Daily habits are the foundation of our lives.
What do your habits say about you?
More importantly, what kind of impact do your daily habits have on your life?
Habits have the ability to create massive change through small, but consistent action.
Either your habits are working for or against you.
In this article, I discuss five of my favorite habits that can only work in your favor. They’ll make you more attractive, give you tons of extra energy, and help you burn more calories!
1. Maintain correct posture
Posture plays a huge role in how attractive you look, your energy levels, and your overall comfort throughout the day.
Since our modern lifestyles are more sedentary than ever before, our posture is a bigger concern than ever before.
Here are the top 10 benefits of maintaining good posture:
1. Posture = Power
Across species, posture is often the primary representation of power. By now, most of us have heard about Amy Cuddy’s famous ‘Power Posing.’ Cuddy found that open, expansive postures reflect high power while narrow, closed postures reflect low power. These poses not only display power, but can actually produce it. People with high power poses have increased feelings of dominance, risk-taking, and power as well as reduced anxiety.
2. Say goodbye to back pain
Good posture is critical to reducing back and neck pain. Slouching can add strain to muscles and put stress on the spine. This can change the anatomical characteristics of the spine, leading to constricted blood vessels and nerves, as well as problems with muscles, discs, and joins. The Cleveland Clinic notes that people who suffer from back pain experience positive changes when they improve their posture.
3. Look good and feel confident
Needless to say, being upright does wonders for your appearance. You look taller, slimmer and more successful when you sit and stand tall. It is imperative to making a good first impression. A study by researchers at Ohio State University found that sitting upright actually reinforced confidence. Upright participants felt confidence in their thoughts whereas slumped participants were more unsure of their themselves.
4. Lose weight!
You can actually burn up to 350 calories a day by being upright! Chiropractor James Emmett explains that this is because by carrying yourself better, you are “taking tension off the whole body and everything starts to flow better.”
5. Build a stronger core
By sitting upright we extend the mid back, which leads to a neutral spine that allows the pelvis to position itself in a way that the core muscles can activate better. Once core muscles are working better, the abs will appear flatter and toned.
6. Breathe Better
Keeping an upright posture helps open up the airways and ensure proper breathing. This allows more oxygen to flow through the cardiopulmonary system. The blood is then able to carry sufficient oxygen to the whole body and ensure that your nervous system, organs and other tissues function effectively.
7. Improve your memory and brain
A study conducted by Indiana University focused on how words and memories are linked to posture and found that babies’ learning ability is in fact affected by their posture. Being upright improved their ability to map new experiences and remember things.
8. Improve your mood
Erik Peper carried out a range of experiments to test how posture affects energy level and the ability to generate positive and negative thoughts. He found that participants who were upright and dynamic felt more energetic, happier and positive. By contrast, those who slouched reported feeling sad, lonely and isolated.
9. Reduce your stress
Stress not only causes poor posture, but also actually perpetuates it! A recent study compared different seated postures to evaluate how each affected emotions in the face of stress. Results found that adopting an upright posture when stressed can maintain self-esteem, reduce negative mood, and increase positive mood compared to a slumped posture. Therefore, sitting upright might be a simple strategy to help build resilience to stress.
10. Be more productive
Sitting upright makes you more alert, concentrated, and productive. The reason is that when you slouch, your body takes in as much as 30% less oxygen than you’d take in with good posture. This means that when you slouch, it is much harder to keep your energy up.
Amy Cuddy’s now famous TED Talk, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, sparked all of this attention towards posture and body language in recent years.
You can watch the full presentation in this video:
2. Always take the stairs
All of the little things we do throughout the day add up. If you infuse physical activity into everything you do, staying fit is much easier.
One of the best habits I picked up from my grandpa is always taking the stairs.
Over the years, I’ve found that there seems to be a certain breed of us stair-takers that refuse to use the elevator or stand on the escalator.
It’s slow, boring, and lazy.
Three things I hate!
Walking up stairs burns more a decent amount of calories — certainly more than taking the elevator or escalator!
