Adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean becoming an elite exerciser, a perfect, on-plan-all-the-time dieter, or someone who meditates for hours per day. It just means having healthy habits—those automatic little things that add up to big changes. Ultimately, these little daily habits can change your life.
And those habits don’t have to be hard to do. Here are 10 simple, daily habits to change your life in 2024. They may help improve your mental health, boost physical health and propel you to your weight loss goals.
1. Take a 20-minute walk every day (or two 10-minute walks).
While 10,000 steps per day is a great goal, you can get great health benefits with less. One study from 2019 found that older women who took 4,400 daily steps had a 41 percent lower rate of early death compared to others who took just 2,700 steps. And a few more helps: The scientists found that mortality rates continued to improve up to 7,500 steps per day.
This year, make it a habit! Choose a time every day when you can take a 20-minute stroll … or two times when you can walk for 10 minutes. It could be after lunch, after work, during your kids’ sports practice, or any other time. Just set a time you can do (almost) every day, and get stepping.
2. Eat something green before noon.
Dark green vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, offer a bounty of health benefits, from promoting heart health to cancer prevention. Those are just a few of the reasons Nutrisystem members are encouraged to eat four servings of non-starchy vegetables each day.
To make sure you get them all in—and get all those benefits—make a plan to start early each day. Choose a way that you enjoy greens, whether it’s hidden inside a smoothie, mixed into morning eggs, munching with a healthy dip, or another strategy. Then go for it every morning, getting that green goodness before noon.
3. Have a big glass of water before every meal.
If you do, you could get closer to your weight loss goals. When scientists had dieters drink two 8-ounce glasses of water before they ate, the water drinkers lost 36 percent more weight over 12 weeks compared to another group that didn’t drink before digging in.
Pour yourself a big, tall glass and enjoy. Then start eating.
4. Every time you eat, open NuMi to track it.
Tracking what you eat is one of the easiest ways to lose weight. In a study from 2019, scientists found that people who tracked what they ate for three months lost an average of five pounds … and they didn’t even make any other dietary changes!
The official Nutrisystem app, NuMi, makes this easy weight loss fix even easier! It’s pre-programmed with dozens of meals and snacks, so you can click and track in a snap. Plus, it’s FREE! Once you’ve finished eating, pull out your phone and supercharge your weight loss results!
5. Turn off all screens 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
Scrolling in bed is tempting, but it can seriously impact your rest. And lost sleep has consequences: It increases risks for diabetes and heart disease, and can even lead to weight gain.
So let yourself scroll, but stop 30 minutes before you sleep. In a 2020 study, making this small change helped improve sleep quality, reduced the number of times study participants woke up during the night, and improved their memory compared to another group that scrolled until they shut their eyes.
6. Write down three good things that happened each day.
This simple exercise has been shown to reduce feelings of depression and make people feel happy. And it couldn’t be easier: Every day, write down three good things that happened in your life—or, if you prefer, “what went well.” Then write down why those things happened.
You could write that you performed well in a meeting at work. You stayed calm when something frustrating came your way at home. Or you made it to the gym.
Then, focus on the why. You performed well in that meeting because you prepared. You stayed calm when your child melted down because you took a breath before reacting. And you made it to the gym because you set your shoes out by the door in the morning.
This exercise only takes a minute, but can make a huge difference in your psychology. Try it in bed! After you turn off your screen, grab a pen and paper and write this down as you wind down.
7. Get up at the same time every day.
Yes, including weekends. Sleeping in can screw up your schedule the rest of the week: When scientists studied teens who slept late on Saturdays and Sundays, they discovered that the late sleep basically gave them jet lag. It took the students three to four days to readjust to a proper sleep pattern, which resulted in more stress.
That doesn’t mean you can’t get extra sleep on the weekends, though. Get up at the normal time, but take a short nap later in the day.
8. Set an alarm to smile once per day.
Facial expressions reflect our emotions, but it works the other way, too. When you smile, even on purpose, your body picks up on the positive vibes. When scientists in one study asked subjects to smile on purpose, imitating a photo, they felt happier. In another study, participants who forced a smile lit up the part of the brain that’s associated with positive emotion, and felt better.
So fake it ’til you make it! Set an alarm once each day and put a smile on your face. It could improve the rest of your day!
9. Give someone a sincere compliment every day.
Scientists say we underestimate how good giving a compliment will make the receiver feel. But the impact is huge: When you tell someone you like their jacket or enjoyed their presentation at work, studies show their brain reacts to the compliment in a similar way that it would react to receiving a monetary reward.
The giver of the compliment benefits, too. Participants in compliment-giving studies receive a mood boost. Doing so once a day can give you—and others—a positive bump that can keep your mindset on the sunny side all day.
10. Read a list of your new life-changing habits aloud once each day.
Your words have power: Scientists have found that the things we say aloud impact our brains’ reward systems. Speaking your goals makes your brain activate, and may make you more likely to do the things you say you’ll do.
So make a list—choose the habits listed above, or others of your choosing. Start each habit with “Today, I will…” and then say the habit. And start each day by reading that list: “I will give someone a sincere compliment today. I will stop using my phone 30 minutes before bed.” Do that, and you’ll be more likely to make your 2024 habits stick.