You can read books and blog posts all day, but until you take action, none if it matters. Until you take action, you won’t see results.
If you truly desire greater health and happiness, you need to focus your time and energy on things that help you to feel strong, powerful and alive.
To help you out, here are 21 quick actions you can take today to help you on your path.
Don’t get overwhelmed or feel like you have to tackle all of these at once. Simply take 10, 30, or 60 minutes and devote it to one conscious health promoting activity.
Action #1: Run/Walk Barefoot (10-30 Minutes)
Find a field, park, or trail. Walk or run without shoes for 10 or more minutes.
How this can revolutionize your health: Nothing promotes present moment awareness better than bare-footing. Nothing brings us fully into our bodies and wakes us up to the sensations of life better than a walk, run or hike shoeless. Though seemingly treacherous at first glance, bare-footing really isn’t as dangerous as it sounds. Stick to grass at first, pay diligent attention, and bask in the sensation of the Earth beneath your feet.
Action #2: Climb a Tree (20 Minutes)
Imagine it’s summer and you are twelve again. Race into the woods and scale a tree. Climb upwards feeling the rough bark on your skin, the wind in your hair, and the smell of the woods. I guarantee it will make you smile.
How this can revolutionize your health: As kids, most of us spent days climbing trees and creating imaginative battles and adventures. Unfortunately, most adults, constrained by responsibilities and busyness, have lost their sense of childish enthusiasm and haven’t climbed a tree in years. Tree climbing gets you in touch with your body and your surroundings and is one of the most powerful exercises for building functional strength. Plus, it’s ridiculously fun!
Action #3: Stop Exercising (5 Minutes)
1. Drop the dumbbells, shut off the treadmill and get outside.
2. Move in ways that feel good and natural. Run, walk, jump, climb. There are no rules and no regulations. You are free to move. You are free to play.
How this can revolutionize your health: Exercise is boring. There, I said it. Treadmills, lat pull down bars and leg extension machines are about as exciting as a polynomial equation. Not only is exercise boring, its also highly unnatural. To humans living in the wild, designating a period of time to perform highly regimented and repetitive movements would have been comically perplexing. Life was extremely physical and people probably enjoyed a wide range of physical mobility simply by performing movements integral to their survival. Exercise did not exist, but movement did.
When it comes to physical activity, we have turned something wonderful and spontaneous into a systematized and boring routine. By changing your mindset from exercise to movement, from working out to play, you begin to see movement possibilities everywhere. You become invigorated with the passion for movement you may have forgotten.
Action #4 Cancel Your Gym Membership (5 Minutes)
How this can revolutionize your health: What’s the first step you can take when transitioning from exercise to movement? Cancel your gym membership. Exercise performed in stale, loud and corporate gyms is not only soul deadening and boring, it’s also much less effective.
Action #5: Learn the Basics of the Paleo Diet (10 Minutes)
Watch this short video.
How this can revolutionize your health: Humans have been evolving for two million years. Yet we’ve only been farming for ten thousand. To take it even further, we’ve only been refining and processing our food for less than one hundred. While there is debate over what our ancestors diet primarily consisted of, it definitely wasn’t the grains, sugars, and highly processed foods we eat today.
Action #6: Take a news fast (1 day)
Turn off the television, change the radio station, and stay away from CNN.com for 24 hours.
How this can revolutionize your health: The media is filled with horrifically dramatic and terrible stories. While these types of stories certainly fuel our interest and inevitably sell advertising spots, they also create stress, anxiety, and a flawed perception of the world for those who are continually exposed to them. By removing yourself from this cycle of fear, you can live unrestricted by conflicts and suffering you ultimately have little control over.
Action #7: Take a siesta (60 Minutes)
Take an hour or two and give yourself permission to be lazy, to slow town, to take a siesta.
How this can revolutionize your health: When’s the last time you took a nap in the middle of the day? While this is commonplace in many cultures around the world, here in America it’s nearly unheard of. Time wasted equals dollars lost, right? Think about it this way: Time enjoyed equals days, months or years of vibrant health gained.
Action #8: Swim in a Lake or the Ocean (20 Minutes)
How this can revolutionize your health: I can think of few things more invigorating than a dunk in a body of water. Few things can bring you into the present moment better that the cool rush the ocean. Few things can help you feel so alive.
Don’t have water near by? Spend 30 minutes in nature.
Action #9: Plant a garden (60+ Minutes)
Take 60 minutes and plan out a small vegetable garden. If you already have one, work in it for an hour.
How this can revolutionize your health: While this one is quite time consuming and does require a bit of planning, planting a garden is a great way to get back in touch with the Earth and the natural flow of life. Plus, the rewards of your efforts will be worth it. Home-grown food is delicious and nutritious.
Action # 10: Meditate (10 Minutes)
Meditate for 10 minutes. Pay diligent attention, clear your mind, relax.
How this can revolutionize your health: The benefits of meditation are irrefutable. Taking the time to slow down, relax and clear your head not only leads to decreased stress levels, greater happiness and present moment awareness but also to greater energy as well as increased brain function and tissue repair.
Action #11: Lay in the Grass (10 Minutes)
1. Take ten minutes and lie in the grass. Soak up the sun. Feel the Earth beneath you. Smile.
How this can revolutionize your health: Ironically, to many people the natural world is a very foreign place. Cars, houses and shoes shield us from the very habitat we are designed to be apart of. If we truly desire health and vitality, I believe taking the time to reconnect with our primal roots, to embrace available expanses of nature is one of the most important things we as humans can do.
