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31 Days to a Healthier You

No doctors' visits. No drugstores. No gimmicks. Just a daily easy DIY tip for looking and feeling great all year round.
31 Days to a Healthier You

Day 1: Weigh Your Handbag
If your tote is a dumping ground for everything from junk mail to extra makeup, it's time to lighten your load. The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a bag should not be more than 10% of your body weight. Put yours on your bathroom scale to see how it measures up. "Carrying too much can lead to debilitating back and shoulder pain, overall muscle soreness, and even dangerous nerve compression," says Samuel N. Forjuoh, M.D., director of the division of research at Texas A&M College of Medicine in College Station.

Day 2: Hold Your Husband's Hand
Thirty minutes of skin-to-skin contact promotes the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, resulting in lower blood pressure and a slower heart rate.

Day 3: Go Fish, Twice a Week
A three-ounce serving (the size of a deck of cards) of fatty fish—such as tuna or salmon—every three to four days will help prevent breast cancer, Alzheimer's disease, hypertension, and diabetes, according to research published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. The benefit comes from omega-3 fatty acids, which can also be found in walnuts, tofu, squash, and soybeans.

Day 4: Take a Few Deep Breaths Before Bed
Tossing and turning all night not only leaves you feeling sluggish the next day, it also elevates the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes—especially in women, say researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. "Improve your sleep by focusing on your breathing when you lie down," says lead study author Edward Suarez, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "Concentrate on exhaling and inhaling. Try to stop your mind from wandering to worrisome thoughts about what you need to do tomorrow, or rehashing any problems you faced during the day."

Day 5: Check the Bottom of Your Water Bottle
The jury is still out on whether bisphenol A—an ingredient in many plastic bottles—poses a serious threat to humans, but animal studies have indicated that the compound accelerates the growth of cancerous cells. To be safe, toss bottles that don't have "BPA free" on the bottom.

Day 6: Watch a Sitcom
A TV comedy may be mindless entertainment, but it could give your heart a boost. In a University of Maryland study, people who watched 15 to 30 minutes of a funny show increased their blood flow by about 22% (similar to the benefit from low-intensity exercise). When we laugh, blood vessels dilate due to the release of the protective chemical nitric oxide, which also reduces cholesterol buildup.

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