According to Cedric Bryant, chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise, “Stair climbing will give you a little more bang for your buck because of the vertical component.”
“Dr. Bryant said that walking up stairs at a moderate intensity should burn 5 calories a minute for a 120-pound person, 7 for a 150-pound person, and 9 for a 180-pound person. Running stairs multiplies the caloric burn and the cardiovascular benefit.
Steven Loy, professor of kinesiology at California State University, Northridge, and a consultant for StairMaster in 1993, said stair climbing could appeal to those who were not competitive. “For people who are overweight and not as well conditioned, they may not be able to run, but they could climb stairs,” Mr. Loy said.
The impact on knees and feet is relatively low, with the pressure equivalent to two times one’s body weight walking up stairs (compared with three to four times when running), Dr. Bryant said. The pounding on the body going downstairs, however, equals six or seven times one’s body weight, he cautioned.”
I’ve been opting for the stairs for nearly three decades now, and one thing I’ve noticed over and over is…
The people who take the stairs are almost always fit and the people who don’t usually aren’t.
There’s a lesson in there.
3. Use a standing desk
You always know when someone uses a standing desk…
Because they tell you every chance they get.
But don’t be too quick to write this off as a fad — there’s actually some validity to the growing trend of standing while working.
In fact, here are seven science-based benefits of a standing desk:
1. Standing Lowers Your Risk of Weight Gain and Obesity
Weight gain is ultimately caused by taking in more calories than you burn.
Conversely, burning more calories than you take in results in weight loss.
While exercise is the most effective way to burn calories quickly, simply choosing to stand instead of sitting can also be beneficial.
In fact, when compared to an afternoon of sedentary work, an equal amount of time spent standing has been shown to burn over 170 additional calories. (Source)
That’s almost 1000 extra calories burned each week from simply standing at your desk each afternoon.
Bottom Line: Standing for an afternoon has been shown to burn 170 more calories than an equal amount of sitting. Over time, this difference can have a major effect on your weight.
2. Using a Standing Desk May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Generally speaking, the more your blood sugar levels increase after meals, the worse it is for your health.
This is especially true for those with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.
In a small study of 10 office workers, standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time. (Source)
Both groups took the same amount of steps, indicating that the smaller spike was due to standing rather than additional physical movements around the office.
Another study involving 23 office workers found that alternating between standing and sitting every 30 minutes throughout the workday reduced blood sugar spikes by 11.1% on average. (Source)
The harmful effects of sitting after meals could help explain why excessive sedentary time is linked to a whopping 112% greater risk of type 2 diabetes. (Source)
Bottom Line: Studies show that using a standing desk at work can lower blood sugar levels, especially after lunch.
3. Standing May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
The idea that standing is better for heart health was first proposed in 1953.
A study found that bus conductors who stood all day had half the risk of heart disease-related deaths as their colleagues in the driver’s seats. (Source)
Since then, scientists have developed a much greater understanding of the effects of sitting on heart health, with prolonged sedentary time thought to increase the risk of heart disease by up to 147%. (Sources one and two)
It is so harmful that even an hour of intense exercise may not make up for the negative effects of an entire day spent sitting. (Source)
There is no doubt that spending more time on your feet is beneficial for heart health.
Bottom Line: It is widely accepted that the more time you spend sitting, the greater your risk of developing heart disease.
4. Standing Desks Appear to Reduce Back Pain
Back pain is one of the most common complaints of office workers who sit all day.
To determine if standing desks could improve this, several studies have been done on employees with long-term back pain.
Additionally, removal of the sit-stand desks reversed some of those improvements within a 2-week period.
Bottom Line: Several studies show that standing desks can dramatically decrease chronic back pain caused by prolonged sitting.
5. Standing Desks Help Improve Mood and Energy Levels
Standing desks appear to have a positive influence on overall well-being.
In one 7-week study, participants using standing desks reported less stress and fatigue than those who remained seated the entire work day. (Source)
Additionally, 87% of those using standing desks reported increased vigor and energy throughout the day.
