Can smaller particles be better?

We asked a fitness expert, and his answer can help you stay healthy.

Anyone who eats fruit and is over 30 years old knows that an apple a day won’t keep the doctor away. That said, you may have wondered: Can a small change in behavior make a big difference to your health?

For example, is it better to take the stairs instead of the elevator when and if you go back to the office? Or is it better to continue doing everything in the most appropriate way, and then use the saved time to do vigorous exercise? To find out, we ask this question to an expert, the CEO of Aaptiv James McFaden. (Note that eligible Haven Term members enjoy free Aaptiv subscriptions through the Haven Life Plus bonus rider.) Here’s what they told us.

In this article:

Start small

When asked if it’s worth doing the little things to get fit, McFaden is unequivocal: “100% it works,” he says. “Even one minute a day can make a difference because you are creating different behaviors. Often people think that if they don’t exercise for an hour, or deal with big pictures, granular things are not worth it. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.” He added that “The truth is, small things add up over time, so even if you just make a 1% change every day, it adds up over time.”

As an example of the small things one can do, McFaden says, “I just got back into meetings, so I put my headphones on so I can move quickly while I’m talking to you.” (It should be noted that McFadden doesn’t sound like he’s resting or exercising himself, but he’s definitely a professional exerciser.) “Walking is a very low-impact sport,” he says. “Not only does it burn calories, but it also improves mental clarity and focus. Going outside for 10 minutes without a phone keeps the brain and body in tune with the mind and body.”

If you want to do something fast that feels more intentional, “I have clients get up and do a one-minute plank, 10 jumping jacks or 50 squats,” says McFaden. All of those are things you can do during the work day if you have a place to be alone for a moment. (Processing in meetings can be frowned upon.) In this way, another option is to “put on your favorite song and get up and dance for three minutes.” Again, this may be better in a private setting, although you never know – turning all your hands into a dance party can lead to promotion.

“Even one minute a day can make a difference… But that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

-Jaime McFaden, principal with Aaptiv

Some ideas to get you started

So what are the little things a busy person with an office job can do?

“Many of my clients work more than 40 hours a week, and they don’t wake up very often,” says McFadden. “For people who are experiencing this, setting an alarm on your phone so that every hour when you wake up, have a glass of water and walk around for a few minutes is important.” This of course has the bonus that almost anyone can do it, almost anywhere.

At the beginning of the day, McFaden says, you can “have a morning ritual that includes self-care. A few minutes after waking up, stretch your body a little bit – just reach your arms up, take a deep breath and maybe twist your sides gently. When you wake up, drink a lot of water; if you want to have electrolytes, put lemon and salt in it to start your metabolism.

You don’t even need to do a lot of planning to make a small but useful change. “Just doing something as simple as parking a little further away from the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator,” he says. “Not only will you improve your health, but you’ll also help increase your focus and clarity.”

If this all sounds simple, that’s because it is. And it should be. To get the most out of small actions, McFaden says we need to look for “things that we can do forever. Instead of thinking of it as a sprint to get somewhere, think of it as a marathon, that you can do for the rest of your life.”

Our maintenance schedule

Haven Life is a consumer life insurance company sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We hope that decisions about life insurance, your finances and your overall health can be made easier.

Our maintenance schedule

Haven Life is a consumer insurance company sponsored by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We hope that decisions about life insurance, your finances and your overall health can be made easier.

Our content is for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or methods described here, but we believe they can make your life easier if they are suitable for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to provide tax, legal or financial advice. This information is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon as, tax, legal, or financial advice. People are encouraged to get advice from their tax or legal advisor.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in some states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and issued through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in some jurisdictions, including NC) issued by CM Life. Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy form numbers and riders may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by AM Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top 15). The price is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received mixed ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the trade name for Plus passengers, which is included as part of the Haven Term plan and provides access to additional services and benefits at no cost or discount. The rider is not available in any region and may change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual is responsible for the benefits and services available under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (affiliates). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

You might like it too

  • A young man with tattoos is exercising on the dock
  • Gays having fun at home on the sofa
  • Athletes stretching on a boat in the sun

Get the stories we read the most, twice a month

  • Be prepared to spend an extra $20 per month on your first quote even if you’re in good health. Had their test, everything came back to normal (green) but still gave me back my original voice. A little disappointing.

  • Easy and smooth operation process. Great learning!

  • It was very easy, fast, and the price was better than expected. If you are looking for long term insurance this is the place.

  • The process was very simple. My blood work was done at home. The post contained additional questions that we answered via email. The process could not have been easier and my family is now protected.

  • Best of the internet…I will be recommending THE HAVEN LIFE EXPERIENCE to my friends and family! THANK YOU!