The best things in life are free, including your health


Your body has an amazing ability to keep itself healthy. Despite your
best efforts, it continues to function as you strap it down to office
chairs and feed it less-than-premium fuel. Simply considering how much
soda an average American drinks in her lifetime, it’s surprising your
body doesn’t cry out in tears of high-fructose corn syrup.

It’s amazing what you can put yourself through, but health is more
than surviving your lifestyle. It goes far beyond being “not sick” or
“not injured,” or in other words, it isn’t relatively based on not being
something. You might be conditioned to think that being healthy simply
feels OK, but it’s your right as a human being to make it the most
amazing feeling of your life.

And superb health isn’t dictated by money, or even time; it’s an easy
radiance that the most expensive vitamin supplement can’t put into a
pill capsule. Want proof? No matter where you are reading this, there
are three things you can do — right now — that will leave you feeling
better about being alive.

The first is easy: drink a glass of water. Dehydration is one of the
many unseen ways we can stress out our bodies — and in a way that
hinders just about every function. You are probably a lot thirstier than
you ever realize. Water makes up almost three-quarters of your body,
required to flush out the day’s toxins, lubricate your joints and
muscles, and form the foundation for that most-important organ, the

Your temperature, your appetite, your energy, your mood and that
nagging headache can all be improved with some of nature’s sweetest
nectar. Losing 1 or 2 percent of your body weight in fluid is the
beginning of “acute” dehydration; 5 percent is serious, and 10 percent
is fatal. So before you reach for caffeine to perk yourself up, consider
that a simple glass of water may be the jolt your body was really
hoping for.

Did we mention you can get it for free from just about anywhere?

It’s about as free as the air we breathe, which brings up our next
point. Take a long, healthy drag of oxygen like the Marlboro Man pulls
on a robust cigarette. The effects of a deep breath are even more
immediate than a glass of water — breathing is the primary way your body
releases both toxins and tension, two things that promote illness and
disease when your body can’t cleanse itself of them. There are no
problems that taking a few deep breaths can’t soothe. Health is mental
as well as physical, and a little oxygen boost will have you thinking as
well as feeling better.

When spirals of chaos flood your life, return to your breathing and
concern yourself with nothing else. Mr. Miyagi said it in The Karate
Kid, so it must be true. So take an easy breath. Then, monitor where you
feel tension, and let those areas expand with your next breath.
Finally, relax your midsection and allow your body to breathe itself;
breathe out, and watch and enjoy as you fill back up.

You can practically give yourself a full-body massage if you can
practice breathing in this way (it’s not like you do it every second of
every day, right?).

Maybe you work at a job that offers five kinds of in-office massage
therapy, and maybe you don’t; your body is the only thing you need to
loosen up. Flexibility is perhaps the most under-recognized and
under-utilized aspect of fitness, far behind cardio and strength
training at the gym. It can be a workout in itself and helps to ease
your daily movement, increases circulation and reduces small injuries.
More importantly, it’s cheap and available everywhere.

“The human body was conditioned by thousands of years of manual
labor, not stationary work,” says Shane Fishbein, Boulder chiropractor
and owner of Cafe of Life. Sitting for extended periods, he says, causes
unnatural tension in your lower back, tightens your core and leg
muscles, and visibly destroys your posture, which works against natural

“Sitting against a wall is a great barometer for your posture,” he
says. “With your back flat, your shoulder blades should be touching the
wall. If that feels awkward to you, you’re doing something wrong — you
look more normal than it might feel.”
Fishbein adds, “Your life is limited by your body.”

Thankfully, taking care of your body is not limited by your wallet. A
glass of water, a yawn, and a stretch go a long way toward keeping the
doctor away.  Well, that and an apple or two.