Live longer, sleep better, feel calmer with the best health hacks of 2023

From mental health to physical fitness, healthy living doesn’t need to be complicated.

Small changes can make a big difference in how you feel, and simple tests can provide surprisingly big insights into your life, as we’ve learned throughout this year.

Here are the 10 best health hacks discovered by TODAY.com in 2023. We hope they help you move forward in 2024!

Just 11 minutes of walking daily improves health

It doesn’t take much time to get healthy. A review of studies found that just 11 minutes a day of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, could reduce the risk of developing heart disease by 17% and cancer by 7%. This amount of daily exercise comes with a 23% lower risk of premature death.

A separate study found that walking 8,000 steps just once or twice per week could be enough to significantly reduce the risk of death over 10 years.

Wall Squats Can Lower Blood Pressure

Exercise can lower blood pressure without medication, so experts are urging doctors to prescribe it for people with high blood pressure.

But what type of exercise is best? A review of studies shows that it is isometric exercises, where you tense the muscles without contracting them, specifically the wall squat.

It’s simple, but incredibly intense. The lead author of the review suggests performing four wall squats lasting 2 minutes, separated by rest intervals of 1 to 4 minutes. This should be done three times per week to help reduce blood pressure.

The wall squat is simple, but incredibly intense.Filippobachi/Getty Images

Try the Stand-Sit Test to see how healthy you are

Start from a standing position, then sit cross-legged on the ground and then stand again without using your hands.

NBC News medical contributor Dr. Natalie Azar says this simple test is an effective indicator of health because you have to have strong cardiovascular health, good balance, agility, flexibility, and core and leg strength to be able to complete it. Needed

Tart Cherry Juice May Help You Sleep

After the remedy went viral on TikTok, experts tell TODAY.com that tart cherry juice may be worth trying as a natural sleep aid, but only after checking with your doctor.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, tart cherries contain melatonin and tryptophan, which help with sleep because they increase the amount of melatonin in the body.

Small studies have shown that adults who drank tart cherry juice in the evening increased their sleep time.

Choose a brand that doesn’t have added sugar and consume it with other foods that can induce sleep, such as cheese, high in tryptophan, or almonds, which have high melatonin, says nutritionist Bonnie Taub, a registered dietitian. Dix advises.

Try Pickle Juice to Prevent Muscle Cramps

Athletes sometimes drink pickle juice during intense exertion because it can make muscle cramps less severe.

Pickle juice does not prevent muscle cramps from developing; Rather, it prevents them from occurring at that moment, researchers tell TODAY.com. The acid in the salt water triggers a nerve response in the throat, which sends a signal to the spinal cord to stop the spasm.

The next time you have muscle cramps, try drinking a spoonful of juice from a vinegared pickle jar for relief.

Silent walking can help you feel calm

Mental health exercises include taking a walk alone in nature, without distractions and away from crowds.

The idea is to be mindful of each breath and each step, listen to the sounds of nature around you, feel gratitude towards the sun kissing your skin and use the time for reflection, says Lalah, author of the mindfulness book Vibrate Higher Daily. Delia said. tells TODAY.com.

She adds, Zen Buddhist monks have long practiced silent walking under a different name, walking meditation.

Health benefits include reducing stress, building a deeper connection with yourself, and lowering blood pressure and heart rate.

Which wine is healthiest?

The World Health Organization warns that no level of alcohol is safe for health. But experts say if people choose to drink alcohol in moderation, there are some preferred alternatives.

One of them is a glass of champagne or sparkling white wine, which contains about 100 calories. Nutritionists say stick to dry white wine or dry sparkling wine, which doesn’t have added sugar like other beverages.

Prevent weight gain in midlife with simple food swaps

Researchers found that when it comes to weight gain after 40, starches are a bigger problem than sugar.

They recommend focusing on the quality of carbohydrates by swapping out some carbs for others.

One study found that people who ate more whole grains, fruits and non-starchy vegetables weighed less in midlife than their peers who ate sweet, starchy diets.

Bird test can tell how long your relationship will last

The test, which went viral on TikTok, involves pointing a bird at your significant other and seeing how they react.

Proponents of the bird test say that if they respond with genuine interest or are otherwise curious about why you’re paying attention to the bird, there’s a good chance you’re in for a strong, long-lasting relationship. Are in.

However, if your partner is unaware of the bird, the relationship is considered less healthy.

Get Rid of Clutter with Swedish Death Cleaning

The new year is all about new beginnings and letting go of old habits and things that weigh you down.

This is where Swedish Death Cleansing can help with the concept that Swedish author Margaretha Magnusson introduced to the rest of the world. The idea, she writes in her latest book, is that when we die we shouldn’t leave a mountain of mess for our loved ones to clean up.

When cleaning, people often have difficulty getting rid of items that really should be thrown out, but that have sentimental value. If that’s the case, take a photo of the item, thank it, then let it go, she advises.

Keep it open and organized. This is the way to live. Don’t hoard things, Magnuson told TODAY.com.

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