These Life-Improving Habits Take Less Than 30 Minutes a Day

30 minute habits for health
Cole Saladino/Oren Aks/Thrillist

It's virtually impossible to live a perfectly healthy life, especially with everything there is to watch on Netflix. But rather than plow through an entire show and tub of ice cream in a single night, you could invest just a little bit of time and see it add up to greater results.

To get you heading in the right direction, here are some easy health tips pretty much anyone can accomplish in 30 minutes or less.

Take a power nap

The ultimate lazy-person health tip! There's a reason your preschool and kindergarten teachers made you take naps in between your precious coloring time and the unfortunate "didn't make it to the bathroom quickly enough" incident that still haunts you -- it's good for you.

The 30-minute power nap has the potential to improve mood, increase productivity, and increase awareness. One study found that a nap will even help you sleep better at night, because naps appeared to restore hormones and proteins involved in stress and immune function to normal levels. Basically, naps are a luxury. And napping for 20 to 30 minutes is just short enough for you to avoid the groggy, just-woke-up-on-another-planet phase that occurs after a one- or two-hour nap.

Start your day with lemon water

You should know by now that drinking water is good for you. But lemon water contains pectin, which is a type of fiber that helps you feel full longer. Fiber also helps with digestion, and helps clear those unwanted demons out of your system. If it's not clear what that means, it's poop.

Lemon water has more positive health benefits than you may realize. It’s good for your skin, it relieves indigestion, it helps prevent kidney stones, and is a smart way to add vitamin C and potassium to your diet. Plain water seems so boring now.

Buckle down and do a quick cleanup

OK, not ideal -- but 30 minutes of cleaning a month's worth of messiness might do you good. Physically, you can burn up to 266 calories in 30 minutes just by moving furniture around. Mentally, you'll feel better.

Cleaning can be a stress reliever, a sneaky exercise, and a money saver. That means vacuuming, washing dishes, Windexing your countertops, and kicking dirty clothes under your bed will all contribute to your overall well-being.

And even though the physical and mental part of cleaning are great, think about afterwards when everything is dust-free and smelling (somewhat) fresh. It just makes you feel better about life.

Do a HIIT workout

You probably don't need to be told that exercise is good for you, but if you're having trouble finding time to exercise during the day, do it during your lunch break. If you get nothing else out of it, you'll release some built-up energy after mindlessly sitting at a desk and dealing with your boss.

Try high-intensity interval training to burn fat fast. Studies have shown that incorporating cardio and weight training into the same workout is the quickest way to shed some pounds. HIIT workouts are typically 20-30 minutes, and are way less boring than the godawful elliptical machine.

Try a yoga sequence

Practicing yoga regulates stress response systems, which decreases physiological arousal -- making you a little less crazy. The combination of exercise and relaxation improves mood, boosts energy, and reduces stress.

Luckily, you can practice yoga in the comfort of your home in less than 30 minutes, thanks to some free instructional YouTube videos. Being able to control your breathing and being in the moment is part of what makes yoga so beneficial to your health. It's also a bomb-ass skill. And if you think yoga is boring, then you obviously haven't tried beer yoga.

Organize your mind with a list-making exercise

You might have a long to-do list that includes picking up your laundry, walking the dog, calling your mom, or meeting your friends for happy hour (which takes priority). All of that multitasking, on top of getting distracted by cute cats on the internet, can make you go crazy.

So make writing a part of your morning or evening routine. You're more likely to retain information if you write it down -- advancing improved memory. Score.

When you get to work, take 15 minutes to make a list of everything you need to accomplish for that day. Before you go to bed, take some time to write about something interesting/funny/terrible that happened to you that day. Writing gives you a chance to set goals, or even just vent when no one else wants to listen to your BS. It might feel like a weight off your shoulders.

Make a smoothie or a salad

Not only does the act of cooking burn up to 111 calories, but also making something healthy for yourself is (obviously) super beneficial.

While cheeseburger onion ring bites are what dreams are made of, the aftermath tends to be… suboptimal. On the other hand, a smoothie or salad is packed with nutrients that will keep you energized, boost your immune system, and (with the right amount of protein) build muscle. Just be careful not to jam-pack a salad with dressing -- then you might as well have that burger.

Add some watercress for all-in-one nutrients, blueberries as an anti-inflammatory, and eggs for protein. If you need something more hearty, make a quick, healthy five-ingredient meal.

Give meditation a shot

Meditation is one of those skills that sounds nice in theory, but may feel a little too "woo-woo" to try. But a bunch of the most successful peoplein the worldpractice meditation. It has the power to increase self-awareness (aka check yourself), tackle anxiety, and improve cognitive function.

Apparently, the world's happiest man believes that meditation leads to happiness.

There are an infinite number of meditation techniques, but it's really as simple as spending a few minutes turning off distractions and focusing on your breath. That's it!


Laughter is the best medicine, but you don't need to hear more pseudo-inspirational Instagram quotes. That laugh-'til-you-feel-like-you-did-an-ab-workout feeling has more health benefits than you might realize. It releases endorphins, stimulates your organs, improves your mood, and (let's just pretend) it's a mild ab workout.

Laughter reduces the physical symptoms of stress by being its own natural painkiller. But while laughing to yourself over the fact that Kevin Hart continues to get work is good for you, shared laughter is even better. It builds relationship quality and reinforces social support.

So call your best friend and laugh about that one night you barely remember. If your friends are too busy, check out some of the best stand-up comedy specials on Netflix. Your body will thank you.

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Marina Nazario is a freelance writer based in NYC and wishes she had the patience for meditation. Follow her on Twitter @marinajane19.