45 Simple Swaps For Healthier Choices That Could Change Your Life

by Greatist

This post was written by Laura Schwecherl for Greatist.

Whole grains for white, quality for quantity, Wii Fit for Mario Kart -- just one smart swap can pave the way to a healthier and happier life. We decided to go all out and provide 45 “this for that” tips (full list here), so there are no excuses when it comes to making healthier choices!


1. Planks for Crunches

Okay, have we said this enough? Crunches may not be the secret to six-pack abs. Give planks a try instead to work that whole core.

Extra points for holding it for a minute straight!

2. Interval Workout for Relaxed Run

Congrats on that 26.2-mile marathon. Now try a 20-minute interval run that involves lots of sprinting with some walking recovery. It may kick up the heat even more.

3. Incline for Flat Treadmill

In a perfect, outdoor world, flat roads rarely exist. (Sorry, midwestern readers!) Add some hills to that treadmill run by cranking up the incline, and feel the muscle-building burn!

4. Zumba for Elliptical

Trash that Cosmo-reading elliptical routine and surprise the body with a fun, calorie-burning cardio session. Sure beats staying stuck to a machine.

5. Dynamic for Static Stretching

Stretching out cold muscles could lead to injury. So incorporate some active movement into a stretching routine; try lunges and arm swings before working out.

6. Warming Up for Rushing Right To It

We know that barbell looks tempting. But before hitting the weight rack, do an active warmup to loosen up limbs and get the most out of the workout.

7. Standing for Sitting At A Desk

How often does someone complain about having to sit in a cubicle all day? We have a simple solution (no college degree required): stand.

Use a pile of books to prop up the computer, or purchase one of these.

8. Exercise Ball for Office Chair

Okay, we get it. Some people really don't want to stand at their cubicle. So stay seated, but on a Swiss ball!

It can help with balance and that six-pack. Fitness at the fingertips!

9. Gym for Napping

Falling asleep at the wheel? Pull over. Tired in front of the TV? Hit the gym. It provides a big boost of energy and burns calories.

10. Free Weights for Machines

Skip the big machines (They're sweaty, anyway.) and go for the little guys. Free weights are more versatile and allow for a full range of motion in the joints.

11. Pull-ups for Biceps Curls

Isolating muscles is so 2012. Pull-ups are not only impressive (I can do two, thankyouverymuch.), but they work way more than one muscle. Talk about multitasking.

12. Squats for Leg Press

Forget staying seated to work out the legs. Amp up the training sesh and do some squats to strengthen all the leg muscles, with some gluteus maximus work in there too!

13. Personal Trainer for Guessing Games

Just when we think we've had enough, trainers may help push us through that second set of burpees. Look for a deal online to cut the cost in half!

14. Foam Rolling for Static Stretching

Need to get the knots out? Try using a foam roller instead of sitting and stretching to the toes. It's almost like a personal massage.

15. Exergames for Mario Kart

Mario may be booking it through the race course, but holding the remote control does next to nothing for our own heart rate.

Try out Wii Fit or Just Dance; they're designed to provide light to moderate exercise.

16. Rowing for Biking

How often can we row, row, row a boat indoors? Take advantage of the rowing machine instead of the good 'ol bike; it's a super upper and lower body exercise.

17. Stairs for Escalator

We've heard the tip a million times, so here it is for the millionth plus one. If the option's available, go the old-fashion route and climb the stairs to burn some extra calories.

18. Fun Workout for Dreaded Workout

Loathe the elliptical? Try the stair-master. Hate the bench press? Do push-ups instead.

We can still challenge ourselves without doing exercises we hate.

19. Active Date for Dinner and a Movie

Save a night at that French restaurant for retirement and go on a fun, active winter date with a special someone. Sledding can be just as intimate as duck confit, and it sneaks in a hill-climbing workout, too.

20. Parking Farther Away for Getting a Spot Up Close

There's no need to circle the parking lot five times looking for the perfect spot. Just park farther away and walk the extra 100 feet to Target. (Doesn't count as a trip to the gym, though!)

21. Walking Farther for Running Shorter

New to running? It's okay. Even if a mile is all that's possible, keep walking for a good cardio workout. Hold some light weights to up the intensity even more!

22. Working Out With a Pal for Exercising Alone

Grab that special someone or just a friend and hit the gym; working out with others may strengthen trust. Plus, he or she could help motivate you through that final set of push-ups!

23. Hands-Free Running for Holding Handles

Hands off! On the treadmill, don't rely on the handlebars. They take some of the stress off the body and make that workout less challenging.

