When it comes to building healthy habits, there's a few fundamental rules to follow in order to be successful:
1) Pick the right habits to work on
2) Start with "atomic habits" or actions that are small and take under 2-minutes
3) Use habit tracking to measure your progress
I've put together this list of 15 good habits after helping 350+ people track over 10,000 habits with Harold, the first ever SMS-based habit tracker. Harold takes care of the tracking part for you, by sending you on text a day, so you can focus on the habit itself. I looked at the data and pulled out these 15 science-backed habits because they are easy to put into practice and make a part of your daily routine.
This list will not only tell you what habits to build, but give you a template for how to track them. Whether you use a printable habit tracker, a habit tracking app, or any other habit tracking template, this list of habits will set you up for success with tracking. You can make any of these a daily habit with the help of a habit tracker.
Bonus at the end: I've included some honorable mention ones based on their uniqueness and creativity.
Let's get to it!
Here's 15 Good Habits for Physical Health You Can Start Tracking Today:
1. One pushup a day
You can play around with the number here (or the exercise), but the idea is to start small. Once you do 1, and you're already on the ground in the push-up position, you're likely to do more. The point is, it's easier to start when you're planning on only doing one. Doing pushups can also snowball into doing more exercises. You're already doing it, might as well do some sit-ups too! This is an excellent habit for people just starting to get back into exercising.
Here are some examples of how people tracked this habit with Harold:
- Did you do 1 push up today?
- Did you do 1+ push-ups?
- Did you do 5 pushups today?
- How many pushups did you do?
- Did you touch your pull-up bar?
- Did you 10 squats today?
2. Physical activity for at least 20 minutes
This is a good one if you're already pretty active and want to make sure your consistently getting the recommend amount of exercise (about 21 minutes a day). Questions look like:
- Did you do physical activity for at least 30 minutes?
- Did you move your body for 30 minutes today?
- Did you go to a workout class?
3. Drink at least two glasses of water
Water is essential. It helps our body deliver nutrients and oxygen to our cells and organs. It aids in digestion and flushing bacteria from our bladder, along with many other benefits. (Psst, also if you're drinking alcohol, it can help prevent those hangovers). Even though it's not a challenging task, we can sometimes forget to incorporate drinking enough water into our daily routine.
The biggest thing here is to build awareness around it with tracking. Start with something small and doable and once you do it, you're likely to just continue and do more. Another big reason starting small is beneficial: because it's so achievable, you're less likely to give up. The biggest thing with habit building is consistency. So it's better to drink two cups of water for 5 days of the week than to shoot for 8, not make it, and then give up.
Here are the questions Harold users are asking:
- Did you drink at least two glasses of water today?
- How many glasses of water did you have today?
- Did you drink a gallon of water today?
4. Improve Diet with 1 Vegetable a Day
Are you catching on to a theme here? Start small, and then make your habits more challenging once you get them down. Eating healthy is something we all know is good for our physical health, but there are so many different approaches. Here are some of the ways Harold users are doing it:
- Did you eat a vegetable today?
- Did you have a salad for lunch?
- Did you avoid sweets/candy today?
- Did you hit your macros today?
- How many healthy meals did you have today?
6. Get outside
Ah, fresh air! This is one of my favorite ones. It's so easy and it's such a mood booster. This is one of those small, doable habits that will compound into so many other things. Dr. Andrew Huberman, Professor of Neurobiology and Ophthalmology at Stanford University School of Medicine says that at least 5-10 minutes of sunlight within the first 30 minutes of waking up can increase your cognitive functioning and productivity. Pretty cool right!
Here are some ways to track this habit with Harold:
- "Have you walked around the block?
- Did you get out for a walk?
- Did you take [insert dog's name] walking?
- Did you get sunlight this morning?
7. Limit alcohol
This is a big one. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my glass of wine, cocktail or hard kombucha, but if we want to increase our physical health, it's best to limit our alcohol intake as best we can. It's not good for you, we all know that, but it also affects your sleep, which can affect your ability to get your other healthy habits done the next day.
Tracking can be a great way to be more mindful about it:
- How many drinks did you have today?
- Did you have any alcohol today?
8. Start a bedtime routine at a reasonable hour
Everybody's internal clock is different, so the exact time is up to you. But getting good sleep is a huge part of physical health and it also cascades and affects the rest of your day. If you get a good night's rest, you are more likely to complete your other habits as well.
Here is how you can track these with your habit tracker:
- Did you go to bed before 10pm?
- Did you get to sleep on time last night?
