By La Tonya Allen-Brown, First Mile Care DPP Coach

As the new year begins, you can probably use some suggestions for replacing the bad or lazy behaviors you may have developed over the past three years of pandemic living with some new healthier habits that can lead you to a vigorous and (hopefully) happier and longer life.

“I don’t have time to …”  — exercise, cook, read, meditate, take your pick —  is an easy excuse. The thing is, there are many tiny adjustments you can make to your daily life that require little time or effort but, over time, can have a big positive cumulative impact. 

Here are 15 suggestions for activities that take less than 15 minutes — sometimes much less. You probably won’t do them all, and not every day, but pick and choose what could work for you.

Physical wellness

1. Stand up and stretch at least every half-hour — and remain standing for 5-15 minutes, whether in a meeting, watching TV, or folding laundry.

2. Walk 15 minutes twice a day, hitting at least 150 minutes each week as advised in the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program.

3. Lift weights or use resistance bands to build strength through repetitions.

4. Apply sunscreen of SPF 30 even on overcast days, as per the recommendation of the  American Academy of Dermatology.

Healthy eating

5. Fix a snack like chopped veggies with a healthy dip to keep on hand instead of eating chips.

6. Infuse a pitcher of water with chopped fruit and/or herbs to have in the fridge to drink instead of sugary sodas. (You’ll save money, too!)

7. Keep a food journal to track what and how much you consume to reveal the patterns of eating and drinking and the  link to your moods.

Mental acuity 

8. Do a puzzle (crossword, sudoku, Wordle,  jigsaw, etc. ) to sharpen your analytical skills.

9. Use an app to teach yourself a new skill, like a one-word–a-day new language.

10. Read a book or listen to an audiobook to flex your ability to concentrate.

11. Check your blood pressure regularly with an at-home monitor, as high BP can be linked to various health issues including cognitive decline.

Emotional well-being

12. Take a quick “do not disturb” break for a nap or meditation.

13. Set a time limit on checking social media accounts to limit negative input and doomscrolling.

14. Phone (not text) a loved one as it can relieve stress, reduce loneliness, and accentuate positive thoughts — for both of you.

15. Choose one thing on your to-do list to work on each day; the progress will make you feel better even if the finish line is a long way off.

When you’re trying to swap out habits, qualified guidance and peer support are invaluable to maintaining your motivation to reach your goals and to avoid lapses into old behavioral patterns and practices. Ask your doctor if you qualify for a Diabetes Prevention Program with certified DPP coaches in your neighborhood.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the First Mile Care Diabetes Prevention Program, take the prediabetes risk test and get started today!