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Health & Spirit

How to make a healthy habit stick

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

In the 2006 movie "Stranger than Fiction," Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) discovers that he's the protagonist in a novel -- and that the voice he's been hearing in his head is the author's narration of his life. "Every weekday for 12 years, Harold would brush each of his 32 teeth 76 times; 38 times back and forth, 38 times up and down. Every weekday for 12 years, Harold would tie his tie in a single Windsor knot instead of the double, thereby saving up to 43 seconds."

While Harold's habits sound extreme, adding a new healthy habit to your morning routine is a good idea. That's the time to make a new habit, well, habitual. Researchers think that's because your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that makes learning more difficult, is highest in the morning, and focusing on learning something when it's a challenge may mean that the info is more solidly encoded in your memory.

In a study published in Health Psychology, researchers instructed 48 people to adopt a new stretching routine. Half were told to do it after waking up, the other half before going to sleep. An app tracked whether they'd done the stretch and how automatic it became. While both groups made progress, the daily routine became a habit much more quickly for the morning group.

So if you're looking to adopt a healthy habit (say, meditation or yoga), start doing it first thing in the morning. Before you know it, you might find that it's second nature.

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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
 

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