9 Everyday Things That Impact Your Body’s Ability to Perform

fit young male thinking about something in the gym

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How are you feeling right now?

Are you on top of the world, ready to tackle what comes next, whether it’s a challenging workout or a client proposal?

Or do you feel tired and sluggish, wanting nothing more than to go home and curl up on your couch?

If it’s the latter, you might question whether you have a disease or a disorder. While you might, you may also merely benefit from improving your daily habits.

9 Small Things That Impact Performance

Small, everyday things can make a significant difference in your body’s overall ability to perform physically. Here are nine of the culprits lined up for your examination and interrogation.

1. The Way You Wake Up

When the alarm goes off, do you stretch in bed or practice yoga? Do you put on your running shoes or spend a few moments practicing gratitude for the new day? Maybe you do what many others in today’s world do — you grab your cellphone and surf social media. If you do the latter, consider changing your routine if you want to feel better.

Scrolling through your Facebook feed establishes the mental mindset that you’re delaying the inevitable pain of rising. How often do you DM a friend or even post, “I have to go — I have to get up for work now.”

The problem with an “I have to” mindset is that it becomes an “I hate to” attitude. It creates the expectation that jump-starting your day is something negative when, in reality, it’s proof that you’ve survived another night and are ready for another day in this beautiful life. Instead, adopt a positive morning habit to jumpstart your day.

2. Eating Breakfast

If you grab little more than coffee on your way out the door, you’re setting yourself up for adverse health effects later. While it isn’t true that eating breakfast supercharges your metabolism, there’s a better reason to get your munch on early. Going without a.m. fuel may increase levels of inflammation — the root cause of many diseases.

Researchers implicate this condition in everything from certain forms of arthritis to dementia. People who take time for the first meal of the day tend to have healthier lifestyles overall, too. The bottom line? Don’t eat breakfast in hopes of shedding the unwanted pounds. However, do grab a light fruit-and-nondairy-yogurt parfait or low-fat granola to decrease your risk of inflammation.

3. How Much You Walk

Here’s an experiment for when you have an extra $2-$3 to burn — buy an inexpensive pedometer and wear it for a day. Did you get close to 10,000 steps? If you’re a nurse or construction worker, you probably topped that mark. However, if you’re a cubicle rat, chances are, you didn’t come close.

Walking regularly helps you to keep mobile by improving your cardiovascular fitness and strengthening the muscles and tendons around the knee. When you go for a walk, your knees absorb approximately 1.5 times your body weight. Set a timer or use an app to remind you to stand up once per hour. Take a walk around your office building or find a set of stairs to climb.

4. The Way You Breathe

How often do you focus on your breathing in a typical day? When you’re feeling stressed, you often revert to shallow breathing. While this shallowness helps to decrease blood flow to your extremities — a survival mechanism in primitive humans — it clouds your thinking, too. Why? You’re depriving your body of vital oxygen.

Several times daily, remind yourself to stop and take several slow, deep breaths. Try to exhale for slightly longer than you inhale. This form of breathing helps decrease your blood pressure and assists your muscles in relaxing. It also sends nourishing oxygen up to your brain cells, reviving your focus.

5. Your Posture

Does your back ache from slumping over your desk all day? When you stand up, do your shoulders say, “Hi — I’m open to meeting you,” or, “It’s probably bad news?” If you have poor posture, you make yourself feel worse physically and mentally.

Physically, it’s challenging to take deep, belly breaths when your stomach has no room to expand. You also create a significant strain on your lower back. Mentally, you project the image that you’re in a dour mood — both to others and yourself. You don’t want to let this impression become a self-fulfilling prophecy!

6. What You Feed Yourself

The way you nourish yourself matters. Many nutritionists consider food to be medicine because of the physiological impact ingesting certain substances has. In general, it’s best to consume foods as close to their natural forms as possible and avoid ultra-processed varieties laden with additives and sugar.

When you go to the grocery store, shop the outside aisles of the market first. These locations are where you’ll find your fresh foods and produce. Spend some time on your day off prepping healthy meals. Chop vegetables and store them in containers to easily toss in the wok on busy nights. Freeze healthy lunches like these healthy black bean burritos for grab-and-go workday lunches.

7. The Beverages You Drink

Do you consume alcohol regularly? If so, and you feel unmotivated, you might look to the bottle. Alcohol changes the neurochemistry of the brain and may increase symptoms of depression. Even if you don’t have a depressive disorder, you could damage connections that boost productivity if you drink to excess.

Both tea and coffee contain substances that benefit your health, but drinking too much can have adverse effects. Too much caffeine can lead to jitters and insomnia. If you live on a stream of java, try alternating each cup with herbal tea to decrease your caffeine intake.

8. The Way You Move Your Body

A complete fitness program consists of three components — strength, cardiovascular training and flexibility. Experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular activity or 75 minutes of tougher stuff each week. They also recommend that you strength train at least twice per week. You can stretch as often as you like — the more, the better!

Working out helps you maintain healthy body weight and stave off disease. It also creates new neural pathways in your brain — pumping it up can make you smarter!

9. The Mental Messages You Tell Yourself

How do you talk to yourself? Do you feed yourself a steady diet of, “I’m not good enough? I’m a failure,” etc.? If you do, is it any wonder your body doesn’t want to cooperate? To perform better, try spending a few minutes each day practicing positivity meditation. Hey, if top athletes swear by the practice, it will probably benefit you, too.

Small, Everyday Habits Create a Cumulative Effect

The little, everyday habits you adopt make a significant impact on your body’s ability to perform, both physically and mentally. To improve your overall health, adjust your mental mindset, and choose more active physical habits. Making positive changes can bolster your performance in the gym and activities of daily life.

Kate Harveston

Written by Kate Harveston

Kate Harveston is a women’s health writer from Pennsylvania, and the writer and editor of So Well, So Woman. You may have seen her over at sites like Greatist, POPSUGAR, Thought Catalog, Bust or YourTango. Kate enjoys writing about women’s reproductive health and aims to use So Well, So Woman to bring a unique voice to the reproductive, sexual, relationship and mental health issues that young women are facing growing up in today’s world.

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