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31 Days to a Healthier You

Days 7-12

Day 7: Visit Your Local Library
Pick up a book on a topic that's totally new to you. Challenging your brain on a regular basis will improve your memory and reaction time and may prevent disease, according to a recent study.

Day 8: Turn Off That Cell Phone
Motorists who talk on a cell phone while they are driving are 9% slower to hit the brakes, 19% slower to resume normal speed after braking, and four times more likely to crash.

Day 9: Do a Spot Check
A smart way to nip skin cancer in the bud—besides wearing SPF every day—is to examine your skin for potentially cancerous moles once a month, says Amy Wechsler, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. After you shower, scan your entire body, starting at your feet and working your way up to your face. Use a handheld mirror to view tough-to-see spots, like the back of your thighs, which many women miss. If you see any moles that have morphed in shape, color, or texture or are asymmetrical, book an appointment with a dermatologist.

Day 10: Nosh on Nuts
Give yourself an instant energy boost by nibbling on a handful of almonds or cashews, which are high in magnesium. In a recent study, women with below-average magnesium levels had to work harder when performing basic tasks like lifting, and as a result felt more fatigued afterward than those with adequate levels. Low magnesium has also been linked with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Day 11: Turn On Some Tunes
Plug into your iPod and you may also lower your blood pressure, say researchers from Seattle University. The rhythms in music relax blood vessels and moderate the production of stress hormones.

Day 12: Upgrade Your Shower
Chlorine is used in water treatment plants all over the country to make water safe for drinking. But the downside is that it dries out the skin, kills healthy bacteria, and exacerbates conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Screw in a shower filter to protect your body from the damaging effects. You can find one at ($60 and up).

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