10 small changes with a BIG impact on health

According to Katy Bowman, M.S., biomechanist and director of Nutritious Movement, making small changes to your environment can have a BIG impact on your long-term health. I’ve put together a list of 10 small changes that don’t have to cost anything to get you started. Yes, people might think you are crazy but nothing you can’t handle! Plus once you set these up you no longer have to remember to do anything. So who’s crazy now?!

1. Change how you “wash their hands”

Place a 1/2 foam roller or large book/rolled-up towel in front of all your sinks so that both calves are lengthened every time you wash their hands. You can make your own ½ foam roller by cutting a regular foam roller in half, length ways, and then in half again, which would make it more of a ¼ foam roller but you get the general idea ! This video goes into more detail.

2. Change how you sit

Place a cushion/wedge/rolled-up towel at the back of the car seat/dining chair so that your bottom is at the same height or slightly higher than the knees and so you are not automatically slouching every time you sit in the car or eat/sit at the table. You can source these wedge cushions from various sources. This link allows you to see what they look like but you can improvise with your own cushion/towel.

3. Change how you use the toilet. Wait, what?!?

Use a Squatty Potty or just put some large books/yoga blocks in front of the toilet so that all family members do a type of squat every time they use the toilet, that is, the feet are not resting on the floor but are at a higher level. This idea is used to help people with constipation/ haemorrhoid problems but it also helps with calf/hamstring and hip tightness.  (Again, I am not endorsing this site; it just gives you an idea about what a Squatty Potty looks like and why it’s beneficial).

4. Change out of your shoes

Try having a “no shoes’ policy in the house. If that’s sore, start by wearing soft slippers with as low a heel and as soft a sole as possible. Ideally go barefoot but socks are okay if you have cold feet. If you have wooden floors, it’s best to go barefoot or wear sticky yoga socks because otherwise your feet will slip slightly every time you take a step and that will tighten the muscles in your feet, which would kinda defeat the whole purpose, right?

5. Change where you walk and 6. how often you walk

Walk, walk and walk some more. If you commute by public transport, get off a stop early and walk the rest of the way. If you drive, park short of your destination and walk the rest of the way.

If you already walk regularly, be sure to change your route so you don’t get bored. Vary the length, the incline and who you go with. Try walking more on grass or beach so that the surface is more uneven and softer on joints. There are grass verges nearly everywhere once you start looking! Oh, and stop telling your kids to “stay off the grass”. This link explains it all.

7. Avoid flip flops (or shoes that are too big)

Flip flops change the way you walk by causing your toes to grip and other leg muscles to shorten. Flip flops with ankle straps are fine. Find out why here.

8. Change your shoes

If you’re buying new shoes, go for ones that have a lower heel. You might be surprised to see how hard it is to find even “sport” shoes without heels! You might not be ready for official “minimal shoes” just yet but slowly lowering heels in general is a good way to start.Try wearingthe lower heel shoes just in the house first, then around the road, then around the estate, then longer walks to get used to them. You should not be sore after wearing them so think “baby steps”.

9. Stop sitting so much (in chairs)

Encourage the whole family to try sitting on the floor instead of the sofa, even for short amounts of time, or use cushions/yoga bolsters/pouffes to make it more comfortable on the floor. Leave the props beside the sofa so you are reminded when you see the sofa. Getting down to and up off the floor is an exercise in itself ! Find out more here.

10. Just go outside. More.

75% of UK children spend less time outside than prison inmates! Experts warn that active play is essential to the health and development of children, but that parents’ fears, lack of green spaces and the lure of digital technology is leading youngsters to lead enclosed lives. It’s time to get the kids outside more for so many reasons; it helps with obesity, mood, brain function and has social benefits. Plus it’s fun. Find out what happened when one Kindergarten in Brooklyn added 4 hours of outside time to their curriculum. No toys, no props, no instruction. Just the beauty of unstructured play.

It goes without saying that all this applies to adults too, right? Now, go outside : )

©Annette Cashell 2019