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Improve Your Health in 5 Minutes Each Day

Try these five quick ways to boost your health.

Medically reviewed in August 2020

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Think getting healthy is a sprint? Not so, says Keith Roach, MD, associate professor in clinical medicine in the division of general medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and New York Presbyterian Hospital and a member of Sharecare’s advisory board. “It’s not that you can say, I’m going to take these three days and get myself healthy,” he says. “That won’t work. What makes you healthy and keeps you healthy are the everyday activities that you do.”

While there is no quick fix to boosting your long-term well-being, you also don’t need to devote hours to developing good daily habits. Try these ways to feel healthier in only five minutes a day.

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Put On Your Running Shoes

Hitting a treadmill or outdoor trail is a smart idea for your health, but did you know that running just 5 to 10 minutes a day can give your well-being a boost? Researchers at Iowa State University and the Cooper Center in Dallas assessed the health and physical activity of approximately 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 to 100, then followed up with them for about 15 years. Those who ran on a weekly basis reduced their mortality risk from heart disease or stroke by 40 percent when compared to those who didn’t run at all. Researchers also found that those who ran for just 5 to 10 minutes a day at a slower pace had the same mortality benefits as those who ran three hours or more per week.

young woman sitting on a couch
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GET OFF THE SOFA

Do you tend to end up on the couch when you get home? Well, two words may get you out of your comfy position: heart failure. In a 2014 study of 82,000 men aged 45 and older published in Circulation: Heart Failure, researchers found that sitting five or more hours a day outside of time on the job increased risk of heart failure.

“Humans weren’t meant to sit for long periods,” says Dr. Roach. “Your heart needs to work.” He adds that standing at length isn’t good either, since it’s bad for your feet and knees.

Ideally, you should alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. If you have a desk job, try a standing desk to break up your day. You can also take short breaks to stand and stretch every hour.

women talking at a restaurant
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Make a Date

Making a social connection means great health benefits. But it takes more than chitchatting about Ozark or This Is Us. “What’s important is having someone you can talk to about big, important things,” says Roach. “Confiding in someone else and letting them confide in you will boost your health.”

Sending texts, messages or emails isn’t always enough, either. “By phone or in person is best,” he explains. “It’s hard to put emotional context in typing, and that’s what this is really about.”

girl feeding her father
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SNACK ON SOME PRODUCE

You know that eating fruits and veggies is good for you, but did you know it’s linked to a lower chance of premature death? A meta-analysis of 95 studies published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2017 found that people who ate the most fruits and vegetables had a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and all-cause mortality than those who ate the least. Citrus fruits, apples, pears, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts) seemed to be particularly beneficial.

young woman meditating at her desk
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Take a Break

Think you’re too busy at work or home to take some time for yourself? Think again. “We’re always running around trying to do things,” says Roach.

But he says that just five minutes of practicing relaxation, mindfulness or breathing techniques can reduce stress—and this break may even help with your work.

“Relaxing for five minutes can help your mind focus,” says Roach. “It also helps you get centered, decreases those stress levels and stress hormones and does lots of good things for your body.”

Sources:

D Lee, RR Pate, et al. “Leisure-Time Running Reduces All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality Risk.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Volume 64, Issue 5, August 2014.
DR Young, K Reynolds, et al. “Effects of Physical Activity and Sedentary Time on the Risk of Heart Failure.” Circulation: Heart Failure. 2014;7:21–27.
D Aune, E Giovannucci, et al. “Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality—a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” International Journal of Epidemiology. Volume 46, Issue 3, June 2017, Pages 1029–1056.

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