5 Simple Switches to Make a Happier You

Make the changes to become happier
Becoming a Happier You

In a lot of ways, fitness isn’t about the big milestones — running a marathon, climbing a mountain — but in the habits we cultivate to deal with everyday life. While it might feel like that double cheeseburger and chocolate cake makes you happy, the endorphin rush from choices like this are short lived, and soon you’ll be searching for the next indulgence to bring your spirits up.

It is much smarter to think about happiness holistically — which is why it’s time for a change. If you start with these small switches in your life, in no time you’ll be on the path to happiness and health.

Stairs Instead of Elevator

This one you’ve probably heard about, but that makes it no less crucial. For every minute the average 160-pound person walks up stairs, he or she burns about nine calories more than the person standing around in an elevator. This may not sound like a lot, but if a person ascends five flights of stairs five times a week, that number compounds to a whopping 302 calories.

Not only is it healthier to take the stairs, but it is more environmental, as well. An elevator servicing 20 floors uses thousands of kilowatts of energy every year, which is enough to power an entire house (heating and all) for well over two months. By taking the stairs, you save the Earth and yourself from an unhappy future.

E-Cig Instead of Cigarettes

This is another seeming no-brainer. Cigarettes are predicted to kill at least 500,000 people every year (with another 8.6 million living with a debilitating smoking-related illness), yet 42.1 million people in the U.S. continue to smoke regularly. The problem is that many smoking cessation tools, like gum and patches, don’t exactly help to sate all the cravings a quitting smoker has. Smoking is a social activity, and chewing gum or wearing a patch doesn’t help a smoker engage with other people; additionally, the hand to mouth action creates an oral fixation that many quitting tools don’t address.

Fortunately, e-cigarettes are becoming more and more available on the market. These handy devices provide smokers a way to slowly wean themselves off nicotine without cutting out the comforting inhalation, social interaction, and hand movements they’re used to. Plus, e-cigs are totally customizable to make a unique experience for each smoker.

Water Instead of Soda

Did you know that Americans intake an extra 39 pounds of sugar every year through carbonated beverages? Though sugar isn’t inherently bad, when it comes from a source without any nutritional benefit — like soda — it has serious repercussions on the body, including bone loss, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and more. In contrast, water carries no calories (therefore no sugars) and we absolutely need it to survive. As a bonus, restaurants and retailers are forced by law in most states to provide free access to clean drinking water at all times, so you can save the average $1000 per year you’re spending on soft drinks.

Learn to stand in stead of sit
Stand Instead of Sit

Standing Instead of Sitting

Most Americans spend an average of six hours during their workday sitting at their desks, and then an average six hours every night sitting on the sofa watching television. All that sitting wreaks havoc on your body; in fact, many researchers are announcing that “sitting is the new smoking.” All that sitting indeed is causing a plethora of health problems from diabetes and obesity from inactivity to cancer and heart disease. Research has shown that no amount of gym time will counteract these measures, as prolonged sitting coupled with strenuous activity actually increases health risks.

This is why standing desks are becoming increasing popular in workplaces around the country. Standing desks allow workers a small amount of minor exercise (standing and pacing) throughout their days. Standing more than sitting has been shown to decrease all the problems of prolonged sitting, as well as decrease the morbidity risk overall. Workers need not go right from sitting constantly to standing constantly, but motivating oneself to stand more often will pay off in the long run.

Fruits Instead of Chocolates

A meal just doesn’t feel complete without a dessert, and research has shown that eating dessert actually contributes to a happier lifestyle. The problem is that most desserts, like cakes and cookies, are much too calorie-dense without providing any real nutritional benefit. Instead of reaching for the cookie jar after lunch or dinner, head to your fridge’s fruit drawer, and you’ll likely find a satisfying and healthy alternative to your typical sweet treats. Fruits contain sugars just like cookies and cakes, but they also contain fiber, water, and vitamins that the other desserts are lacking; as a result, fruits make you feel fuller and happier without weighing you down with extra calories.

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