6. Knowledge does not lead to change—understanding does. If I tell you, "There were a million heart attacks last year"—unless you're one of those million, you don't care. But if I can show you a picture of an artery, and you can see the plaque rupturing—now the heart attack isn't abstract, it's a real story. And you're much more likely to take care of your own heart, because you don't want that same story to affect you.
7. Going to bed 30 minutes earlier will change your life. I spent years surviving long hospital rotations on little sleep, and I learned that if I don't get seven hours of shut-eye a night, I won't perform well the next day. Less than half of Americans over age 50 get enough sleep, but if you make it a priority, I guarantee that you'll have more energy, less stress, and (most important for a doctor) a clear head.
8. If you want a healthier community, fight for it. I used to ride my bike across the bridge from New Jersey to Manhattan every morning. I noticed that many bikers stopped riding during the winter, in part because you had to haul your bicycle up and down a flight of 50 stairs on each side of the bridge. So we petitioned for a new bike path that didn't involve stairs—and got it. We all have the power to improve the health of our community, whether it's getting better bike lanes, more sidewalks, or a farmers' market that sells fresh produce.
9. Better patients make better doctors. People are often hesitant to challenge their doctor, but a good patient is someone who raises her hand and says, "I don't understand this" or "This isn't working for me." Your physician will be able to take the knowledge she gains from your open, honest dialogue and pass it on to the next person she treats.
10. It's not about living longer—it's about living better. I once had a patient who was in danger of having a heart attack if he didn't change his habits. So he changed them. At his next checkup I congratulated him on adding years to his life, but he said, "That's not why I did it. I just wanted to feel better." The idea of living into your 80s or 90s is nice, but what really motivates people to make a change is having a healthy body today.
More Advice From Dr. Oz
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