17 Shortcuts To Perfect Health

VIDEO: Tips on how to overcome obstacles in the new year.

Chastity Hardman is no Miss America. But like the nation's reigning babe, she's a knockout in a swimsuit and a dedicated do-gooder. The big difference? Chastity's first-runner-up finish in Las Vegas means there's a chance you could land a date with her in this lifetime (granted, it's still a long shot).

Here's the point: Your life is filled with the struggle between perfection and possibility. For example, the best thing you can do for your hearing is to wear earplugs to concerts. Do you? Not unless you want to look like someone's chaperone. So look cool, but go deaf? No, you need the aural equivalent of a second-place beauty-pageant contestant—an alternative that's almost as good but a heck of a lot easier to introduce into your life.

Keep reading. We've brought together the first runners-up for everything from religiously slathering on sunscreen to eating six servings of fruits and vegetables a day, from changing your car's oil every 3,000 miles to getting your annual flu shot. Like a great woman, each will make you a better man without making you miserable.

Don't Eat Fish Twice a Week?

You're not missing out on much, just a little puddle of oil that can reduce your risk of heart disease, ease post-workout muscle soreness, help you fight depression, and possibly even protect you from Alzheimer's. It's omega-3 fatty acids that make fish oil magic, and, fortunately, they've bottled the stuff. "If you don't like fish or don't get to eat it, fish-oil supplements are just as good," says Mary Ellen Camire, Ph.D., a professor of human nutrition at the University of Maine.

But don't just grab any guppy grease. Look for omega-3 supplements that haven't passed their expiration date and that list vitamin E as the second ingredient. (The antioxidant effect of E will keep the oil from turning rancid.)

Don't Wear Earplugs at Concerts?

It's even dorkier to stick your fingers in your ears. You're better off if you use your body's natural mute button: humming. "Humming causes a protective muscle in the ear called the strapedius to contract, reducing the amount of noise that travels to your inner ear by 15 to 20 decibels," says Marshall Chasin, an audiologist and director of auditory research at the Musicians' Clinic of Canada.

Chasin also points out that your ears are still vulnerable to damage for the first 16 to 18 hours after the sonic assault. "There's nothing wrong with going to a concert on a Friday night. Just put off mowing your lawn until Sunday."


More from Men's Health:

20 Little Changes For A Healthier Life

8 Ways to Stay Healthy Without Spending Money

6 Uncommon Cures For Everyday Ailments

7 Instant Health Checks to Save Your Life

Don't Do Crunches?

Do your regular weight-training routine—on your feet. "When you weight-train standing up, your abs have to work to stabilize the spine and keep you upright, giving you more bang for your buck," says Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., a personal trainer in Santa Clarita, California. So, if you normally do leg presses, do squats instead. Lying leg curls? Do Romanian deadlifts. Seated biceps curls? Stand and curl. Whatever the move, make sure the stabilizing muscle tension stays on your abs, not your lower back.

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