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Weekly wellness challenge

Weekly wellness challenges to improve your health

Improve your health without getting overwhelmed by trying a new wellness challenge each week or a few times a month.

  1. Eat mindfully. For the next week, stash your mobile phone in your purse, pocket or drawer while you are eating. When you ditch the distracting devices, you can actually focus on savoring your food and enjoying your mealtime companions.

  2. Fight sitting disease. For the next week, convert one of your meetings to a walking meeting and let the ideas flow with each step. Too much sitting negatively impacts the body’s metabolic system and may increase your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers (breast and colon).

  3. Make simple, healthy food swaps. You don’t have to sacrifice the foods you love to be healthier. Try swapping a few of your usual staples for a healthier option.

  4. Exercise smarter, not longer. Want to burn more calories without spending extra time at the gym? It sounds too good to be true, but interval training’s benefits are well-proven.

  5. Improve your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can lead to serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, increased risk for heart disease, a weakened ability to fight infections, pain syndromes, sleep disorders and obesity. Try these stress management tips.

  6. Expand your palate. This week, your challenge is to try a few new foods you haven’t eaten before, like these superfoods.

  7. Eat your veggies. It is recommended that adult women consume 2.5 cups of vegetables every day. Adult men should consume 3 cups of vegetables each day. Try these tips to eat more vegetables every day.

  8. Enjoy nature’s candy. It is recommended that adult women consume 1.5 cups of fruit every day. Adult men should consume 2 cups of fruit each day.

  9. Measure your waistline. Did you know that if you carry most of your fat around your waist, you are at a greater risk for developing certain health problems than a person who carries most of their fat around their hips and thighs?

  10. Renew your exercise motivation. Who doesn’t want to look and feel good, have more energy, and be happier and healthier? But despite all the benefits of exercise, it can still be difficult to get started and stick to a routine. Try these tips to get motivated to exercise.

  11. Keep a food journal. Tracking what you eat and drink provides a different and more thoughtful perspective on how and when you are taking nourishment and/or mindlessly munching.

  12. Downsize your dinnerware. Using smaller dishes can trick your mind into thinking you’re eating more, which makes you feel satisfied with smaller serving sizes. Try using an 8-inch dinner plate or salad plate instead of the normal 10-inch size and see if this trick works for you.

  13. Sit up straight. Keeping good posture will not only strengthen your core, but will also add a small extra calorie burn because you're working slightly harder to maintain the position.

  14. Start resistance training. In addition to strengthening your muscles, resistance exercise can improve and maintain bone density, relieve arthritis pain, improve balance, decrease depression and help sustain long-term weight loss.

  15. Go nuts. Replace a less-than-healthy crunchy treat like chips, crackers or pretzels with heart-healthy nuts. Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, protein, antioxidants, and fiber. Plus, they’re easily portable, have anti-inflammatory properties and satisfy your hunger. 

  16. Start a stretching routine. Stretching can take as little as five to 10 minutes and can increase range of motion, decrease joint pain, relieve tension, and improve athletic performance, balance and posture.  

  17. Adopt the gratitude attitude. Count your blessings and not your burdens. A recent study found that individuals who think of gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health.

  18. Choose healthier fats. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to cut out dietary fat to lose weight. In fact, fat is an important part of a healthy diet and, in moderation, certain fats are actually good for your heart.

  19. Spice up your meals. Herbs and spices can take healthy-but-bland foods from so-so to so amazing – without any extra fat or calories.

  20. Practice deep breathing for relaxation and stress relief. Try these yoga breathing techniques to get started.

  21. Stay hydrated. Are you drinking enough water each day? Try these tips to prevent dehydration.

  22. Take time for something you enjoy. Go for a walk with your family, cook a healthy meal or read the book that’s been on your nightstand for months. You deserve time to recharge!

  23. Get a massage. Whether it’s a quick shoulder rub from a loved one or a spa indulgence, massages decrease pain and tension, improve blood flow and increase your sense of well-being.

