The stat: Walk at least six miles a week and you’ll help protect your memory as you get older.
The details: University of Pittsburgh researchers found that people who walked roughly six to nine miles a week had greater gray matter volume (read: bigger brains) than people who didn’t walk as much. Increased gray matter volume has been linked to fewer age-related memory problems (typically, the brain shrinks as you get older, which has been shown to negatively affect memory).
The stat: Get your thyroid checked by your primary care physician and you may have up to a 69 percent lower risk of fatal heart disease.
The details: Study authors at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that women whose thyroid levels were on the high end of the normal range (between 2.5 and 3.5 milli-international units per liter) were nearly 70 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than those whose levels were lower, though they’re not sure of exactly why.
The stat: Lose 7 percent of your body weight if you’re overweight and you can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to
The details: In an American Diabetes Association study of more than 3,000 overweight patients who had a condition called prediabetes (in which blood glucose levels are elevated, though not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes), researchers found that those who reduced body weight through eating less fat and fewer calories and exercising for at least 150 minutes a week were able to delay—or, in some cases, prevent—the development of diabetes. The study authors surmise that weight loss and physical activity improve the body’s ability to use insulin and process glucose.
The stat: Quit smoking and after five years your risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus is cut in half. After 15 years, your risk of developing lung cancer is as low as that of a lifetime nonsmoker.
The details: Cigarette smoke contains at least 250 chemicals that are toxic or carcinogenic, all of which compromise your body’s ability to fight off infection, bacteria, and disease. When you stop exposing your mouth, throat, and lungs to these chemicals, your immune system can begin to work at its maximum potential again, according to the American Lung Association.