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14 Simple Ways to Turn Your Health Around

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Every Afternoon

Catch Some Rays

Getting too little natural light not only affects your mood but can also mess with your internal clock, making you drowsy during the day but wired when it's time to sleep, says Gary Aston-Jones, PhD, a professor of neuroscience at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

Our best advice: Although researchers don't know exactly how much natural light we need, Aston-Jones believes that light's influence over our circadian rhythms indicates that even a little bit can be crucial. His suggestion: Go outside for at least 10 extra minutes of sunlight every day. To get the full spectrum of light, which may be the most beneficial, venture out at the brightest time of day. Don't forget the sun block!

Carve Out Some Off-the-Net Time

As useful as computers and handhelds are, e-mail, message boards, and just plain surfing are highly addictive. "It's incredibly easy to do nothing else, when most of us are already too sedentary," says Jack Guralnik, MD, PhD, chief of the laboratory of epidemiology, demography, and biometry at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Maryland.

Our best advice: Take off all of your electronic leashes for several hours at least once a day, Monday through Friday -- say, during and after dinner -- and on weekends. (Sorry, the time that you're asleep doesn't count!) Use the hours that you're disconnected to do something healthy, like taking a walk rather than watching TV. When you hop back on the computer to shop or answer e-mail, give yourself a limit. Set a timer for an hour: When it goes off, you log off.

Have a Superlight Lunch

Yes, you need to eat regular meals, but could they be smaller? Certainly, says Christiaan Leeuwenburgh, PhD, a professor of aging and geriatric research at the University of Florida's College of Medicine in Gainesville. "You may find you have more energy if you eat lightly, because cells may work at their optimal level when they're not supersaturated with calories," he explains. What's more, consuming fewer calories over a life-span can reduce and even reverse age-related cell damage.

Our best advice: You know what counts as light: a salad, half a sandwich, a cup of soup. But if you want to go even further, Leeuwenburgh suggests having an apple or other piece of fruit instead of lunch on days when breakfast is late or dinner will be early. If you have any medical conditions, check with your doctor first.

Next:  Every Night

 

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