Photo: Greg Kessler

1. Don't Ignore Insomnia
Not getting enough rest can do more harm than you might think. Insomniacs are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as people who don't have trouble sleeping. Researchers believe that as a person's sleep deficit rises, so does her blood pressure, which over time can lead to inflammation of vascular walls. For sounder slumber, try pink noise (a blend of sound frequencies, like falling raindrops)—a small study found that it can lead to 23 percent more restful sleep.

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2. Speak Up at the Doctor's Office
Some physicians whip through appointments in the time it takes to get a car washed, but their need for speed isn't the only reason for quick visits. There's also a phenomenon known as white-coat silence, which refers to patients' tendency to clam up in the presence of a doctor. List all the questions you'd like to ask at your next appointment and make two copies: one for you and one for your doctor.

Photo: Nigel Cox

3. Get Your Coffee Fix
In recent years, a wealth of research has shown that java may be just what the doctor ordered. A 2013 study found that those who drank coffee daily had a 4 percent lower risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

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4. Know Your Heart
We often think of chest and arm pain as the telltale signs of a heart attack, but in reality, fewer than 30 percent of women report feeling any discomfort before an attack. And for the 95 percent of women who experienced at least one early warning sign, indigestion and anxiety ranked in the top five. Don't dismiss these symptoms if they persist longer than a week.

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5. Whittle Your Middle
A Duke University study found that people who did moderate cardio for 178 minutes per week (roughly 30 minutes of walking six days a week) gained hardly any visceral (belly) fat—the kind associated with diabetes and cancer—over the course of eight months. Participants who jogged saw even better results, reducing their belly fat by almost 7 percent.

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