Upon returning to their old desks, overall moods reverted to their original levels.
Bottom Line: One study found that standing desks can lower feelings of stress and fatigue, while improving mood and energy levels.
6. Standing Desks May Even Boost Productivity
A common concern about standing desks is that they hinder daily tasks, such as typing.
While standing each afternoon may take some getting used to, standing desks appear to have no significant impact on typical work tasks.
In a study of 60 young office employees, using a standing desk for 4 hours each day had no impact on characters typed per minute or typing errors. (Source)
Considering that standing improves mood and energy as well, using a standing desk is more likely to boost productivity rather than hinder it. (Source)
Bottom Line: Studies show that standing desks do not have negative effects on daily work tasks, such as typing. On the contrary, they may even boost productivity slightly in the long-run.
7. Standing More May Help You Live Longer
Studies have found a strong link between increased sitting time and early death.
This is not surprising given the strong association between sedentary time, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In fact, a review of 18 studies found those who sit the most are at a 49% greater risk of dying early than those who sit the least. (Source)
Another study estimated that reducing sitting time to 3 hours per day would raise the average American’s life expectancy by 2 years. (Source)
While these observational studies do not prove cause and effect, the weight of evidence indicates standing more often could help lengthen our lifespan.
Bottom Line: Research suggests that reduced sitting time may lower your risk of dying early and therefore help you live longer.
The easiest (and cheapest) way to use a standing desk is to buy a laptop stand.
A laptop stand serves two primary purposes:
- Help you maintain good posture by looking forward, instead of looking down, while working at your computer.
- Turn your desk into a standing desk at any given moment.
If you’re like me, you don’t want to use a standing desk 24/7 — but you still want some of the posture-related benefits from a standing desk.
The perfect solution is a laptop stand…
Any laptop stand will do.
It’s a lot cheaper than many of them, and it adjusts to way more positions than most of them, so I’m very pleased with it.
4. Break a sweat
One of my golden rules for staying in shape year-round is breaking a sweat every day.
Considering how many benefits you get from something this simple, it’s a no-brainer.
Here are six benefits of sweating:
- Boosts your feel-good hormones (endorphins)
- Helps prevent the cold and flu
- Helps eliminate toxins
- Keeps your skin clear
- Reduces your risk for kidney stones
- Helps wounds heal quicker
The best part about this habit is there are virtually unlimited ways to do it.
You don’t have to step foot in a gym to break a sweat if you don’t want to.
- Take a brisk walk
- Do some yard work
- Play basketball, tennis, or any other sport
- Jump rope
- Do some hill sprints
- Go for a bike ride
And the list goes on.
5. Bust out some bodyweight exercises
Bodyweight exercises don’t get the credit they deserve.
Probably because most fitness gurus want to sell you a fitness program and bodyweight exercises can be done for free…
I’ve found bodyweight exercises to be a great tool for improving strength, developing motor patterns for certain exercises, and getting some blood flowing through the body.
What’s great is that they don’t seem to hinder my progress in the gym, either.
When I was in high school, I did 100 hundred pushups a day for a couple of months to help me break out of a plateau and hit a new PR on the bench press.
Today I keep a pull-up bar on the doorway of my spare bedroom and bang out ten reps or so whenever I walk by.
Something I’ve also done that Tim Ferriss discussed in The 4-Hour Body was sneaking away to do 100 quick bodyweight squats in a bathroom stall whenever he was out somewhere. He said it helped him burn fat much quicker.
Bottom line, bodyweight circuits are easy to squeeze in throughout the day, and they’re actually effective.
It doesn’t matter what you do on occasion.
It’s the things you do consistently that determine what results you get.
Would you like to take control of your daily habits once and for all?
Check out my book, Hacking Your Habits — it’s designed to help you do so as quickly as possible.
And you’ll learn how to develop the mindset to actually stick with your habits forever!
Fitness Dieting Made Easy
This FREE guide shows you what to eat for burning fat, building muscle, and improving your health!
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
Never miss out on new posts like this by subscribing to my newsletter!