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Rehab Your Bad Habits Now

It's never too late to undo the damage from your former smoking, sunning, or couch-potato ways. Learn how to reverse the effects for a healthier future.
Couch potato The Crime: You were a couch potato until you hit your thirties.

It would have been great if you had gotten the exercise bug in your twenties, but don't sweat it. Evidence shows that you'll get health benefits no matter when you start, according to Alpa V. Patel, PhD, an epidemiologist for the American Cancer Society. Case in point: Women who work out regularly -- even if they started later in life -- slash their risk for breast cancer by 25 to 30 percent, according to a recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. You can expect a slew of other health perks, too: stronger bones, a brighter mood, and a reduced risk for heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.

Your rehab plan: Now that you're moving, the trick is to make your new workout kick stick. Whenever you feel like reverting to your lazy days, remember how being active improves your life right now, suggests Michelle Segar, PhD, associate director for the University of Michigan Sports, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls in Ann Arbor. Her studies show that women are more likely to keep up their routine when they focus on the immediate payoffs, such as less stress, higher energy levels, and a more positive outlook. "As a result of regular exercise, you're more likely performing well at work, being a better parent, and not snapping at your spouse," Segar says. "When you think about it that way, it's easier to stay motivated."