Ever wondered what the most successful people on the planet do every day to keep fit and healthy? If only you could find out, emulate it and become amazing, too. Guess what? You can!
We’ve tapped into eight of the greatest fitness minds to discover which daily rituals they complete without fail. And, after spending a fortnight doing 6am sun salutations and chowing down on beetroot crisps, we’ve learnt which tricks work best for living the dream – and they’re much more manageable than you might expect.
Ritual 1: 7 minutes of yoga
This is the ritual of health guru and Emmy Award winner Dr Mehmet Oz. That’s right, the doc’s secret lies in daily flexibility sessions. He swears by yoga to reduce inflammation, reduce blood pressure and boost weight loss. If a few downward facing dogs and tree poses can do all that, we’re not complaining.
Yoga translates as ‘breath control’. Ushering in the day with diaphragmatic breathing means you are more likely to maintain it, and deep inhalation is known to boost cognitive activity, too.
So which poses to do? We opted for early-morning warriors, sun salutations and pigeons. This seemed like enough to bend ourselves healthy – and we certainly felt ready to go for the day. Don’t have a second to spare in the morning? Panic not. Nightly downward dogs and cat-cows will ease even a severe case of the office aches.
Ritual 2: Micro workouts
This one comes from model Miranda Kerr, owner of one of the most photographed bodies in the world. ‘Even when I’m at work, if I’m in between takes waiting for the photographer to set up the shot, I’ll be like, OK I’ll do a few squats… because every little bit helps,’ she says.
Exercising little and often is one of the most effective ways to build activity into your day – no more dashing to make the gym straight after work. And another benefit of mini workouts is they take you away from your desk (unless you fancy a few walking lunges through the office?). We found it helpful to get up every hour, stroll to the water fountain, stretch our backs out or nip to the loo for a few calf raises.
Ritual 3: Jumping jacks
As soon as the sun creeps out over the horizon, personal trainer Ben Greenfield, who’s been voted one of the top 100 most influential people in health and fitness, can be found bouncing up and down in his shed. The reason? He’s kick-starting his lymphatic system, of course. How does that work? Well, think of the lymphatic system like a bin man. It goes around collecting metabolic rubbish and toxins then takes them to the dump – quite literally, the loo. However, the problem with the lymphatic system is that it gets blocked fairly easily unless you partake in vigorous exercise. Ben discovered this simple way to get things moving without having to tackle those hill sprints upon waking.
We found jumping jacks were a quick and easy approach. Another option is rebounding on a mini-trampoline – sure to get you going in the morning!
Ritual 4: Use a standing desk
‘I built my own standing desk two years ago and I love it because I never really feel sedentary. In fact, I find that I think better standing,’ reports Anna Sward, founder of Protein Pow and the world’s leading protein powder cooking expert. Impressive, huh?
What was once deemed highly eccentric has found a place in our modern health-conscious society. According to research, ditching the desk-bound monotony by standing while you work increases life expectancy, expends extra calories and boosts brain power.
We went down the DIY route, too, improvising with a stack of vintage Women’s Fitness issues under our computer. After two weeks we definitely felt more mobile, but we also found that standing in one position all day hurts. The solution? Prolonged periods of anything have a negative effect, so mix it up. Try standing for an hour at a time interspersed with half an hour or so of sitting. And be inventive – try standing on one leg or squatting.
Ritual 5: Morning mindfulness
‘It sounds cheesy, but I take five minutes in the morning to think about what I’m grateful for, and what I’d like to get out of that day – it’s really important.’
These are the wise words of
Katie Lowe, Fat Girl PHD (fatgirlphd.com), one of the country’s top wellness bloggers, with over a 250,000 clicks a year. We like to think of her ritual as ‘brain-ercise’. And the best part is it can be done anywhere – while you’re brushing your teeth or walking to the train.
The idea is to focus on the positives in life, listing them in your mind. Saying the same thing to yourself every day could become a snore-fest, though, so keep it interesting. Select a different area of life each time: whether it’s work, family or great workout sessions. Run through every item thinking about how much you appreciate it and why.
And it’s not just the brain that benefits from this ritual. Research published in the Journal Of Health Psychology shows mindfulness decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, too. Who doesn’t want to be happier and less anxious?
Ritual 6: Take control of your email
The average office worker spends 28 per cent of their day emailing, according to research. What a waste! However, Tim Ferriss, multiple New York Times best selling fitness author and tango dancing Guinness World Record holder has a clever fix: email auto responders. This system indicates that you check your inbox twice a day at specific times, letting customers, clients and colleagues know exactly when you will reply. Essentially, you are training others to communicate with you on your terms.
With this nifty little protocol in place and a twice-daily 30-minute reply limit (we went for 8.30-9am and 3.30-4pm), we got to work. And the results were pretty impressive for such a simple switch up! Believe us, your emails become the most efficient words ever typed – not to mention, they often get tidied up by others who are cc’d into the group before you get a chance to reply. Jackpot.
Ritual 7: Oil your feet
Dr Nick Delgado is a leading anti-ageing expert and prospective future world record holder for longevity. In pursuit of the record, Dr Nick goes to the extremes of hypoxic chambers and measuring brain waves. We’ll not do that just yet, but he does have one trick that we can replicate simply and without much expense: putting oil on the soles of your feet. The reasoning behind this is that everything we put on our skin is ingested and sucked straight into the blood stream. Therefore it makes sense to put things onto our skin that we want inside our bodies. We chose coconut oil, partly to smell like tropical goddesses and partly because of the impressive fat profile. Each spoonful contains EFAs required for essential bodily functions.
Ritual 8: Eat lots of veg
Our final ritual comes from Keris Marsden, nutritionist, health seminar host and co-presenter of Fitter London podcasts.
‘I aim to have around nine to 10 servings of vegetables across my day,’ she says. ‘My salads are epic, if I do say so myself! A salad should never just be a bowl of leaves. I top them with avocado, fresh herbs, nuts and seeds, olives, peppers, julienned vegetables, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. ’
Research indicates the average person in the UK still only consumes four portions of fruit or veg a day – missing out on vital phytonutrients that reduce inflammation and protect cells against cancer. So experiment to boost your intake. We tried a fruit and veg-packed mix of juices, soups, courgette noodles and vegetable crisps and it worked a treat.
So there you have it: eight people, eight rituals – each of them totally manageable. So why not try a few for size? Yes, these changes are small, but the potential impact on your daily life is enormous!