From mental health to physical fitness, living a healthy life doesn’t have to be complicated.
Small changes can make a big difference in how you feel, and simple tests can provide surprisingly big insights into your life, as we’ve learned throughout this year.
Here are the top 10 health hacks found by TODAY.com in 2023. We hope they help you succeed in 2024!
Just 11 minutes of daily walking improves health
It doesn’t take much time to get healthier. Just 11 minutes a day of moderately intense physical activity, such as brisk walking, can reduce the risk of heart disease by 17% and cancer by 7%, according to research. This amount of daily exercise also carries a 23% lower risk of premature death.
A separate study found that walking 8,000 steps just once or twice a week could be enough to significantly reduce the risk of death over a 10-year period.
Wall squatting can lower blood pressure
Exercise can lower blood pressure without medication, so experts have urged doctors to prescribe it to hypertensive patients.
But what kind of exercise is best? According to the research review, its an isometric exercise that tenses the muscles without contracting them, especially the wall squat.
Its simple yet incredibly intense. The review’s lead author suggests doing four wall squats, each lasting 2 minutes, with 1 to 4 minutes of rest in between. This should be done three times a week to lower blood pressure.
Try the sit-to-stand test to see how healthy you are
Start from a standing position, then sit cross-legged on the ground, then stand again without your hands.
This simple test is a powerful indicator of health because you need to have strong cardiovascular health, good balance, agility, flexibility, and heart and leg strength to complete it, says NBC News Medical Contributor Dr. Natalie Azar.
Cherry juice can help you sleep
After the drug went viral on TikTok, experts told TODAY.com that cherry juice could be tried as a natural sleep aid, but only after checking with your doctor.
Tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan, which help with sleep because they increase the amount of melatonin in the body, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Small studies have shown that adults who drank cherry juice in the evening had longer sleep times.
Choose a product without added sugar and pair it with other sleep-inducing foods, such as tryptophan-rich cheese or melatonin-rich almonds, advises Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietitian nutritionist.
Try pickle juice to stop muscle cramps
Athletes sometimes sip pickle juice during intense exercise because it can reduce muscle cramps.
Pickle juice does not prevent muscle cramps from developing; rather, it prevents them from happening at this time, researchers tell TODAY.com. The acid in the salt water triggers a nerve reflex in the throat, which sends a signal to the spinal cord to stop the cramp.
The next time you get a muscle cramp, try drinking a tablespoon of juice from a jar of vinegar-based pickles for relief.
A quiet walk can help you feel calmer
Mental health exercise involves taking a walk alone in nature, without distractions and in a place where there are no crowds.
The idea is to be aware of every breath and every step, listen to the sounds of nature around you, feel gratitude for the sun kissing your skin and take time to reflect, Lalah Delia, author of the Mindfulness book Vibrate Higher Daily. reports TODAY.com.
Zen Buddhist monks have long practiced silent walking under a different name, walking meditation, he adds.
Health benefits include stress reduction, a deeper connection with oneself, and a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate.
Which alcohol is the healthiest?
No alcohol consumption is safe for health, warns the World Health Organization. But if people choose to drink alcohol in moderation, there are some recommended options, experts say.
One of them is a glass of champagne or sparkling white wine, which has about 100 calories. Choose dry white wine or dry sparkling wine that doesn’t have added sugar like many other drinks, nutritionists say.
Stop middle age weight gain with a simple food change
When it comes to weight gain after age 40, starch is a bigger problem than sugar, researchers found.
They advise focusing on the quality of carbohydrates by switching certain carbohydrates for others.
People who eat more whole grains, fruits and non-starchy vegetables gain less weight in middle age than their peers who eat sugary, starchy diets, a study found.
The bird test can tell you how long your relationship will last
The test that went viral on TikTok involves pointing a bird at your loved one and watching their reaction.
If they respond with genuine interest or are otherwise curious about why you’re fixating on a bird, you have a good chance of a strong, long-term relationship, bird test proponents say.
However, if your partner doesn’t notice the bird, your relationship is supposed to be less healthy.
Get rid of clutter with a Swedish death clean
The new year is all about new beginnings and letting go of old habits and things that weigh you down.
That’s where Swedish death cleansing can help, a concept Swedish author Margareta Magnusson has introduced to the rest of the world. The idea is that we shouldn’t leave our loved ones behind to clean up when we die, he writes in his latest book.
When cleaning, people often find it difficult to get rid of things that really should be thrown away but have sentimental value. If so, take a picture of the item, say thank you for it, and then let it go, she advises.
Keep it bare and organized. It’s a way to live. Don’t pile things up, Magnusson tells TODAY.com.
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