31 Ways to Better Health

A simple day-by-day plan for the month of January.

Our microwaveable Western diet and workaholic lifestyles have compromised our bodies' natural detox systems.     Photo: Inga Hendrickson

1/1 Drink up! Alcohol (about a drink a day) lessens the risk of sudden cardiac death.
1/2 Get a flu shot. You've got one day until you're back in your germ-infested office.
1/3 Bring a bag of walnuts to work for snack time. They reduce blood pressure and smooth the body's stress response.
1/4 Park your car farther from the office. Walking at least six miles a week protects the brain against shrinking with age.
1/5 And today, bring a reusable water bottle. Fill it regularly. More bathroom breaks can help you earn those miles.
1/6 You're almost to the weekend. Turn out the lights at ten. Men getting less than six hours of shut-eye a night are more likely to die at a younger age.
1/7 TGIF! Set your computer screen to a Caribbean beach. Looking at pictures of tranquil scenes stimulates your brain to create new neural connections.
1/8 Kick off your Saturday morning with a crossword puzzle. Using your brain in different ways may help stave off Alzheimer's.
1/9 Go for a Sunday run—but don't stretch beforehand. Static stretching before exercise actually reduces endurance; do it afterwards.
1/10 Monday-morning java! Drinking a cup or more a day may reduce your risk of a brain tumor.
1/11 Don't stress about making six digits. The happiest people, according to a 2010 survey, make about $75,000 a year, no more.
1/12 Instead of e-mailing, get up and walk to see your colleagues in person.
1/13 Sometime today, drop and give us 20. Try to work up to two sets of 25 by month's end. More muscle mass increases your metabolism.
1/14 Book yourself a massage for Saturday. Even one session can lower your risk of high blood pressure.
1/15 Install some blackout shades on your bedroom windows. Exposure to light at night increases the risk of weight gain.
1/16 At the grocery store, buy two pounds of black rice. It contains more antioxidants than blueberries, at a fraction of the price.
1/17 Also pick up some supplements. (Sorry for the extra trip!) Most people need vitamin B-6, vitamin D, folic acid, and a multivitamin.
1/18 Ask someone out. In a new study, unmarried, long-term partners enjoyed the same reductions in stress hormones as the legally wed.
1/19 Take a 20-minute break today to get some sun. Low vitamin D levels, common in athletes, have been linked to memory problems.
1/20 Buy a juicer (try the Breville JE900 Juice Fountain, from $100). A juice made from kale, spinach, pineapple, lemon, and ginger is liquid gold in a glass.
1/21 After work tonight, meditate. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Doing this regularly can decrease your chances of a heart attack or stroke.
1/22 It's Saturday night. Have some dessert—but make it chocolate. Chocolate milk is almost as effective as red wine at reducing bodily inflammation and cardiac-disease risk.
1/23 Don't check your e-mail. Those who unplug and relax on occasion live longer.
1/24 Invite a friend to go for a run or hike. Having a workout buddy increases your chances of compliance.
1/25 Sign up for a twice-a-week yoga class. An hour of yoga produces more neural chemicals associated with good mood than an hour of walking.
1/26 Clean out your junk drawer. Doing housework reduces melancholy in white-collar workers.
1/27 Take a day off. Most employees have "personal days" and never use them.
1/28 Drink some black cherry juice. Swilling the juice after a tough workout lessens inflammation and aids in recovery.
1/29 Plan a poker night with the boys.A new study found that a stimulating environment, including toys and exercise wheels, dramatically reduced lab mice's risk of developing any cancer.
1/30 Volunteer at a local charity. Volunteering can boost your happiness by 10 percent and improves overall health.
1/31 Repeat.

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