Some actions yield significantly higher returns than others.
There are 5 things you can do on a daily basis, and another 5 things to do on a weekly basis, that will dramatically improve your life.
When I say improve your life, I mean help you make the most of each day, and live a longer and more fulfilling life.
Here is a daily and weekly checklist for a better life:
30 Minutes of Moderate Exercise
Taking just 30 minutes per day to move your body — which equates to only 3% of your waking hours — will produce profound mental and physical benefits.
You will be mentally sharper, less anxious, and have a more optimistic outlook on life. You’ll lose weight, look better, and reduce your risk of numerous diseases.
Other examples of moderate exercise include biking, jogging, hiking, swimming, or even yard work. It really doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as you get your body moving and heart pumping.
A good rule of thumb is that you should sweat from exercise at least once per day.
2. 10 Minutes of Meditation
Meditation is another daily habit that works wonders for your mind and body.
Meditation has been proven to lower blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, increase focus, and strengthen your memory.
And while the benefits of meditation accumulate over time, you can see dramatic results with just a 10-minute practice per day.
3. 10+ Minutes of Reading/Learning
In our rapidly-changing world, it is more important than ever to be continuously learning. It is also highly fulfilling to be a lifelong learner.
It is no surprise that reading is a common habit among the world’s most productive and successful people.
Devote at least 10 minutes per day to reading or some other form of learning (this could be an audio book, podcast, TED talk, etc.).
Cultivating this practice will expand your mind, deepen your interests, and make you more interesting at cocktail parties. You don’t need to read for hours on end, but make sure to turn the page every day.
4. 5+ Servings of Fruits and Vegetables
I have read numerous books about the ultimate human diet, and the science is very clear on one point: a whole-food, plant-based diet is best. Every great diet revolves around fruits and vegetables.
Eating mostly fruits and vegetables is arguably the most important thing you can do for your health and longevity.
Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day has been shown to add an extra 3 years of life expectancy.
But more is even better.
Eating at least 7 portions of fruit and veggies a day can lower your risk of premature death by 42%. Going up to 10 servings a day is associated with double-digit percentage decreases in the risks for heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature deaths.
5. 8 Hours of Sleep
As much as I hate to admit it, sleep is essential for health and vitality.
Adequate sleep makes you happier, improves learning and memory, and prevents against diseases like Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.
We need to be getting about 8 hours of sleep per night. Anything less won’t cut it.
If you want to establish a healthy relationship with sleep, here is a toolkit for a great night’s sleep.
1. 45 Minutes of Vigorous Exercise
While a moderate daily exercise routine is essential as a foundation, it is also important to turn it up a notch on a weekly basis.
Aim to get up to at least 70% of your maximum heart rate for at least 45 minutes. You can work up to this intensity over time.
Examples of vigorous exercise including running, swimming laps, biking uphill, singles tennis or squash, soccer, basketball, circuit weight training, and various other group or individual fitness activities.
This weekly workout can replace one of your daily moderate exercise sessions.
2. 30 Minutes of Yoga
A weekly yoga practice will help to reduce stress, challenge the brain, and increase your flexibility.
Yoga has also been proven to reduce inflammation, improve heart health, enhance sleep, and build strength.
You don’t need to practice yoga every day to see these benefits, but it should be a part of your weekly routine.
3. Attend Faith-Based Services
Practicing your faith or religion helps connect you with like-minded people, creates a sense of community, and focuses you on something bigger than yourself.
Research shows that attending faith-based services once a week adds 4–14 years of life expectancy.
This holds true regardless of the faith you practice.
If you do not connect with any religion, try joining a club that aligns with your interests instead. Joining a group that meets even once a month has been shown to produce the same happiness boost as doubling your income.
This could be a book club, walking club, wine tasting club, sports club, or anything else that is meaningful for you.
4. Volunteer or Give Back
Volunteering (or some other form of giving back) enables you to make a difference in other peoples’ lives, and it makes you feel better about yourself at the same time.
The world is in need of your skills, time, and resources. So find a cause that is important to you and pay it forward on a weekly basis.
Volunteering or donating money has been shown to make people happier and more financially successful as well.
If you feel strapped for time, then keep it simple. Even buying a coffee for someone behind you in line at Starbucks will brighten the day.
Giving back — with your time or money — provides meaning in your life, and it is simply the right thing to do.
5. Make Social Plans
Social relationships are the number 1 predictor of overall happiness in life.
Strong relationships are vital for health, productivity, career success, and overall well-being.
While it would be ideal to socialize for 6 hours each day, it is far more manageable to commit to one social outing per week.
Many of the above daily and weekly habits can be done with others in a social setting, so that’s a great place to start.
You could also consider arranging a weekly happy hour with friends or get your neighbors together for a potluck dinner.
There you have it — 5 daily and 5 weekly habits that are practical and actionable to improve your life.
Use these checklists to plan your days and your weeks.
If you build in these 10 items (5 daily and 5 weekly) before you plan anything else, you will be way ahead of the game.
You will be maximizing your days and adding years to your life. And you’ll have fun doing it.
Live by this daily and weekly checklist and you will live a better life.
Andrew Merle writes about living well, including good habits for health, happiness, productivity, and success. Subscribe to his email list at andrewmerle.com.