Take a moment and think about the last time you went to the doctor for an annual check-up, took a vacation or sat down to a week’s worth of healthy, homemade meals. Can’t remember? You’re probably not alone.
Americans are increasingly busy, with little time to relax, eat healthy, work out, schedule routine doctor appointments and spend time with family — among countless other healthy habits.
No matter how time-crunched you are, it's important to make time for your mental and physical well-being. And today, doing so can be easier than ever thanks to the tech innovations and tools that work to simplify these necessary tasks.
Some people have already found the secret to doing it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) American Time Use Survey, 96 percent of 10,500 people surveyed in 2016 said they spent time every day engaging in some sort of leisurely activity such as watching TV, exercising or socializing. And studies have shown these activities can boost happiness — even something as simple as watching television.
Here are a few solutions for fitting healthy habits into your busy life – without disrupting your packed schedule.
1. Take advantage of meal prepping services
Highly productive people typically have one thing in common: they outsource tasks. When you’re strapped for time, a trip to the grocery store is probably not in the cards – and forget spending hours in the kitchen. Luckily, meal delivery services allow you to order up to a week’s worth of healthy, ready-to-eat meals customizable to your dietary needs and preferences – delivered right to your door. Food is the fuel we all run on, and nutrition consultant Suzanne Fisher, MS, RD, LDN can’t emphasize enough the importance of eating a balanced diet. If spending hours in the kitchen isn’t realistic, delegate your dietary needs to a service that can take the prep work off your plate.
2. Track your exercise using apps
In addition to good nutrition, it’s no secret that exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Mayo Clinic suggests 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week, combined with strength training twice a week. If a trip to the gym isn’t in the cards, fitness trackers can be a helpful tool for monitoring your daily movement and setting fitness goals that can be met by moving more throughout the day. A wearable device can even alert you to when it’s time to get up from your desk and take a quick activity break.
There are also plenty of workout apps available to help you take advantage of those spare minutes between meetings. For example, many exercises can be done with little space and no equipment – meaning you could feasibly do it in the comfort of your own office space.
3. Get preventive screenings
Undergoing preventive screenings has never been easier. One example is colorectal cancer screening; if caught early, the survival rate for colorectal cancer is 90% – as opposed to less than 10% if caught in the latest stage. That’s why it's so important to get screened for colorectal cancer – and thanks to today’s technology, there are non-invasive solutions that can save time spent on a doctor’s visit to focus on the things that matter most.
An innovative screening test called Cologuard is the first and only stool DNA test approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A test for people 50 years and older who are at average risk for colorectal cancer, Cologuard can be used in the privacy of your own home and sent back to Exact Sciences’ Labs using a prepaid UPS shipping label. Exact Sciences sends the Cologuard test results directly to your doctor, who will contact you to discuss next steps.
"Cologuard saves people valuable time while providing peace of mind of a high-performing cancer screening test," said Kevin Conroy, CEO of Exact Sciences, the Wisconsin-based company that developed the colorectal cancer screening test. "We understand that between work and family responsibilities, preventive screening might not be a top priority for many people. But given the dramatic difference in survival rates when colorectal cancer is detected earlier, we wanted to create an easy, non-invasive test that fits into a busy schedule.”
To better understand all of your screening options, and to find out if Cologuard is right for you, download this discussion guide to help you talk with your health care provider.
4. Automate your finances
Ensuring you’re financially fit can ease a lot of stress, and there are plenty of ways to help automate and streamline the more time-consuming aspects of money management. Many banking apps let you set up automatic payments for recurring bills and automatic contributions to savings accounts right from your phone. You can also use platforms that allow you to see all of your accounts in one place. For more complex financial needs, consider hiring a trusted financial advisor to assess your finances and help you meet your goals.
5. Schedule family dinner
Spending time with family is important – but with so many conflicting schedules, it can be tough to remember which member of the family is free on any given night. Scheduling apps not only make it easy to keep track of everyone, but also help identify blocks of time where everyone is free. Once you’ve rallied the troops, Suzanne Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, suggests scheduling “tech-free” family dinners to further encourage family bonding. To make the process more collaborative, she recommends involving family members in planning the menu. Not only will they be more engaged, but they’ll also have more fun.
Cologuard was approved by the FDA in August 2014 and results from Exact Sciences' prospective 90-site, point-in-time, 10,000-patient pivotal trial were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in March 2014. Cologuard is included in the American Cancer Society's (2014) colorectal cancer screening guidelines and the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2016) and National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2016). Cologuard is indicated to screen adults of either sex, 50 years or older, who are at average risk for colorectal cancer. Cologuard is not for everyone and is not a replacement for diagnostic colonoscopy or surveillance colonoscopy in high-risk individuals. False positives and false negatives do occur. Any positive test result should be followed by a diagnostic colonoscopy. Following a negative result, patients should continue participating in a screening program at an interval and with a method appropriate for the individual patient. Cologuard performance when used for repeat testing has not been evaluated or established. For more information about Cologuard, visit www.cologuardtest.com. Rx Only.
 PsychologyToday.com. Can TV Make You Happy? 9 Tips to Ensure that TV Is Boosting, Not Undermining, Your Happiness. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project/201006/can-tv-make-you-happy-9-tips-ensure-tv-is-boosting-not-undermining. Access Sept. 25, 2017.
 Inc.com. 9 Things Really Productive People Refuse to Do. Accessed Oct. 2, 2017. https://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr/9-things-really-productive-people-refuse-to-do.html
 Mrs. Suzanne Fisher, DietitianCentral.com website. http://www.dietitiancentral.com/rd/rd_detail.cfm?id=457. Accessed July 27, 2017.
 MayoClinic.org. How much should the average adult exercise each day? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/exercise/faq-20057916. Accessed Sept. 25, 2017.
 Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Myths and facts about colorectal cancer. https://www.icsi.org/_asset/m9wv5c/Myths-and-Facts-Colon-Cancer.pdf. Accessed July 27, 2017.