Action #12: Laugh (5 Minutes)
1. Simply Laugh.
Don’t think you can laugh on command? Laughter yoga is the practice of intentional laughter in a group setting and has recently been growing in popularity. If all else fails, watch this video.
How this can revolutionize your health: Laughter is the best medicine. It relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, triggers the release of endorphins, and protects the heart. However, laughter is hard to come by these days. One study reported that kids laugh over 400 times ever day while adults laugh a mere 17 times.
Action #13: Take a Digital Sabbatical (1 day)
For one day, don’t watch T.V, check your email, use any other electronic devices you may own. Completely remove yourself from the never ending stream of advertisements and cybernetic noise. It may be hard, but it’s certainly doable. Nothing is that urgent, it can all wait for a day. Ev Bouge calls this a Digital Sabbatical.
How this can revolutionize your health: While brilliant for communication and quickly spreading ideas, thoughts and knowledge… electronic devices have largely taken over our lives, rendering many people dependent on their smart phones and iPods for survival, incessantly bombarding them with radio waves. Taking a break naturally creates a sense of ease and clarity, and allows you to interact genuinely with the world, face to face. Crazy concept huh?
Action #14: Watch This Clip (5 Minutes)
Watch this clip.
How this can revolutionize your health: This short video clip changed they way I think about health… it may just do the same for you.
Action #15: Perform a Random Act of Kindness
Go out of your way to do something nice for someone.
How this can revolutionize your health: Most people are so caught up in their own struggles that they often forget the power that intentional acts of kindness can have on them and the people around them. As Maya Angelou once said, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
Action #16: Be Grateful (5 Minutes)
Take 5 minutes to be grateful for the people, things and opportunities in your life. Reflect on the many blessings you enjoy.
How this can revolutionize your health: When I was growing up, my family had this ritual where before we ate, we would go around the table and share one thing we were grateful for that day. Looking back, despite the bickering and grumbling it provoked in my sister and I, this was an extremely healthy thing to do. Intentional gratitude helps keep things in perspective and foster a deep appreciation for your friends, family and the wonderful gift of life.
Action #17: Don’t Drive (5-30 Minutes)
Do yourself, your wallet and the planet a favor by walking, running, biking, roller blading, or skateboarding somewhere. Use your body in the way it was designed to be used. Practice natural transportation.
How this can revolutionize your health: Here in America we are addicted to the open road. This massive dependence on automobiles has had some seriously negative repercussions on both our health and the environmental state of the planet. By abstaining from unnecessary driving you get the benefits of movement, the outdoors and exposure to the sensations of life.
Action #18: Have an Adventure (20-60 Minutes)
Go out in the woods and explore. Move freely, be creative. Like Huck Finn, seek reckless adventure wherever you go.
How this can revolutionize your health: In the summers, my friends and I like to go on what we call “epic adventures.” We venture into the woods for hours, climbing trees, swimming in the river, fording streams and chasing deer like wild boys. These adventures are some of my fondest memories, some of the times when I felt the happiest, strongest, and most alive. Even today I exercise in this way, scrambling up hills, under bushes, over porcupines… I’ve yet to find something as fun or health promoting as an epic adventure.
Action #19: Perform a Material Cleanse ( 60 Minutes)
Pick one room and get rid of everything you haven’t worn, used or touched in a while. I guarantee you will feel lighter afterwards.
How this can revolutionize your health: If you’re like most people, you have massive amounts of stuff. Your house is most likely stuffed to the brim with items you haven’t used in years. By getting rid of things that do nothing but take up space, I’ve found life seems easier, less complicated, happier. While clearing out the clutter will most likely be a long process, pick one room and tackle it.
Action #20: Fast
Give your body a 6-10 hour break form food. Give it time to relax, to digest, to clear and cleanse itself.
How this can revolutionize your health: Today, food enters of systems in a never ending stream. One meal piles on top of the next until our systems are clogged, leaving us bloated and miserable. Intermittent fasting helps the body naturally cleanse itself and maintain a well functioning digestive system.
Action #21: Read a Book
Make a commitment to reeducate yourself. Here are three books that have changed the way I view health and wellness…
How this can revolutionize your health: Much of our health related habits can be traced to the education and mental conditioning we have been exposed to over the years. Unfortunately, much of what is “common knowledge” regarding our health is simply wrong. Get started back on the right foot by exposing yourself to a more holistic and logical approach to total health.
Improving your health, energy and happiness is all about consistency, about creating habits that feed your body mind and soul. In order to see results, you have to take consistent action towards your desired goal.
But don’t think of it as a struggle. Revolutionizing your health doesn’t have to consist of hours on the treadmill and nothing but raw cabbage. Delicious meals, deep sleep and vigorous play are just as effective.
Pick one of the above and do it today. Whether it’s a barefoot run, a belly laugh, or an epic adventure, take action and watch as your body returns to it’s natural state: health.
What would you add to the list? Let’s hear it in the comments.
David has worked the past several years trying to get a grasp of “health knowledgeries” from the perspective of a person working a 9 to 5 job and dealing with the normal and not-so-normal challenges that life gives.