24. Cherry Juice for Muscle Medicine

Feeling sore? Rather than popping some pills, try drinking a glass of cherry juice. The antioxidants could help keep muscle swelling down. (Take that, Aspirin!)

25. Homemade Post-Workout Snack for a Protein Bar

Bring a PB&J or another post-workout snack to the gym rather than buying a protein bar. We need some after-exercise fuel, but don't get it in the form of excess sugar!


26. Cooking at Home for Eating Out

Even if we try to eat healthy at a restaurant, that pesky bread bowl or sneaky salad may pack more calories than we planned for. Trust those top-chef skills and turn up the (skillet) heat.

Cooking at home will more likely result in a healthier meal, not to mention a happier wallet.

27. Whole Fruit for Fruit Juice

A glass of OJ's missing the pulp, skin and full fiber content of an orange. Skip the glass and go with the whole piece of fruit to reap the benefits of this sweet, healthy snack.

28. Pan-Fried for Deep-Fried

Obvious Newsflash: Deep-fried food is unhealthy. Keep things crispy by pan-frying lean protein or veggies in the skillet with some cooking oil. We promise it'll be just as tasty!

29. Local Produce for Supermarket Veggies

Take a trip to the farmer's market instead of Walmart's produce aisle. According to the USDA, local, seasonal fruits and veggies may be more nutritious. It helps out local economies, too!

30. Oil and Balsamic for Other Dressings

Ever flip that dressing bottle around and see a million ingredients listed? Think “less is more” and lightly dress a salad with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar -- no additives included!

31. Raw Spinach for Iceberg Lettuce

Let's be real: Iceberg lettuce is boring. Besides, spinach is full of vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium and iron. Plus, Popeye loves it. Can't go wrong!

32. Greek Yogurt for Sour Cream

Sour cream can taste pretty good in a burrito. To get that same creamy coolness, add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to amp up the protein and slash the fat.

33. Cinnamon for Sugar

Here's a spicy suggestion: Using cinnamon, rather than sugar packets, in coffee can heighten the flavor without adding extra calories. Try it in oatmeal too!

34. Salsa for Cream Cheese Dips

You say tomato, I say salsa. Dip the chip into this healthy alternative to cheesy spreads. Plus, salsa packs a fiery, flavorful punch!

35. Frozen Grapes for Popsicles

It may sound a little weird, but hear us out. Stick a bunch of grapes in the freezer and snack on them a few hours later; it's like eating bite-sized Popsicles with no added sugar!

36. Sparkling Water for Soda

Need a carbonation kick? Say sayonara to fructose-filled sodas and fill up with sparking water.

Try a fun flavor like lemon-lime, or even vanilla. So long, Vanilla Coke!

37. Fresh Fruit for Syrup at Brunch

Every now and then, there's nothing like a good stack of pancakes. Cut calories by skipping Aunt Jemima and spreading those cakes with fresh fruit.

38. Air-Popped Popcorn for Chips

On a salt spree? Air-pop some popcorn and add a dash of salt; three whole cups is only about 100 calories. That's way more satisfying than six measly and greasy chips.

39. Red Wine or Beer for a Margarita

Wanna stay healthy at the bar? Ask for a glass of red wine or a beer on tap over a sugar-filled margarita. About half those calories will disappear!

40. Brown Rice for White Rice

It's in our manifesto, so we can't ignore it: White rice is stripped of many essential nutrients (like fiber), so get the full, nutritious benefits of brown rice that'll also help fill us up!

41. Whole-Wheat Pasta for White Pasta

Just like rice, whole-wheat pasta has a nutty flavor that's filled with antioxidants and fiber. White pasta just doesn't do the trick!

42. Oatmeal for Sugary Cereal

Cap'n Crunch and Frosted Flakes should stay a part of our childhood past. One bowl of cereal can be filled with sugar (And who eats only one bowl?), so choose some heart-healthy oatmeal instead.

43. Biking to Work for Driving

If the office is a few miles away, skip the Sedan and hop on the bike (weather permitting). A little bike-ride can boost endorphins before the workday starts! (Paying for gas is no fun, anyway.)

44. Packing Lunch for Eating Out

Lunch boxes aren't just for middle school. Pack a sandwich or some leftovers to bring to school, work, wherever. It'll make that vending machine look far less appetizing.

45. Eating Three Meals for Skipping and Snacking

We should only eat when we're hungry, but being too busy to squeeze in a mid-day meal can leave us feeling tired and grouchy -- not to mention depriving us of essential nutrients to get us through the day!

This post originally appeared on Greatist. 

Citations: Beta-endorphin response to exercise. An update. (PubMed.gov)