31 Ways to Better Health

A simple day-by-day plan to help you crush the month.

sam moulton lying

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What can you do to improve your life in a day? An hour? A minute? Even if you get enough sleep and work too hard, you still have more than enough time to make small but significant changes. They might seem inconsequential at the time, but given a month, you'll be surprised how quickly little shifts like parking farther from your office or adding one more cup of coffee add up. Get ready to feel awesome.

Day 1

Drink up! Alcohol (about a drink a day) lessens the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Day 2

Get a flu shot. You've got one day until you're back in your germ-infested office.

Day 3

Bring a bag of walnuts to work for snack time. They reduce blood pressure and smooth the body's stress response.

walnuts 31 ways to better health

Day 4

Park your car farther from the office. Walking at least six miles a week protects the brain against shrinking with age.

Day 5

And today, bring a reusable water bottle. Fill it regularly. More bathroom breaks can help you earn those miles.

Day 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.

Day 7

TGIF! Set your computer screen to a Caribbean beach. Looking at pictures of tranquil scenes stimulates your brain to create new neural connections.

island vacation 31 ways to better health

Day 8

Kick off your Saturday morning with a crossword puzzle. Using your brain in different ways may help stave off Alzheimer's.

Day 9

Go for a Sunday run—but don't stretch beforehand. Static stretching before exercise actually reduces endurance; do it afterwards.

Day 10

Monday-morning java! Drinking a cup or more a day may reduce your risk of a brain tumor.

Day 11

Don't stress about making six digits. The happiest people, according to a 2010 survey, make about $75,000 a year, no more.

Day 12

Instead of e-mailing, get up and walk to see your colleagues in person.

Day 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.

pushups exercise 31 ways to better health

Day 14

Book yourself a massage for Saturday. Even one session can lower your risk of high blood pressure.

Day 15

Install some blackout shades on your bedroom windows. Exposure to light at night increases the risk of weight gain.

Day 16

At the grocery store, buy two pounds of black rice. It contains more antioxidants than blueberries, at a fraction of the price.

Day 17

Also pick up some supplements. (Sorry for the extra trip!) Most people need vitamin B-6, vitamin D, folic acid, and a multivitamin.

supplements 31 ways to better health

Day 18

Ask someone out. In a new study, unmarried, long-term partners enjoyed the same reductions in stress hormones as the legally wed.

Day 19

Take a 20-minute break today to get some sun. Low vitamin D levels, common in athletes, have been linked to memory problems.

Day 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.

Day 21

After work tonight, meditate. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Doing this regularly can decrease your chances of a heart attack or stroke.

Day 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.

Day 23

Don't check your e-mail. Those who unplug and relax on occasion live longer.

Day 24

Invite a friend to go for a run or hike. Having a workout buddy increases your chances of compliance.

hiking 31 ways to better health
(Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock)

Day 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.

Day 26

Clean out your junk drawer. Doing housework reduces melancholy in white-collar workers.

Day 27

Take a day off. Most employees have “personal days” and never use them.

Day 28

Drink some black cherry juice. Swilling the juice after a tough workout lessens inflammation and aids in recovery.

Day 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.

Day 30

Volunteer at a local charity. Volunteering can boost your happiness by 10 percent and improves overall health.

Day 31