- What time did you start reading and winding down?
- Did you wake up before 8am?
9. Stretch for 5 minutes
Stretching is so good for you! And it feels good, so why not? If it feels boring to you, throw in a podcast for find a stretching video on Youtube to guide you. Even 5 minutes will move you in the right direction.
Here's some ideas for how to track this habit:
- Did you stretch for 5 minutes?
- Did you sit on the floor and listen to a podcast?
- Did you do your 10-15 minutes of stretches today?
- Did you stretch today?
- Did you do yoga before work today?
10. Take your supplements/medications or other treatments
I don't take any supplements and therefore am not advising you take them or not. The point here is, if you're directed by a doctor or medical professional to take a supplement or medication it's important that you take them consistently! We have many people using Harold to track their medications. Here are some examples:
- Did you take your medicine today?
- Did you take your supplements today?
- Did you do your treatment?
- Did you do your physical therapy?
11. Write down one thing you're grateful for
Gratitude might be one of the simplest and most beneficial habits on this list, and it's been proven by science!
This study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that adopting a gratitude journaling practice for 14 days "increased positive affect, subjective happiness and life satisfaction, and reduced negative affect and depression symptoms". Now that's a good habit! Here's how Harold users are tracking their gratitude practice. You can see it looks a little different for everyone!
- Did you say thank you for the gift of another day?
- Did you do your gratitude?
- Did you send love to a friend?
- Did you pray today?
12. Read 1 page
A lot of us read emails, articles, and social media posts online all day. And although that might be useful and fun, we all know it's not as beneficial as sitting down and reading a real book. Starting with just 1 page a day is a great strategy. Unless you're reading the dictionary, you know you'll want to read more. Some suggestions if you want to track it:
- Did you read your book today?
- Did you read 1 page of something today?
- How long did you read today?
- Did you read for 5 minutes this morning?
13. Practice deep breathing
This can also be called "meditating for beginners". If you're more experienced with meditating, maybe shoot for a habit of meditating for at least 5 minutes a day. You can always find 5 minutes, right? And some days you'll do more. If you're not experienced with meditation, you can simply find a comfortable seat and take deep breaths in your nose and out your mouth.
- Did you sit still and take 5 breaths today?
- Did you meditate today?
- Did you meditate for at least 5 minutes today?
14. Journal for 5 minutes
Journaling is such a great habit to adopt, but many people don't know how to journal or what they should be journaling about. There is a lot of different styles to choose from. You could do daily entries about what you're thinking about, doodle, write out things you're thankful for, or write out a to-do list. If you're just getting started, start by getting a journal, opening up a page, and seeing what comes out!
Here's how you could track it:
- Did you journal today?
- Have you journaled for 10 minutes today?
- Did you read tarot today?
- Have you been reflecting?
15. Limit Screen Time
I could write a full article about this. This is one that that has lots of ripple effects. If you reduce your screentime, you are likely to see improvements in sleep, mood, self-control and cognitive abilities.
One study found that more than 1h/day of screentime was correlated with "lower psychological well-being, including less curiosity, lower self-control, more distractibility, more difficulty making friends, less emotional stability, being more difficult to care for, and inability to finish tasks". That's a lot of adverse effects. How does this help with your physical health? You can use all that extra time to do those push-ups.
If you're looking to change one good habit that will improve your life drastically, this is an excellent habit that may be the one you focus on.
Here's ways to track and build a habit of limiting screentime:
- Did you turn off your phone an hour before bed?
- Did you choose poetry before screens today?
- Did you journal before opening your computer today?
- What was your screen time today?
- How many hours were you on your phone today?
Honorable Habit Mentions:
These didn't fit into any category, but they were too good not to list!
- Did you prep for Thot Girl Summer today?
- Did you play with the kids today?
- Have you found your small win today?
- Did you make your relationship a bit better today?
- Billy Billy on the wall, did you tweet to them all?
- Did you meet somebody new today?
What good habits will you build?
In the end, it's not rocket science to know what habits are good for us. The hard part is actually doing them. That's why I built Harold. He helped me build and stick with habits that set my life on a new course.
Maybe you have a bullet journal, or a printable habit tracker, or one you hang on you fridge. That's great! If it's working for you, stick with it. If you're like me and spend hours getting it set up, but then never actually fill it out, Harold might be a good solution for you too.
Start your 7-day free trial here 👉 https://haroldthehabittracker.com/
You can finally be the type of person who is able to stick with habits. And once you do that, you're unstoppable.