work or school every day.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School's Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
- How much fluid you need every day depends on factors like your height, weight, activity level, but in general:
6 6 of 18:Sleep 7-9 hours every night. Download Article
- Go to sleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day. Getting in enough hours every night is important, but a consistent sleep pattern is also crucial because it helps your body and mind sync up. You’ll feel and perform your best if you work with your internal clock rather than against it.XResearch source Here are a few ways to do that:
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time each day (including weekends)XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Get a dose of sunshine in the morning to help set your internal clock
- Create a nightly routine and start winding down an hour before bed
- Take naps or go to bed earlier if you feel tired during the day
- Avoid caffeine at least 6 hours before bed
7 7 of 18:Improve your sleep hygiene. Download Article
- The quality of your sleep matters. Sleep is a key component of good health. "Sleep hygiene" probably sounds a little clinical, but it’s all about focusing on improving your sleep habits so you get plenty of deep, restorative sleep every night.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source For awesome sleep hygiene, try these tips:
- Keep the temperature between 60–67 °F (16–19 °C)XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Keep your room dark (night lights and dim lighting are fine, if preferred)
- Shut off electronic devices 1 hour before bedtime
- Avoid eating 3-4 hours before bedtime
- Wear earplugs to block out noise
- Limit or avoid alcohol after dinnerXTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School's Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
8 8 of 18:Be more active during the day. Download Article
- You can sneak more activity into your day no matter how busy you are. When your to-do list is a mile long, it’s easy for exercise to end up at the very bottom. If this sounds familiar, focus on squeezing in short bursts of activity as you’re going about your day. There’s no right way to get moving and every bit helps! Here are a few easy ideas:XResearch source
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
- Park further away in the parking lot
- Get up from your desk and stretch every 30 minutes
- Bike or walk to work
- Do 10 squats while you’re brushing your teeth
- Walk or do calf raises when you’re on the phone
9 9 of 18:Get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. Download Article
- Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week is a great goal. Aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. Basically, anything that gets your heart pumping! Health professionals recommend 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity every week to maintain heart health. It's easier to spread out exercise in short sessions over several days rather than exercising for multiple hours 1-2 days a week.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Moderate intensity exercise: you can talk but you're too out of breath to sing.
- Vigorous intensity: you can't say more than a few words without running out of breath.XTrustworthy SourceMedlinePlusCollection of medical information sourced from the US National Library of MedicineGo to source
- Develop an exercise routine that works for you! Gardening, dancing, hiking, biking, swimming, and chasing after your kids/pets can all be great exercise.
10 10 of 18:Do strength training twice a week. Download Article
- Strength training helps you build muscle and maintain bone density. Choose activities that work all of your major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms). Try to do 8-12 reps per exercise, which counts as 1 set. Start with 1 set per training session and work your way up to 2-3 sets of each exercise.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source Strength training activities include:
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Exercises that use your body weight for resistance (push-ups, sit-ups, etc.)
- Strenuous gardening (digging, shoveling, etc.)
- Some forms of yoga
11 11 of 18:Minimize your stress levels. Download Article
- Chronic stress can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. You can’t avoid stress completely and low levels of stress can actually be good for you. But intense or prolonged stress can disrupt your immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems.XTrustworthy SourceNational Institute of Mental HealthInformational website from U.S. government focused on the understanding and treatment of mental illness.Go to source To minimize your stress as much as possible:
- Get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week
- Try meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness techniques
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Keep a journalXTrustworthy SourceHelpGuideNonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources.Go to source
12 12 of 18:Wash your hands often. Download Article
- It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid getting sick and spreading germs. It's particularly important to wash your hands after using the bathroom, before preparing and eating food, and after handling animals. Lather up using warm water and gentle soap for about 20 seconds. Then, rinse your hands and dry them off with a clean towel.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- Washing your hands may sound like a no-brainer, but it can easily slip your mind if you're distracted or in a hurry.
- Hand sanitizer can work in a pinch, but it’s not as effective as good old soap and water. Try to wash your hands as soon as you can.
- Scrubbing up regularly can help prevent illnesses like flu, pneumonia, and COVID-19.XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School's Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
13 13 of 18:Dry brush your skin. Download Article
- Dry brushing exfoliates, stimulates circulation, and may boost immunity. The best tool for this is a natural, stiff-bristled bath brush with a long handle. Starting at your ankles, brush up your legs using light, fluid motions. A couple of overlapping strokes is plenty! Then, swipe a few times from wrist to shoulder and finish with a couple of gentle, circular strokes on your tummy and back. Follow up with a shower to rinse away dead skin and moisturize when you get out.XTrustworthy SourceCleveland ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Stick with 1-2 sessions a week until you know how your skin handles it. If all goes well, work your way up to once a day.
- Don't dry brush your face; that skin is too delicate. Lighten the pressure for other sensitive areas like your abdomen, breasts, and neck (or skip them).
- Avoid dry brushing broken skin, moles, warts, and other raised bumps.
