10 Ways to Be Healthier Now

Work toward better health with these tricks.

1. Grab some grains
Wake up to a bowl of whole-grain cereal to lower your risk of heart failure, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Whole grains can help reduce the likelihood of high blood pressure.

2. Have that cup of joe
Moderate amounts of coffee might lower the risk for diabetes among middle-age and older women, research indicates. Fill up your cup, but skip the sugary add-ins.

3. Be snack savvy
Keep healthful bites, like an apple and a handful of nuts, within easy reach so that when hunger strikes, you don’t go straight to the vending machine for a candy bar. A smart snack can increase your energy. Plus, having a piece of fruit and sipping some water in the late afternoon might help you avoid overeating at dinner.

4. Kick the can
Drinking sugary sodas can cause you to pack on extra pounds—especially because people who drink sodas typically don't compensate for the extra calories elsewhere in their diet, researchers say. Try mixing a small amount of grape juice with seltzer, or jazz up a sparkling water with a squirt of lime juice or a few cucumber slices.

5. Try sushi
Don't worry, no one is forcing you to eat raw fish. Many sushi rolls come cooked; just ask before you order. Feasting on fish—whether it's rolled in rice or not—two to four times a week could lower your risk of heart disease by 31 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association. Try fish, like salmon, that are high in omega-3 fatty acids; lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure and slow down the rate at which plaque builds up in your arteries.

6. Breathe deeply
Try a yoga class or an at-home DVD. Your heart will thank you for the exercise and strees relief. Or try meditation, which studies have indicated can help lower blood pressure and body weight and improve cholesterol levels. To get started, check out the simple techniques at like gaiam.com

7. Buddy up
Married couples in an Indiana University study who worked out together were more likely to stick with an exercise program; half of those who exercised on their own threw in the towel. Start the day off right by taking a brisk 30-minute walk with a partner or friend. Join an exercise group. Many churches and community centers organize them, or log onto fitness.meetup.com

8. Maximize your muscles
Toning up could help you lose more weight than you think. In fact, strength training can boost your metabolism by up to 15 percent, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Take a strength-training class or rent a workout DVD to get yourself into shape.

9. Cut back on cocktails
Drinking alcohol on a regular basis has been linked to increased blood pressure. Alcohol also adds calories, and that can lead to weight gain. Have no more than one drink per day, the American Heart Association advices.

10. Rethink your birth control
Oral contraceptives can raise blood pressure. A recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration study found that some newer formulations of birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots, so the FDA does not recommend that women older than 35 who smoke use them. If you light up—even if you're only a social smoker—talk with your doctor about switching to another birth control method or going off the pill until you're able to quit.