Health is the most important thing in our lives, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to look and feel your best.
Read more: 12 ways to reduce your medical costs
21 things you can do to get healthy
If you’re serious about working out and losing weight, there are strategies to get the job done without spending hundreds of dollars a month on special diet and exercise programs.
Read on for some simple ways to improve your health that are absolutely free:
1. Get moving
You don’t need an expensive gym membership to get in shape! All you need is your smartphone.
Download one of the various free 7-Minute Workout apps and challenge yourself to 12 high-intensity exercises in a short amount of time.
Supplement this at-home routine with brisk walking or jogging around your neighborhood.
2. Eat with your non-dominant hand
If you catch yourself overeating, try using your non-dominant hand. One study found it can reduce food intake by 30%. We should warn you that this could get messy!
Here are some other tips to control your portions:
- Don’t eat in front of any screen (TV, computer, smartphone)
- Eat on smaller plates
- Cook smaller portions to eliminate temptation
- Sit down at a table to eat
- Cut up your food
- Chew your food thoroughly
- Put leftovers away before you eat
- Brush your teeth or chew gum after eating
- Set silverware down after every bite
- Use a tall, thin glass to cut down on drinking
3. Check your hearing
Are you one of the 36 million Americans suffering from significant hearing loss? Most of those affected have never had their hearing tested before.
Take the first step with this free 10-minute phone test.
4. Wash before you wear
Do you wash new clothes before you put them on? If not, you better start. Health experts say it can get rid of dangerous bacteria that could harm your sensitive skin.
5. Drink up
We’ve all heard the recommendation about drinking eight glasses of water a day, and the free Water Drink Reminder app makes it so easy to accomplish that!
You can set up smartphone alerts throughout the day to remind yourself to drink more water.
And consider starting your day with a glass of warm water in the morning. Experts say it will flush out toxins and keep your digestive system on track.
Read more about why the temperature of your water matters.
6. Detach from work
If you’re constantly breaking away from family time to respond to emails from your boss, researchers say that habit could lead to exhaustion.
In fact, France recently banned employees from checking work email on their time off.
7. Donate to charity
Psychologists have long said that giving to others can make you happier, so gather up some old belongings and bring them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.
Not only will you be helping people, your donations to these organizations are tax deductible.
8. Pour a glass of chocolate milk
Chocolate milk is certainly not considered a health food, but some personal trainers say it does a great job at re-hydrating people after vigorous exercise.
One study funded by the Dairy Farmers of Canada says chocolate milk may be better than sports drinks.
9. Sweet dreams
If you can’t seem to get a full eight hours of sleep, try the 10-3-2-1-0 rule to wake up feeling more refreshed and with energy to last throughout the day.
- 10 hours before bed — No more caffeine
- 3 hours before bed – No more food or alcohol
- 2 hours before bed – No more work
- 1 hour before bed – No more screen time
- 0 – The number of times you will hit the snooze button
And if this doesn’t work, there’s research to support the idea of splitting your sleep into two shifts to fight insomnia.
10. Count calories
Can’t seem to drop the weight? You’re probably consuming too many calories.
MyFitnessPal features a popular calorie counter that monitors your diet and exercise in about five minutes a day. Download the free app to track your weight loss on the go.
Tamara lost 141 pound using MyFitnessPal. Great job!
11. Step away from the screen
Too much time staring at a smartphone, TV or computer screen can cause all sorts of problems.
In children, excessive “screen time” has been linked to sleeping problems, weight gain and mental health issues – like anxiety and depression.
It’s recommended that kids get less than two hours a day of “screen time.”
12. Take ALL of your vacation
Even if you think you have too much work on your plate to go on vacation, it’s so important that you use every last day that you’ve earned — and Clark says so!
Rest, relax and re-charge your batteries – even a staycation will do!
13. Don’t forget lunch
Are you eating lunch at your desk? You may want to stop.
A recent study found that even just 30 minutes a day away from your desk can reduce burnout, increase energy and boost productivity for the rest of the day.
Here’s more about the study in case you want to share it with your boss.
14. Ditch these supplements
If you take dietary supplements, you may want to check the label for these ingredients, which a Consumer Reports investigation found can make people sick.
- Caffeine Powder
- Greater Celandine
- Green Tea Extract Powder
- Pennyroyal Oil
- Red Yeast Rice
- Usnic Acid
Instead of supplements with these ingredients, make changes to your diet or exercise routine.
15. Set aside worry time
Are you constantly worrying about things going wrong? Schedule “worry time” and spend 15 minutes a night writing down what’s on your mind.
If you start to worry during the day, tell yourself that you’ll worry about it at your designated time.
16. Listen to some tunes
Music therapy has shown promise in treating people with clinical depression, but it can also be effective for those of us who are just having a bad day.
Create different playlists for different moods, like calming music used in relaxation tapes.
17. Write down your goals
We all have goals, but when’s the last time you wrote them down on paper? Studies have shown that written goals are more likely to be achieved.
Remember the acronym ‘SMART’ when creating your goals:
18. Read a book
If you want to live longer, keep reading! Researchers say they found book readers live an average of two years longer than people who don’t read at all.
Does reading articles on Clark.com count? We sure hope it does!
19. Weigh yourself!
What’s the best way to control your weight? Besides diet and exercise, a study found people who weigh themselves daily are more likely to lose weight and keep it off.
Clark says he has been doing this for about 10 years – and it works for him.
20. Enjoy some green tea
A staple in almost every Asian household, there’s so much nutrition in a cup of green tea that some doctors think it’s even healthier than water, according to WebMD.
Though water is cheaper, one serving of green tea will only cost you about $.09.
21. Get tested
It really doesn’t matter how young or old you are, there are some important health tests and screenings that you can’t afford to skip.
For example, when’s the last time you checked your blood pressure or cholesterol?
Since these tests and many others are preventive, your insurance will likely cover them at no cost to you during an annual wellness exam.
Here’s a complete list of recommendations by age and gender.
Read more: Top health insurers for 2016