Make over your health in 60 minutes or less with these fun and simple activitiesBy: Emily G. W. Chau
Instead of sleeping through the end of Daylight Savings Time, dedicate that “extra” hour to shaping up your health. Take a moment to drink another glass of water, hop on your bike for a 45-minute ride, or try one of these other simple strategies to improve how you look and feel. But the truth of the matter is you don’t need more hours in a day to eat healthfully or burn additional calories. You can easily practice the following beneficial habits on any jam-packed day of the year. Fit them in on the day that we “fall back,” and then maintain your healthy efforts throughout the fall, winter, and beyond.
Chill Out to Burn Fat
Sip Green Tea
You’ve heard that green tea may boost your metabolism, and now here’s another reason to cozy up with a cup. A 2011 study reported that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a compound in green tea, can help slow down weight gain. Researchers from Penn State University found that rats that received an EGCG supplement while on a fatty diet gained weight 45% slower than mice on a similar diet without the supplement. They also gained 30% less fat.
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Down a Glass of Water
A simple solution to better athletic performance and weight loss: Just add water. It’s estimated that 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated, and when you’re dehydrated at the gym your sets feel harder, your heart rate is higher, and your core temperature rises. To stay properly hydrated, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends you drink 2 to 3 cups of water about 2 to 3 hours before your sweat session. Drinking the same amount before a meal has also been shown to help people cut back on calories.
Search: How many glasses of water should I drink a day?
Lay Out Your Gym Clothes
Increase your chances of hitting up the gym in the morning by laying out your workout clothes the night before. Morning exercisers are not only more consistent than those who work out later in the day, but also may be getting a better workout. New research suggests that a.m. sessions are more beneficial than exercising in the afternoon or at night. Appalachian State University researchers found that people who exercised at 7 a.m. slept better and saw a 10% greater drop in blood pressure during the day and a 25% drop at night compared with those who hit the gym later in the day.
Make a Playlist
Listening to your own pump-up tunes can pump up your performance, according to a 2011 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Researchers found that men who lifted to music that they had picked themselves launched with more force and velocity during squat jumps than when they didn’t listen to tunes at all. They also had a bigger mood boost at the end of their workout than those who exercised in silence.
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Find Your Zen
Meditating for 10 minutes twice a day not only helps you tap into your inner peace, but also has real physical benefits, according to a study conducted by the Medical College of Georgia. After performing deep-breathing meditation exercises, students with high-normal blood pressure saw a drop in blood pressure that lasted throughout the day and a decrease in urinary sodium excretion. Researchers believe that meditation may be part of a treatment plan for hypertension.
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Walk Around Your Block
You don’t need to dedicate hours to the gym to reap the rewards. Just getting your heart pumping for 15 minutes a day can add another 3 years to your life, says Taiwanese researchers who looked at 400,000 people over 13 years. They found that those who fit in just a quarter of an hour of moderate exercise had a greater life expectancy than their sedentary counterparts.
Discover 17 more ways to a longer life.
Book a Mini Massage
Turn down the lights, turn up the Enya. Healthy adults who received a 20-minute head, neck, and shoulders massage experienced a decreased heart rate and blood pressure levels after their therapy session, say British researchers. Not surprising, the massage put the participants in a better mood and they felt less muscle tension afterward.
No one around to give a relaxing rubdown? Self-massage has a number of benefits, too. After a running workout, try one of these DIY massage techniques to ease tension and recover faster.
Cook a Simple Supper
You don’t need to resort to dinner à la drive-thru when you’re pressed for time. Whip up your own fast food in a half-hour or less with one of these 30-minute chicken recipes. Home-cooked dishes don’t have to take a lot of time to prepare and have been shown to promote family bonding. Plus, they’re lower in fat and calories than restaurant fare. USDA researchers found that when children ate at fast food restaurants, they tucked in 187 more calories than when they ate at home.
Grab Your Wheels and Go
Cycling not only burns calories while you’re on the bike, but also boosts your metabolism for hours afterward. A 2011 study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that cyclists burned an average of 520 calories during a 45-minute stint on their bikes, and torched an additional 190 calories for the next 14 hours.
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Take a Dance Class
Pop and lock your way to a better body. Korean researchers randomly assigned students to 1 hour of aerobic exercise, body conditioning, hip-hop dancing, or ice-skating, and found that those who took the aerobic exercise and dance classes reported feeling happier and less tired than those in the other two classes. Dancing doesn’t just have psychological benefits. Perfecting your two-step has also been shown to strengthen your lower body, increase flexibility, and improve balance.
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