young woman eating pastry
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Eat Slowly

This gives your brain the chance to get the signal that you’re full, so you’re less likely to overeat. And if you take it slow, you’re more likely to think about what you’re eating and make sensible, healthy choices. 

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two young women having meal
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Socialize

It’s not about how many people you know or how often you see them. What matters is a real connection with others. It can make you happier, more productive, and less likely to have health problems. So call up a friend and go to dinner, or join a team or club to make some new ones.

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orange sections
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Ditch the Juice, Eat the Fruit

If you like orange juice, have an orange instead. Even 100% pure juice loses nutrition when you process it, and it can put a lot of hidden sugar in your diet. On the other hand, actual fruits are good sources of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and folic acid. And they’re low in fat, sodium, and calories.

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family watching sunset over harbor
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Take Time Off

It’s a time when you can bond with family and friends, which is good for your mental and physical health. People who take more vacations live longer and are less likely to have heart disease and other health problems.

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delivery pizza in box
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Watch the Fat

It’s not as clear-cut as it sounds. You definitely want to keep an eye on trans fats, which are added to some foods (like frozen pizza and baked goods) to keep them fresh. They’ve been linked to heart disease. But some fat -- from dairy, whole eggs, fish, avocado, or nuts, for example -- is good for you as part of a balanced diet. And high-fat dairy may even help you lose weight better than low fat.  This may be because the fat satisfies your hunger better than other calories. 

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two glasses of red wine
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Have a Drink

Yes, we’re talking about alcohol, but please notice the “a drink” part: two a day at most for men, one at most for women. More than that and the health benefits move quickly in the opposite direction. But a little alcohol can be good for your heart health, your stress level, and even your sex life.

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woman stressed in car
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Manage Your Stress

We all have stress in our lives. It makes your muscles tense and your heart race. If this happens a lot -- during your daily commute, for example -- and you don’t handle it well, it can cause serious health problems, including high blood pressure, ulcers, and heart disease. So take time to breathe, do something that calms you, and try to accept what you cannot change -- like rush-hour traffic.

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pouring sugar into a pot
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Cut Back on Sugar

Most of us get way more of it than we need. It’s not just the added calories and the lack of nutritional value: It also can make your blood sugar spike and then crash, and that leaves you tired, hungry, and irritable -- “hangry.”

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woman pushing wheelbarrow of flowers
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Be Active

Exercise is a proven way to improve your health, your mental well-being, and even your libido. You don’t have to sign up for the New York Marathon -- just get your heart rate up for 30 minutes or so a few times a week. Gardening works, and so does a walk around the block. If you can’t make it a habit on your own, try to make it social: Join a local sports league or plan regular runs with a friend.

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man working at standup desk
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Keep Moving

If you work in an office, get up and walk around every hour or so, or try a standing desk for part of the day. You’ll burn more calories, improve your circulation, and stay more alert. It may even help prevent certain health issues, like diabetes and high blood pressure. 

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kale salad
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Eat Your Greens

Kale, spinach, collards, Romaine, arugula, bok choy, broccolini -- make sure you get plenty of these leafy green vegetables. They’re chock full of nutrients, low in calories, and have loads of fiber, which fills you up and satisfies your hunger.

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couple dancing
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Dance

It keeps your mind sharp because it’s a skill that involves body movement, and that’s especially good for your brain. It’s also social and can be lots of fun, which bring health benefits of their own. And you might not even notice that you’re exercising!

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couple having sex in bed
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Have Sex

It’s linked to heart health, brain health, a long life, a strong relationship, and even happiness. Just keep it safe. Get tested for STDs and use condoms to protect yourself and your partner against diseases and unwanted pregnancy.

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woman sleeping in bed
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Get Your ZZZs

A lack of sleep can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. If that’s not enough reason to get your ZZZs, it also causes car crashes and other accidents. Adults should get 7 to 9 hours each night.

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couple outside with their dogs
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Get Outside

The sunlight helps set your sleep clock and leads to more exercise. You’ll also get more vitamin D, which many Americans don’t get enough of. It’s important for cell function, mental health, and heart health. But don’t stay in the sun too long, and wear sunscreen. Too much sun is linked to skin cancer.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 11/14/2016 Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 14, 2016

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

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SOURCES:

Association of Psychological Science: “Moderate Doses of Alcohol Increase Social Bonding in Groups.”

BMI Lab: “Relation of Red Wine With Testosterone.”

CDC: “Sleep and Sleep Disorders,” “Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables: A Nutrient Density Approach,” “Physical Activity and Health.”

ChooseMyPlate.gov: “Why is it important to eat fruit?”

European Heart Journal: “Replacing sitting time with standing or stepping: associations with cardio-metabolic risk biomarkers.”

European Journal of Nutrition: “The relationship between high-fat dairy consumption and obesity, cardiovascular, and metabolic disease.”

Harvard Health Publications: “A prescription for better health: go alfresco,” “Dancing and the Brain,” “Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits,” “Why eating slowly may help you feel full faster.”

Hindawi: “Use of Physical and Intellectual Activities and Socialization in the Management of Cognitive Decline of Aging and in Dementia: A Review.”

LiveScience: “Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging,” “Eggs: Health Benefits & Nutrition Facts,” “Good Fats, Bad Fats: Their Roles in Heart Health Questioned,” “Eating Fast May Make You Fat.”

Oxford Journals: “Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age.”

National Institutes of Health: “Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health,” “The Risks of Sleeping 'Too Much'. Survey of a National Representative Sample of 24671 Adults (INPES Health Barometer),” “How does a vacation from work affect employee health and well-being?” “Effects of Dietary Components on Testosterone Metabolism via UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase,” “Regular moderate intake of red wine is linked to a better women's sexual health,” “Perceived Social Isolation and Cognition,” “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy,” “Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100% Fruit Juice,” “An e-health intervention designed to increase workday energy expenditure by reducing prolonged occupational sitting habits,” “Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the National Institute on Aging,” “Fact Sheet on Stress,” “Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects,” “Sweet Stuff: How Sugars and Sweeteners Affect Your Health.”

Nutrition (Journal): “Fructose content in popular beverages made with and without high-fructose corn syrup.”

Pediatrics: “Fruit Juice Intake Predicts Increased Adiposity Gain in Children From Low-Income Families: Weight Status-by-Environment Interaction.”

SELFNutritionData: “Fullness Factor.”

Society for Personality and Social Psychology: “Couples Who Have Sex Weekly Are Happiest.”

The Journal of Sexual Medicine: “The Relative Health Benefits of Different Sexual Activities.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 14, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.