Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy
Bob Dylan Talks!


Military and Veterans Discount


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation


Introducing RealPad by AARP


AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App



Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!


AARP Games - Play Now!

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


6 Ways to Help You Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

Rewire your brain to stop smoking, start a new diet

4. Keep the good habit going for three weeks. A fresh, new habit can be easy for two weeks. Then boredom sets in, as does the temptation to backslide. “We start rationalizing, we find reasons not to go to the gym because it’s not a new habit yet,” explains Coral Arvon, director of behavioral health and wellness at Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami. Soldier through that two-week mark, and don’t let setbacks (sneaking a smoke, too much birthday cake) provide an excuse to abandon your good intentions. See these as mere lapses. Swing back into the new habit. After three weeks, or 21 days, the new habit should become second nature, Arvon says.

5. Get support. Addicts lapse when they lack support, says Kevin Kappler, a California psychologist who specializes in drug and alcohol addiction. To help break a habit, find professional support—a doctor, a weight loss program, even therapy—and ask for support from friends and family “who encourage and reinforce positive changes,” he says.

6. Exercise. Research shows that regular exercise raises the level of a key protein dubbed BDNF, which encourages the growth of new neurons in the brain. And new neurons are essential to rewiring the brain for healthy habits, says Subhash Pandey, director of neuroscience alcoholism research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Indeed, low levels of this key protein are linked to alcoholism and other destructive habits, Pandey notes.  But here’s the good news. To create those new neurons, exercise “doesn’t have to be a marathon,” he says. Regular walking will do it.

You may also like: Save money and work out at home.

Lisa Bertagnoli is a freelance writer who lives in Chicago.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefits adt companion

Members save 20% on new installation of an ADT Companion Service® personal emergency response system.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

reebok membership benefit discount

Members can save 20% on their entire purchase at Reebok Outlet Stores and

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.