5 Quick Health Hacks That Help Me Everyday
Outside of my general health and fitness routine, I have a standard collection of quick health hacks that play a role in my everyday habits.
I made the mistake of letting my health get away from me for a few years. More from a overall wellness standpoint than being in “shape”. I’m sure you’ve had similar peaks and valleys in your own health lives.
Who knew long hours in a computer chair staring at screens, staying up late and not setting aside time for general upkeep wouldn’t be optimal.
I try to get to the gym or run a minimum of 4 days a week. That generally falls at some point between 5:30AM – 7:00AM on weekdays. I am a morning person and after trial and error, I found that the pre-work early AM window was the best fitness time for me.
Despite that physical activity and what I thought was sufficient enough to keep me healthy, I wasn’t feeling all that healthy.
Tired. Stiff. Sore.
To supplement, I’ve developed a small collection of health hacks. They require minimal capital investment and even less time investment.
Life is busy, life is unexpected and life is stressful. Making things easier and more effective is key. Living healthier, smarter and better through a simple implementation of a few apps and practices has been so beneficial.
I am sure I am only scratching the surface here but below are 5 quick and easy health hacks that are working for me.
Sleep Cycle is a free mobile app that analyzes and tracks your sleep patterns.
You go through cycles as you sleep. The first is light, then deep sleep and then dream sleep, known as REM-sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes and you will repeat that a few times each night.
The purpose of Sleep Cycle is to wake you up during the lightest portion of your sleep cycle.
Waking up during “light sleep” is the most natural way for your body and mind to feel naturally rested.
How does Sleep Cycle do this?
By using sound analysis to identify sleep states by tracking movements. The app’s software has a built in microphone and accelerometer to monitor and track this.
Sleep Cycle then uses a wake up phase (30 minutes by default) that ends at your desired alarm time. During this phase the app will monitor signals from your body to wake you softly, when you are in the lightest possible sleep state.
You can read in more detail as Sleep Cycle explains How It Works.
I’ve seen great benefits from the app.
Waking up during this light sleep phase has definitely mitigated grogginess. I wake up feeling naturally rested and don’t get startled from a blasting alarm when I am in deep sleep.
Give Sleep Cycle alarm clock a two week testing window. See if it improves your energy level and general morning wellness.
It’s working for me and is a simple health hack that gets my day started optimally.
One of the most effective health hacks I’ve implemented into my daily routine is stretching.
Who knew you couldn’t just lift weights and run to remain flexible and limber? Especially as your age continues to climb.
Fitness Magazine include the benefits of stretching as: reducing stress, easing back pain, improving posture, prevents injury, boosts joint health and many more.
The Mayo Clinic notes the same benefits and provides some easy stretching essentials tips too.
Since really noticing my body’s range of motion wasn’t what it once was, I’ve built stretching into my daily habits.
- 10 minutes in the morning
- 10 minutes in the evening
Nothing crazy, just slowly working my way through my body. From top to bottom while concentrating on breathing and improving.
- Neck, rotator cuffs, triceps, foremans, wrists.
- Upper back, lower back.
- Hamstrings, quads, calves, ankles.
There are tons of free videos available online to help guide you through a 10 minute routine. Here is list from a YouTube search.
I watched 10-20 different videos over the last year or so and just developed my own routine. As I get older and get even less mobile, maybe I will get deeper into yoga.
As it stands now, stretching has had major benefits for me. My range of motion has returned, I have less back pain, its helped my running and exercise ability too.
A simple 20 minutes a day health hack that will likely pay dividends later into life.
3 plastic balls with spikes on them.
I’d used lacrosse balls in the past when I was more into heavier weight lifting and playing competitive sports. Once that ended the idea of lacrosse balls as a health hack just vanished into past memories.
It wasn’t until December 2017, when watching a Tim Ferriss video on His Favorite Purchases Under $100, that I was reminded again of this simply, yet highly effective tool.
I was already having the successes with stretching, so I figured adding another quick and easy exercise into the routine would help. I searched some videos and articles online to refresh my memory on the proper form.
Health Line has a great article on the benefits of lacrosse balls that also includes 5 easy how-to exercises. There are dozens of videos on YouTube. It’s quick and easy to get a routine down.
Nowadays after my 10 minute evening stretching routine, I bring out the lacrosse balls for a full roll through:
- Yoke of the neck
- Shoulder blades
- Lower back
Wow! I forgot how effective these were.Such an amazing tool for like $15.
It helps me alleviate (and prevent future) pain, stretch out my muscles, reduce tightness, hits precision massage points and so much more. If I am going to be spending a lot of time in my office chair at home, I keep the lacrosse balls beside me.
Rolling my feet and forearms really helps the general tightness from being seated.
I got mine on Amazon from 5BILLION.
There are dozens of options, all with the same benefits. Order a set, get rolling and don’t look back.
Next up on the daily health hack list is Meditation Studio.
I’d never been one for the practice of meditation. I honestly hadn’t considered or thought about trying it. Yoga, meditation, none of it.
Maybe I was naive or just close minded.
As the stresses of life continued to build, my mind got busier and much more restless. A million ideas, questions and concerns bouncing around.
That busy, worrisome mind was impacting my life.
Sleep, mood, motivation and so on.
As with any problem in life, I took to Google to do some searching. Turns out Google recommends meditation for anxiety, stress and concentration issues. The benefits of meditation are seemingly endless but here are a few from Healthline:
- Reduces stress
- Controls anxiety
- Improves concentration
- Increases happiness
- Benefits sleep
Google eventually drove me in the direction of Meditation Studio. The app had amazing reviews and some industry accolades:
- 10 Best Apps of the Year from App Store
- 50 Best Apps of the Year from Time
Meditation Studio comes with a free 7 day trial. During that trial you can explore the library of courses, teachers and guided lessons.
If you’re skeptical, use the 7 day trial to see if there is a fit for you.
That’s what I did and within 7 days I was now signed up and registered for the $2.99 per month plan.
I’ve been sticking to the BE Healthy collection that focuses on stress, sleep, anxiety and pain.
This collection includes 70 different meditations.
In terms of a health hack, $2.99 per month is easy for me to stomach. The benefits I am getting far outweigh that cost.
Another health hack I actively use because of my frequency of looking at screens is f.lux. It’s a free app that is available on Windows, Mac and Linux.
I can’t recommend this enough for anyone who uses a computer, particularly in the early morning or nighttime.
In layman’s terms, f.lux makes the colour of your display adapt to the time of day. The basis of it is around the scientific research that the blue light our screens omit affects our eyes and our sleep.
Our brains use colour temperature (or light intensity) to associate with what time of day it is. Therefore, brighter blue lighting is connected to daytime, and the higher the blue temperature, the closer it is to Noon. While orange and peachy tones are deciphered by your brain and internal biological clock as nighttime.
I won’t delve too deep into the science of it all but if you want more detailed explanations here are some sources:
I can say wholeheartedly it has helped me.
My eyes feel less strained and if I am crashing into bed after a late night of writing, I no longer have that fuzziness or restless feeling.
Based on the research on blue light regarding our eyes and brains, I’d have to agree.
f.lux is helping me.
It allows me to work later, or in the early mornings, without harming my eyes or impacting my sleep.
These 5 quick health hacks have helped me so much to make momentum with my health. Small, easy and identifiable improvements for my overall wellness. They require minimal money and time investment.
An ongoing goal of mine will continue to be improving my health and fitness.
What’s working for your health?
What health hacks have you learned and implemented?
Do you have a big area of improvement or goal for you health?
Let me know in the comments below.
I am constantly on the lookout for apps, services, exercises, books and anything else that can help improve my health.
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