Health Resolutions Made Easier

Skip extreme resolutions in favor of small, smart health changes you can actually stick to.

Photo by Tina Rupp

Resolutions are great, but let’s face it: The more radical they are, the more likely you are to drop them. And then feel bad about doing so. Instead, try adapting a few smart new habits based on science-supported statistics. The changes you’ll make to your routine are practically effortless (will you have a hard time, say, incorporating chocolate into your diet?), but they can have life-altering benefits.

The stat: Eat chocolate five or more times a week and you may be 57 percent less likely to have coronary heart disease than people who don’t.
The details: Studying more than 4,900 people, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, found that those who ate chocolate—dark, milk, whatever!—five or more times  a week were less likely to have heart disease than chocolate teetotalers. While the study didn’t examine the physiological reasons for the results, experts surmise that the antioxidant flavonoids found in chocolate may help lower blood pressure, which in turn protects the heart.


The stat: Exercise moderately for 30 to 60 minutes a day and you may have up to an 80 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
The details: According to the National Cancer Institute, research from more than 60 global studies shows that women who are physically active have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than their sedentary peers. One explanation: Exercise may prevent tumors from developing by lowering hormone and insulin levels, improving the body’s immune system, and keeping body fat low (having a high percentage of body fat is associated with developing breast cancer).


The stat: See an eye doctor when you detect vision problems as you age and you could decrease your risk of developing dementia by 64 percent compared with people who don’t get their eyes checked.
The details: Using data from Medicare, researchers in this study conducted by the University of Michigan Health System found that elderly people with vision problems that go untreated were more likely to develop dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) than those who sought vision care. In fact, experts now believe that poor vision may be a predictor of dementia (not just a symptom, as was previously thought), if it is not treated.