4 easy but powerful changes I've made to be healthier, as a health journalist who hates the gym and eats fast food

4 easy but powerful changes I've made to be healthier, as a health journalist who hates the gym and eats fast food
  • I'm a health journalist, but I'm not particularly into fitness or nutrition in my day-to-day life.

  • My job has made me more aware of my own health, so I've made a few small changes to improve it.

  • Here are four easy but powerful things I've started doing to be healthier.

You'd think that as a health journalist I would practice what I preach. But the thought of stepping foot in a gym makes me feel sick, I delight in the odd McDonald's, and rumor has it that I smoke at parties (sorry, World Health Organization).

But writing about health, fitness, and nutrition nearly every day has made it hard to escape the fact that continuing to live this way is probably not the best for my body.

Luckily, experts say that even the smallest changes, such as exercising for five minutes, can have a big impact on our health. So while I'm not going to start prioritizing getting eight hours of sleep over staying for one more drink at the bar or skipping seeing my friends to work out, I have started incorporating a few small changes that over time could have big impact on my health.

Adding protein to my meals

Greek yogurt in a bowl with raspberries.
A high-protein breakfast and some of my housemate's kitchen paraphernalia.Serafina Kenny

A recent study found that women who ate more protein were healthier as they aged.


I'd rather not have chronic health issues at age 70, so I figure it can't hurt to eat a bit more protein.

I'm trying to cut down on the amount of meat I eat because of the climate crisis/animal cruelty/a general sense of guilt, so I try to keep this extra protein vegetarian.

I've started spreading hummus on toast or having Greek yogurt with honey and raspberries for breakfast, and adding beans and lentils to any dinners I make which are sloppy enough to facilitate them — such as burrito filling or roasted vegetable bowls.

Trying to eat 30 plants a week

Learning that more young people are dying from colorectal cancer than ever, but that eating more fiber could reduce this risk, was a wake-up call, as was finding out that epidemiologist Tim Spector recommends eating 30 different plants a week to increase the diversity of gut microbes.

So, in an attempt to eat 30 plants a week, I use as many vegetables as possible when cooking dinner, such as adding mushrooms, peppers, peas, and lentils to classic onion-tomato-garlic pasta sauces (that's seven plants total!). And when I'm eating out, I order meals that contain foods I don't usually eat, so that my diet is as varied as possible.

Making low-effort exercise a part of my day

The author on a walk in a field.
Me, in a field in Cambridge, UK, on a walk.Serafina Kenny

I've never really enjoyed exercise — I don't mind yoga, pilates, and spin classes, but they're very expensive in London, where I live.

I definitely don't reach the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's exercise guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, plus two sessions of muscle strengthening.

But research shows that even short bursts of exercise are better than nothing. So, I've started walking more to ensure I'm not ruining my body by hunching over my laptop all day. One 2023 study found that just 22 minutes of exercise a day could be enough to offset the negative impacts of sitting for long periods of time.

I like to listen to an audiobook and walk around my neighborhood during my lunch hour, and I'll often explore new parts of the city on foot on weekends.

I also invested in a yoga mat and am attempting to fit in 30 to 60-minute at-home sessions once or twice weekly. This could help prevent back pain by improving my posture and strength, and lower my stress levels.

A yoga mat and a laptop showing an at-home yoga video.
My yoga setup means I often find myself face to face with my sweaters while in cobra position.Serafina Kenny

Eating more pickles

When Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, a gastroenterologist, told me that fermented foods are great for the gut microbiome, I took that knowledge and ran with it. Both because a healthy gut is thought to have a positive impact on your general health, including improving immune system function, but also as an excuse to eat more pickles.

I now get through a jar of cornichons a week, mostly snacking on them while I cook.

Read the original article on Business Insider