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Small Changes, Big Health Payoffs

Ease back pain, lower your blood pressure, alleviate allergies — in mere minutes

Improve your health

En español l Sometimes all it takes to improve your health are a few easy changes. These 7 tips take just a few minutes, but the payoff will be long-lasting.  

João Fazenda

Tilt up your rearview mirror

This tiny adjustment forces you to sit up straighter to see clearly behind you, which improves posture and can help reduce back and neck pain, says Karen Jacobs, Ed.D., of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Boston University. She also recommends standing and stretching occasionally if you're going to be driving for hours.

João Fazenda

Uncross your legs

Crossed legs, especially at the knees, are bad for your blood pressure. A 2007 Dutch study showed that it upped blood pressure readings and was markedly bad for diabetics. On the good side, crossing your legs at the ankles has no effect on blood pressure.

João Fazenda

High-five your computer screen

To avoid eyestrain, neck and shoulder pain, dry eyes and blurred vision, sit far enough away from your computer screen to be able to give it a high five with your arm fully extended, the Vision Council says. Also, staring at your laptop for just two hours can increase eyestrain, so take short breaks every few hours. And don't forget to blink!

João Fazenda

Pitch your pillow every 18 months

Pillows older than that contain fungi, dead skin and dust mites, all of which can aggravate allergies, asthma and sinusitis. Can't remember how old your pillow is? Fold it in half and squeeze out the air. If it doesn't spring back, it's time for a new one.

João Fazenda

Rent a funny movie

A good belly laugh is good for your heart. Blood vessels dilate when we laugh, researchers say, increasing blood flow and improving cardiovascular health. University of Maryland researchers showed subjects excerpts of two movies and found that blood flow increased 22 percent during the funny one.

João Fazenda

Use the first bathroom stall

Most people seek privacy by using faraway stalls, so the first stall is used least and has the least bacteria, reducing your risk of getting sick, says Allison Janse, author of The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu. Her other tips: Keep your bags off the germy floor and don't forget to wash your hands.

João Fazenda

Downsize your dishes

Fooling your eye can fool your stomach and help you lose weight. Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab found that people ate 22 percent less if they put their food on a 10-inch plate instead of a 12-inch one. If a typical dinner is 800 calories, switching to a smaller plate could mean a weight loss of about 18 pounds in a year for an average adult.

João Fazenda

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