  24. Take a 20-minute walk three times this week. Simply walk 10 minutes away from your house, then turn around and walk 10 minutes back. Or take a few laps around your office complex during lunch. Short walks are a great way to get moving without disrupting your busy schedule.

  25. Cut back on salt. Your heart will thank you! For just one week, resist the urge to salt your food when cooking or at the table. Instead, use fresh herbs, spices and citrus juice for a pop of flavor. After seven days, you may realize your meals didn’t need much salt in the first place.

  26. Strengthen your core. Strong abdominals not only look attractive, but also protect your back from injury, improve your posture, increase balance and make everyday chores easier. This core-toning routine with get you started.

  27. Go meatless! Swap meat for a vegetarian protein source in a few meals this week. Quinoa, black beans or lentils with rice, Greek yogurt, tempeh and eggs are all good sources of protein.

  28. Get your beauty rest! This week, aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Crunched for time? Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual each night and gradually work up to 7 hours a night. Getting enough rest promotes weight loss, reduces stress levels, improves your memory and decreases inflammation in the body. 

  29. Enjoy tea time. Brew a cup of tea – preferably green – at least three times this week. Tea has numerous health benefits, from fighting cancer-causing free radicals to promoting weight loss.  

  30. Practice meditation. Sit quietly for at least 5 minutes and focus on a single positive thought or on your breath. Meditation can quiet a busy mind and reduce stress. It may also help with medical conditions that are worsened by stress.  

  31. Exercise your brain and keep your mind sharp. This week, read a book from a different genre, download a brainteaser app, learn a few words in another language or use your less dominant hand for everyday tasks. 

  32. Be a label lover. This week, take time to read the nutrition labels on the food you consume. In addition to calories, pay attention to fat, sugar, sodium and nutrients – all play a role in your body’s health. 

  33. De-clutter your schedule. It seems everyone is super busy these days, but having too much on your plate can be detrimental to your physical and emotional well-being. Feel free to say no to unnecessary requests and delegate if possible. When you free up your schedule from unimportant tasks, you have time for what truly matters.

  34. Improve your “heart” health. This week, take care of a chore your spouse usually handles, pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru or volunteer with a charity organization. Brightening someone else’s day can do wonders for your own mood and stress level. 

  35. Be a good food influence. Try out a few healthy appetizer recipes, then bring your favorite to your next holiday gathering. Party dishes are usually loaded extra calories, fat and salt, but with so many delicious, nutritious recipes online, you’re bound to find an option that will still wow your friends and family.

  36. Snack smarter. This week, pack healthy snacks to eat during the day. Eating a small snack (less than 200 calories) twice a day keeps your metabolism and blood sugar levels steady. You’ll be less tempted by unhealthy snacks at the office and you can save your calories for a weekly indulgence, like a slice of homemade pie at a party. 

  37. Start a new fitness tradition. Gather your family and friends for a post-dinner walk, turn on some tunes and have a dance party, or play an active video game. Family bonding + calorie burning = a win for everyone!

  38. Make a resolution you can keep. Set a realistic goal, like losing five pounds in two months or cooking three healthy meals a week. By focusing on small, manageable goals, you set yourself up for success. As the year progresses, you can take on even bigger challenges.

  39. Take your health in your hands. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 15 seconds after using the restroom and before eating – every time. Good hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of serious illnesses, like the flu and diarrhea. 

  40. Be present. In our busy lives, we forget to slow down and experience the simple pleasures of food and activity. Eat slowly and experience the flavors, textures, sights and smells. Notice when you feel hungry or comfortably full. When you exercise, appreciate the sensations and feelings of the present moment and your surroundings. Being grounded in the present moment helps you relax and connect to your body, mind, and spirit. 

  41. Rebound from setbacks. Your eating and exercise habits do not need to be perfect. It’s normal to have slip-ups. Your reaction to the setback is key to maintaining your long-term success. 

Get more Living Better healthy lifestyle tips.

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