Small changes can mean big help for your body

losing weightGood health isn't just in the details, but small things can certainly add up.

Eat 100 calories extra a day and you could weigh 10 pounds more at the end of the year. Wearing the same shoes every day can strain your body. Regular exposure to subway noise can not only affect your hearing, but also raise your blood pressure and levels of stress hormones. A poorly organized workspace can result in back and neck discomfort that shouldn't be ignored.

"Those little aches and pains — that's your body telling you something isn't right," says Alan Hedge, Ph.D., professor of ergonomics at Cornell University.

Fortunately, you don't have to overhaul your life to keep small problems from becoming big ones. There are lots of easy ways to take some of the burden off of your body — marginal changes that won't disrupt conference calls, tennis games or dining plans.

Taking an extra minute to pack your luggage symmetrically and carefully remove your carry-on bag from a plane's overhead compartment, for example, can prevent months of unnecessary back pain, says Dr. Leon Benson, associate professor of clinical orthopedic surgery at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

"It's OK for those people behind you to wait in the plane another 10 seconds," he says. "The fact is, if you stretch a muscle in your back, people will actually wind up missing work, and they can't sleep properly. It makes a huge difference."

When it comes to your diet, you don't have to go vegan. But skipping some of the fatty snacks and eating a few more fruits and vegetables can help boost your mood and energy as well as protect your heart. A new study in The Journal of Nutrition reports that each additional portion per day of fruits and vegetables you eat can cut the risk of heart disease by four percent, says Cynthia Sass, a Tampa-based registered dietician and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

And though quitting cigarettes is a large undertaking for many smokers, it's a small price to pay for being able to see. Smoking can double your risk for macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in adults, says Dr. Lylas Mogk, director of the Henry Ford Health System's Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Detroit and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish, also can help prevent dry eyes.

To encourage people to make these small changes in their lifestyles and prevent chronic and deadly diseases down the road, Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health has launched a campaign called Healthy Monday. While Friday is known as pay day and Saturday is for play, the goal is to get the public, health-related companies, media and health organizations to promote Monday as "health day".

source