Wouldn’t it be great to feel your best for all the warm weather fun? Forget complicated diets and workouts — it’s easy to shore up benefits fast with these quick health tips!
An eye mask lulls you to sleep 50% faster.
No need to count sheep in the hopes that you’ll fall asleep. Pop an eye mask in the dryer for 5 minutes before bed, then put in on while it’s still toasty. Japanese scientists say this helps you doze off 50 percent faster. Warming skin around the eyes draws heat away from your core, and the cooling effect on your body sends drowsiness signals to your brain.
Protect your heart with shorter strolls.
You can get the heart-smart benefits of exercise without spending long hours at the gym. Simply pick up the pace a bit when you’re out running errands.
A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that a few minutes of moderate-intensity activity here and there during the day wards off heart disease as effectively as a long workout. And racking up 60 minutes a day of these “mini moves” cuts heart attack risk by 57 percent. Why? So long as your daily exercise total adds up to an hour, it doesn’t matter if you do it in 5-minute bursts of everyday activities or all at once.
Or sip juice! That glass of OJ you drank this morning counts toward your five daily servings of fruit and vegetables. And it’ll lower your risk of heart trouble, British scientists say. Juice brims with the same disease-fighting nutrients in whole produce.
Melt tension with a quick time-out.
When stress spikes — say, from an overloaded to-do list — you don’t need health tips that recommend a long stretch of meditation or deep, slow breathing sessions to bring back calm. Instead, lie back in a comfortable spot with your eyes closed, and you’ll feel nearly 40 percent more peaceful within 10 minutes, reveals a new study from Germany’s University of Konstanz. Lying quietly activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for ratcheting down anxiety. Plus, it markedly improves heart rate variability, a key measure of calmness. The result: When you get back up, you’ll be relaxed and ready to get back to your day.
Or seek ducklings! Treat yourself to an activity that fully absorbs your attention, like feeding ducks at a pond — or tending flowers, and it’ll reverse stress within minutes, a new Chinese study shows. This kind of fun spurs a “flow” state, where you forget about your worries and get a near-instant lift in your spirits.
Lose more weight by snapping a photo.
Here’s an easy way to keep track of calories: Before each meal, simply snap a picture of your plate with your smartphone. As many as 75 percent of folks who track their meals like this lose weight, Stanford scientists say. And the results are impressive: A study in Obesity Research & Clinical Practice shows that meal trackers shed an average of 2 BMI points within three months, equal to 10 to 15 pounds.
Recording what you eat makes you aware of your food intake, so you reduce it to stay on track. Or pop a mint! Doing so after eating nixes the urge to go back for more. Research in Appetite shows that a minty flavor removes sweet, salty and savory tastes on y
Bolster muscles by soaking up the sun.
To boost strength without having to pick up a dumbbell, head outdoors midday for 10 minutes sans sunscreen. This ups vitamin D production, which increases the number and thickness of muscle cells. Proof: Brazilian scientists say women in their 50s and 60s who got a daily dose of D saw a 25 percent increase in strength in nine months, while those who skipped it weakened.
Or eat tuna tacos! Washington University School of Medicine scientists say enjoying oily fish like tuna or salmon a few times a week curbs inflammation, allowing muscles to grow faster.
Boost memory with a bird trick.
Want even more easy health tips? While brushing your teeth or on the phone, act like a flamingo and lift one leg. German scientists say improving your balance significantly improves memory within 12 weeks. That’s because exercises that keep you steady on your feet increase the volume of regions of the brain responsible for memory.
Or turn on tunes! Cuing up songs that fit your mood (say U2’s “Beautiful Day” when happy) improves recall. A new U.K. study found that matching emotional cues in music with your feelings helps the brain retrieve stored information.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.