14 14 of 18:Enjoy a glass of red wine. Download Article
- Kicking back with a nice red may boost heart health. Studies show that the antioxidants in red wine may prevent damaged blood vessels, reduce cholesterol, and prevent blood clots. If red wine isn't your jam, there's evidence that all alcoholic beverages (including white wine, beer, and spirits) may lower your risk of heart disease. The key is to drink in moderation—having more than 1 alcoholic beverage a day will do more harm than good.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
15 15 of 18:Boost cognition with games and puzzles. Download Article
- Your brain needs exercise, too! Studies show that "brain games" like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess may improve cognitive functioning. Keeping your brain active may also prevent dementia and other memory problems as you age. To reap the most benefits, try to engage your mind with at least 1 game or mental exercise every day.XResearch source
- If crosswords aren't your thing, you may get the same benefits from card games, board games, and computer games.
16 16 of 18:Watch your posture. Download Article
- Poor posture can affect your long-term health significantly. Bad posture can lead to decreased range of motion, muscle tightness, weakened muscles, and balance issues. That said, poor posture is a bad habit that you can break! The key is checking in with yourself regularly during the day and adjusting your posture, as needed, until it becomes habitual. For example, if you work at a desk every day, put a sticky note on your computer monitor to remind yourself to sit up straight. Additionally, be sure to keep your:XTrustworthy SourceHarvard Medical SchoolHarvard Medical School's Educational Site for the PublicGo to source
- Chin lifted and parallel to the floor
- Shoulders even and relaxed
- Spine straight and neutral (no flexing or arching)
- Abdominal muscles engaged
- Hips even
- Knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Weight distributed evenly on both feet
17 17 of 18:Get an annual checkup or physical. Download Article
- Regular screenings can help you prevent serious health issues. If you’re asymptomatic and under the age of 65, a basic physical is really all you need (although you can certainly get a more comprehensive screening if you want to). If you’re over 65, doctors recommend a comprehensive wellness screening every year.XTrustworthy SourceHealth.govOnline collection of health and fitness standards set by the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health PromotionGo to source Regardless of age, if you’re experiencing worrisome or long-lasting symptoms of any kind, schedule a routine checkup ASAP.
- Bring a list of current symptoms and your family’s health history with you to the exam. This helps your doctor figure out what screenings you need.XTrustworthy SourceHealth.govOnline collection of health and fitness standards set by the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health PromotionGo to source
- Many illnesses are treatable if you catch them in the early stages. The longer an illness or condition goes undiagnosed, the harder it’ll be to treat.
18 18 of 18:Quit smoking. Download Article
- It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health. But quitting can be tough since your body is addicted to the nicotine. That said, people quit smoking every single day, and you can, too! Nicotine gum, patches, medications, and other treatments are available to help you kick the habit for good.XTrustworthy SourceUS Food and Drug AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for promoting public healthGo to source
- Quitting smoking improves your health in many ways. You'll heal faster, get sick less often, have more energy, and be physically stronger when you're a nonsmoker.XResearch source
- Quitting also reduces your risk of serious health problems like heart disease, cancer, and lung disease.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source
- QuestionWhat can I do to make my heart healthier?Shervin Eshaghian, MDDr. Shervin Eshaghian is a Board Certified cardiologist and the owner of Beverly Hills Cardiology based in the Los Angeles, California metro area. Dr. Eshaghian has over 13 years of cardiology experience, including serving on the medical staff at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He holds a BS in Psycho-Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Furthermore, Dr. Eshaghian completed an internship, residency, and fellowship at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, where he was awarded the Leo Rigler Outstanding Academic Achievement Award and the Elliot Corday Fellow of the Year Award.
Board Certified CardiologistBoard Certified CardiologistExpert AnswerIf you smoke any tobacco products, do your best to quit since it can lead to heart disease.
- QuestionWhat are some exercises I can do for a healthy gut?Dale Prokupek, MDDale Prokupek, MD is a board-certified Internist and Gastroenterologist who runs a private practice based in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Prokupek is also a staff physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Prokupek has over 30 years of medical experience and specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the liver, stomach, and colon, including chronic hepatitis C, colon cancer, hemorrhoids, anal condyloma, and digestive diseases related to chronic immune deficiency. He holds a BS in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and an MD from the Medical College of Wisconsin. He completed an internal medicine residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a gastroenterology fellowship at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine.
Board Certified Internist & GastroenterologistBoard Certified Internist & GastroenterologistExpert AnswerExercise, in general, is imperative for a healthy gut because when we exercise, the motility of our GI tract increases. In other words, people who don't exercise get very constipated because not exercising and leading a sedentary lifestyle paralyzes your GI tract. So, it's very important for people that are constipated to exercise because it'll stimulate their colon It also can be very healthy for your GI tract to do certain yoga poses (for example, a lot of the twisting poses in yoga stimulate forward propulsion of your GI tract which the goal is to clear out your colon every 48 hours or so, and those twisting types of yoga poses will help you do that).
About This Article
There are a few simple lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health. Try to eat a balanced diet that’s low in fat and sugar. The majority of your diet should be made up of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. You should also aim to exercise for about 2.5 hours a week, but start off with whatever you can manage and gradually increase your time. There are plenty of fun ways to exercise, like walking, dancing, hiking, biking, and swimming. Remember to wash your hands regularly throughout the day and before eating, since this will protect you from bacteria and infections. Try to take time to relax each day to help reduce your stress levels. Lower stress will have a positive effect on your physical health. For more advice from our Medical co-author, including how to improve your sleep quality, read on!