5 Health Upgrades for Busy People

5 Health Upgrades for Busy People

If you don’t think you have time for exercise, healthy meals or stress-busting techniques, you’re not alone. Surveys report that crazy-busy schedules keep around 42% of North Americans from exercising and 21% from cooking and relaxing. One survey of time-starved people even reported that 58% of them said they’d happily shell out $2,725 to fit an extra hour into their day!

But smart folks like you don’t have to shell out big bucks to find time to do what you know is good for you. Research reveals amazing ways you can attain your health goals in tiny tidbits of time: 

Get a great cardio work-out in 12 minutes. In an exciting study from Canada’s McMaster University, overweight people who normally didn’t exercise boosted their fitness with this speedy routine: A two-minute warm-up, followed by 3, two-minute interval work-outs. For each interval, exercise as hard as you safely can for 20 seconds, followed by two minutes of recovery at a slow pace. Do it two more times. End with a 3-minute cool-down.

Study volunteers used exercise bikes, but you could try doing it while walking on a treadmill or even marching or jogging in place in your living room. Study volunteers did it three times a week. After six weeks, their endurance and blood pressure had improved.  

Weigh in for weight loss.  The more often you weigh yourself, the more weight you’ll lose, finds a study from Cornell University and Finland’s Tempere University of Technology. If you don’t want to step on the scale every day, once a week works, the researchers found. They analyzed a year’s worth of weigh-ins from 40 dieters. Weight began to creep up in those who hadn’t weighed themselves for about six days. Seems when you know the truth about your weight you can’t as easily rationalize eating extra calories or acting like a couch-potato.

Get a handle on your health and banish isolation using health-boosting apps. In one new survey, just 18% of Canadians over age 50 used computer apps to manage their diabetes and just 5% used smartphone apps -- even though most owned the technology to run them. These tools can help improve blood sugar significantly without spending hardly any time messing with them. And some put you in touch with other folks working toward the same blood sugar control goals as you are -- and that support makes everyone more successful!

Plenty of other apps also exist that are designed to help you manage your weight, fitness, blood pressure and more. Step counters and fitness trackers are like a friendly good conscience sitting on your shoulder. There are even apps to make grocery store shopping purchases more healthy. And there’s a bonus: In another study, older adults who got trained to use social media felt less isolated, because they could connect with friends and loved ones without leaving home.

Take a 15-minute stroll after lunch for better blood sugar, weight and mood. A 15-minute stroll after meals can help control your blood sugar, says a study from George Washington University. That’s big news for the 29 million Americans with diabetes and the 83 million more with prediabetes. And you know how we feel about the cardio benefits of walking 10,000 steps a day -- they’re huge! Getting outdoors in the sunshine can also help reset your body clock for better sleep and a brighter mood, too.

Make the healthy dessert decision: Go for fruit. Added sugars may be more dangerous than too much salt for high blood pressure. The worst sources are commercial desserts packed with the known food felons: added sugars and sugar syrups, saturated fat and artery-clogging trans fats. Keeping your favorite fruit on hand is a great way to get more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidant-boosting phytochemicals. They’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, give you more energy and a sunnier outlook on your day.

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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