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14 Simple Ways to Turn Your Health Around

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As Often as You Can

Avoid Smoky Places

"Even when you sit in nonsmoking areas, you're still breathing in toxins -- and there is no safe level of exposure," says David Coultas, MD, of the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler.

Skip the Cola

Women who down more than three servings a week have lower bone density (a marker for osteoporosis) than those who drink less. "The body draws out calcium to buffer the phosphoric acid in cola," explains Katherine Tucker, PhD, of Tufts University in Boston.

Take a Brisk 30-Minute Walk

A recent study confirmed that regular aerobic exercise (three hours a week) increases brain volume in older adults, which translates to better concentration and memory. "In younger people, this can help stave off mental decline, which starts in your 20s," says Arthur Kramer, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Turn Down Your MP3 Player

Prefer your music cranked? You could be risking eventual hearing loss. If you use your MP3 player for up to four hours a day, listen at 70 percent of the maximum volume, tops, says Brian Fligor of Children's Hospital Boston.

Hold Hands

When it's with someone you're close to, like your partner, holding hands can decrease activity in the parts of the brain that release harmful stress hormones, says Jim Coan, PhD, of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Heck -- give 'em a hug!

Next: more tips on how to live longer!


Originally published in FITNESS magazine, February 2007.


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