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Best Health Boosters for Busy People

Best Health Boosters for Busy People

We know that you're busier than a starlet at The Ivy. But you can still get the CD for your friend's birthday made, the dishes and laundry done, and the squeak in your car looked at -- AND eat healthy meals and get physical activity. These multitaskers help you do it all throughout your day . . . and destress, too:

Cut your workout short. But make it harder. Guys who did four to six go-for-broke 30-second sprints on a bike got the same gains in muscle fitness as those who went for 90 to 120 minutes at a moderate pace. In a different study, the same type of sprints improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, meaning it decreased their risk for unhealthy blood sugar and, eventually, diabetes. Total calorie burn was a puny 250, so you'll still need longer workouts if you're looking to torch fat. But for your health, short, fast intervals will get you somewhere.

Slim down while you wait for coffee. Okay, you can't lose 5 pounds just standing in line, but you can work on the good posture that will make you look like you've dropped a few. Tomorrow, instead of eavesdropping on other customers, focus on proper posture: back straight, butt in, chest out, shoulders back, head high, jaw aligned, making sure your top and bottom teeth aren't touching each other. Feel good? Practice this every day (sitting and standing), and you'll be amazed at the changes in how you look and feel.

When you get to the counter, consider ordering green tea. Odds are increasingly good that this brew helps cut your risk of cancer, keep blood pressure healthy, protect your memory, and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Smarten your commute. Although Americans spend more than 100 hours per year commuting, and Canadians spend a whopping 275, that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Commuting can provide important transition time between work and home and can be the perfect time to practice destress strategies. Start by unclenching your jaw and loosening your white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel. Then, see if you can identify the true source of your stress so you don't lash out at traffic, your kids, or the computer that doesn't boot up fast enough when you get home.

Better yet, get your workout and your commute done at the same time by riding your bike or walking to work and back. Right, like that'll work on a cold Canadian day. Okay, commute with a buddy and stop at the gym -- both of you.

Make a to-do list. Takes a minute; saves you far more than that. Creating a clear game plan for what you want to (realistically) accomplish helps you attack your day, so you don't get bogged down in unimportant details that eat up your time. The payoff: less stress and more time to enjoy the coffee you just poured.

Create a new elevator ritual. If you can't take the stairs, use elevator time to lower your stress -- which also happens to lower your risk of accidents, infections, and arterial aging (not to mention it will dramatically reduce the likelihood that you'll bite off the head of the next person who talks to you). Simply use the time between floors to take stress-busting deep breaths: Take about five counts to inhale and seven to exhale from your belly. Let go of stress and fight off wrinkles with this breathing exercise.

Wake up and firm up. Rescue yourself from a midmeeting snooze by working on your abdominal strength. Just suck your belly button in tight. Then, squeeze your butt as if you're trying to pull on a pair of too-tight jeans, and pretend your head is being pulled toward the ceiling by a string. Hold that position. Nobody will know anything other than you look far more alert than they do.

Demand great entertainment. Don't fizz out in front of the TV unless what you're watching really warrants your attention. Turning it off 10 minutes into something that's just not trying hard enough gives you 20 extra minutes to walk, to pull some healthy recipes from the Web, to put together a new playlist for your walk, or even to shop for a smaller belt online. Or, yes, to make time for between-the-sheets fun. C'mon, it doesn't take that much time, and it definitely facilitates a healthy relationship, which makes everything go more smoothly when you're not in bed.

Medically reviewed in August 2019.

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