Just a few minutes could make a lasting difference

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We’re constantly trying to do more and more in less and less time, which can leave us exhausted, feeling generally rundown and more vulnerable to illness.

But making time for all the things we know we should do – from regular gym visits or fitness routines to dieting – can seem impossible as we get caught up in endlessly juggling work and a family.

Here are some top tips which should only take a couple of minutes but could significantly improve your health.

n Shower solution

Allow your shower to run for 30 seconds before you step underneath it, as according to research from the University of Colorado, bacteria can lurk in the head and spray out with the first burst of water and get inhaled into your lungs.

n Early bird

Get up 10 minutes earlier and get physical by going for a brisk walk for up to 15 minutes.

Professor Adrian Taylor, a sports psychologist at Exeter University, says: ‘It’s easier to be active when you’re fresh in the morning, because if you leave it until later in the day, there’s a risk you’ll be too tired to bother.’

Scientists reported in The Lancet last year that even short bursts of physical exertion, a brisk walk 10 minutes daily, can lengthen a lifespan by three years.

n Sunshine brew

Spend 15 minutes having a morning cuppa sitting beside a window or outside on a patio.

‘Fifteen minutes of sunlight first thing strengthens your body’s sleep-wake cycle, so you’ll feel fresher for the rest of the day,’ says Derk-Jan Dijk, a professor of sleep and physiology at the University of Surrey.

n Beat the munchies

Adding a little sprinkle of cinnamon on porridge or cereal can help stabilise blood sugar and help keep hunger at bay throughout the day, according to some scientific studies

n Sit smart

Taking time to correctly adjust your office chair could save you from having to take time off and avoid the need for hours of expensive specialised physiotherapy treatment.

Sitting in the wrong position while you work for long periods can cause pain in your neck, shoulder, back and legs.

For advice (and a step-by-step video) on sitting correctly, visit the NHS Choices website at nhs.uk

n Smile please

Turn a tiny part of your lunch break to good use: book an appointment with a dental hygienist. You should go at least once a year to ensure your teeth sparkle and you can cut the risk of heart attack by 24 per cent and a stroke by 13 per cent.

Scientists have known for several years that the condition of teeth and gums is strongly linked to the likelihood of heart problems.

Not brushing properly causes plaque to build up, which leads to gum disease. Bacteria then enter the blood stream via the gums, and it is thought that this causes artery walls to become inflamed, which can trigger heart attacks or strokes.

n Protein punch

Eating a protein-rich snack or meal at lunchtime will help give your body a steady supply of energy for the afternoon.

A salad, such as nicoise which has a double protein dose with eggs and tuna, and perhaps boosting its benefit by adding a handful of nuts, will help you resist sweet snacks in mid-afternoon.

n Log off

Turning off a laptop and mobile at least an hour before bed could make for a more peaceful nights sleep as the blue light suppresses melatonin production.