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Find direction to disease prevention using a compass of habits

a chef in the kitchen with pots, pans and healthy vegetables

Find direction to disease prevention by using a compass of habits
December 10, 2021

While we know that health affects longevity and quality of life, it can be difficult to change bad habits. People often try to make sweeping New Year's resolutions, only to fail.

Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic preventive cardiologist, says a better approach is to focus on small steps that add up over time.

"The answer, I think, is to make small sustainable steps that you can live with," says Dr. Kopecky "And when I say small steps, like for diet, I tell patients one bite, one bite of something healthy. Take some processed meat or foods off your plate, and put on something like a legume or a bean. After a couple of years, that one-bite difference will lower your risk of having a heart attack."

In his new book, "Live Younger Longer: 6 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease, Cancer, Alzheimer's and More,"  Dr. Kopecky shares strategies for making changes, including thinking of a compass of habits:

  • N — Nutrition
  • E — Exercise
  • W — Weight
  • S — Sleep, stress, smoking and spirits (alcohol)

Making positive changes in these areas can help improve health and longevity.

"We cannot prevent aging.  We can slow aging," says Dr. Kopecky. "But we can prevent disease, it's certainly possible to do. And if you adopt a certain healthy lifestyle, you can affect that."

On the Mayo Clinic Q&A podcast, Dr. Kopecky discusses developing healthy habits one small step at a time.