1. Can you hear me now? Plug your ears before you blow out your eardrums
Rocking out at home is one thing, but Spice Girls reunion concerts, lawn mowers, or fireworks can damage your hearing permanently. Properly fitting earplugs can provide a marked reduction in the amount of sound energy you're exposed to. Try Mack's silicone earplugs ($5 for six pairs, earplugstore.com) or have an audiologist custom-make a pair for you. Cranking up the volume to 11 on your headphones can cause damage too, so listen at a reasonable decibel level. Don't make us repeat ourselves.
2. Discover a workout you dig
You know, the one you look forward to not because you can time it with The Bachelor, but because it's actually fun. University of Michigan research shows that women who exercise because it makes them feel happier or more energized are more likely to keep it up than women who work out just to look better.
3. Don't apply mascara in the car
One of the most common eye injuries: corneal abrasions caused by mascara wands. Youch!
4.You snooze, you win!
Studies show that power naps can help you kill stress and recharge; just don't doze for more than a half hour. After 30 minutes, your body enters the deep stages of sleep, and studies show that if you wake up right before deep sleep, you'll feel more refreshed.
5. Score now, reap later: Sunglasses
Swap your H&M aviators for grown-up shades that block UVA and UVB rays, both of which up your risk of eye damage, including cataracts. We like Ryders Eyewear Duchess Polarized sunglasses ($70, ryderseyewear.com), which offer 100 percent UV protection.
6. STOP...drinking your calories.
Between 1995 and 2002, the number of calories Americans swigged each day more than doubledÃ¢â‚¬”and those from sugary quenchers like soda, fruit drinks, and alcohol quadrupled. That's a whole lot of Jamba Juice, people.
7. STOP...asking your doc for an antibiotic every time you sniffle.
Overusing antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant bacteria, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call one of the world's biggest health challenges. The drugs also kill your body's good bacteria (like those that protect against yeasty beasties) along with the bad.
8. Score now, reap later: cast iron skillet
Get this: The metal seeps out of the pan and into your food, increasing its iron content many times over.
9. Step into better-fitting sneaks
The right shoe and fit can help correct for anatomical flaws like flat arches or overpronation and fend off overuse injuries. You'll get the best service from a store that specializes in running, such as FleetFeet (fleetfeetsports.com).
10. Don't Leave Home Without: Health insurance card
Get insured now, before a problem shows up that will be considered pre-existing if you shop for coverage later. Learn more about your options online from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (finder.healthcare.gov) or the Foundation for Health Coverage Education).
11. Don't Leave Home Without: Personal medical record
After tumbling head-first over your niece's Big Wheel, the list of prescription drugs you're taking won't exactly roll off your tongueÃ¢â‚¬”especially if you're, um, unconscious. Line your wallet with a list of your meds (including supplements), allergies or drug sensitivities, the name and number of your primary-care doctor, conditions you're being treated for, and a brief family history of major medical problems.
12. Don't just think you can do itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ now you can!
You'll increase your self-esteem if your "can do" attitude is based on real skills. Learn how to unclog the toilet, file your taxes, or hang those Ikea shelves. One great DIY book: Dare to Repair: A Do-It-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home, by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas Tenet ($13, amazon.com).
What is this, 1972? Despite what shar-pei-faced Aunt Doris says, a "base tan" won't protect against anything. Better to go faux: We like Neutrogena MicroMist Tanning Sunless Spray ($12 for 5.3 oz, drugstore.com).
14. Score now, reap later: Condoms
A recent report shows that rates of gonorrhea (which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease) and chlamydia (which can damage fertility) are upÃ¢â‚¬”and that means use of protection is sorely down.
15. STOPÃ¢â‚¬Â¦stepping out in four-inch stilettos.
Stripper heels strain the joints from your toes all the way up to your lower back and can lead to nasty deformities like bunions and hammertoes. Stick with a height of two inches or less.
16. Score now, reap later: A sports helmet
Whether you board or bike, look for a melon protector that conforms to the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials. A good helmet will fit snugly (no wobbling when you push it side to side) and sit level on your head (not tilted back) with the front edge no more than an inch above your eyebrows.
17. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t Be a Dummy, Buckle Up
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in people ages 2 through 34. It's estimated that from 1975 to 2006, seat belts saved 226,567 lives, yet according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 18 percent of people don't wear one.
18. STOPÃ¢â‚¬Â¦with the fad, cleansing, and detox diets.
Beyond wreaking havoc on your metabolism, they make your hair do really bad things. That's because your mane is one of the body's fastest-growing tissues, but since it's also nonessential (unlike, say, brain cells), your locks are the first to go if your body lacks nutrients. And once your body is done shedding its more expendable parts, it's not long before the rest of you is in deep doo, too.
19. Honey, You Need a Better Bra
Straps that are too thin or too tight can put pressure on the trapezius muscle (which spans your shoulders, neck, and upper back), causing pain in your upper body and even tension headaches. Quit squeezing your girls into an ill-fitting Maidenform today and save on Advil tomorrow. RELATED: How to measure your bra size correctly
20. Get your hot little hands onÃ¢â‚¬Â¦A good birth control method
Been taking the Pill or using condoms since college out of habit? Your BC may no longer be right for you. If you've started bumming cigarettes during happy hour, for example, you shouldn't pop OCs, which can increase the risk of blood clots, hypertension, and heart disease. Talk to your gyn every year about whether your current contraceptive is still your best.
21. STOPÃ¢â‚¬Â¦sporting talons instead of nails.
The No. 1 place germs live on your body is beneath your fingernails. If you can't trim the habit, dig your claws into a bar of semi-soft soap twice a day.
22. Score now, reap later: A showerhead filter
Screw one on to block chlorine, which can kill helpful bacteria on your skin, zap moisture, and worsen conditions like eczema and psoriasis. A filter can even deep-six chemicals that lead to dull hair and split ends. Check out showerfilterstore.com for products.
23. Zip. It. Uuuhhp.
Your old prom dress. Try it on: If the zipper on that Versace knockoff you nabbed at the mall won't budge past your ribs, you could be at an increased risk for breast cancer. A recent American Cancer Society study found that women who had gained 21 to 30 pounds after age 18 were 40 percent more likely to develop the disease than those who didn't put on more than five pounds. Women who had gained 70 pounds doubled their risk.
24. Stick junior in a babybjorn
When you use your hip as a baby hanger, structures in your back are compressed and joints, muscles, and discs become strained. Instead, distribute the little tyke's weight evenly across your spine by holding him in front, close to your bodyÃ¢â‚¬”or try strapping him into a sling.
25. Get your hot little hands onÃ¢â‚¬Â¦A good 'tude
People whose tumbler is always half full tend to live longer and have fewer life-threatening diseases. Debbie Downers also get sick and visit the doctor's office more frequently than their optimistic counterparts. Womp-wompÃ¢â‚¬Â¦