No successful person strives to be second best.
That's because coming in second can suck: The trophy is less grand, the medal is less precious, and the attention is golf-applause polite, if that.
But we're here to tell you that in the competition against disease, the smart ones go for silver. Because when people try and fail to bring home the gold in health, they risk settling for dead last.
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Let's say you don't floss every day and never will. Instead of simply accepting your periodontal peril, you can do something for your gums that's almost as good.
Or maybe you can't be bothered to tally up the number of footsteps you take in a typical day. No problem: You can still enjoy the benefits in a way that doesn't require counting to 10,000.
It isn't just that the second-best strategies described on the following page are better than doing nothing (even though they are). They're so damn good for you that no matter what the champion is up to, you'll still be enjoying your place on the podium for years to come.
1. 10,000 Steps
If you can't take at least 10,000 steps every day...
Put down the pedometer and start the stopwatch. You can reap the same health benefits by counting minutes instead, says Catrine Tudor-Locke, Ph.D., chair of kinesiology at UMass Amherst.
Can you manage three 10-minute brisk walks a day? In a Norwegian study, older men who did precisely that six days a week cut their risk of dying of any cause during the study period by 40 percent.
If you won't apply sunscreen on your entire face...
At least cover the cancer magnets: Your nose, eyelids, and lips. Your schnoz is the most common place on your face for basal cell carcinoma, while 5 to 10 percent of all skin cancers occur on eyelids. And men are more likely than women to develop tumors on their smackers.
Swipe Badger Sport Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 35 ($10, badgerbalm.com) onto all three hot spots. Then slip on some UV-blocking shades.
3. Dental Floss
If you forget to floss on a daily basis...
You can either pick the detritus from your teeth or pick up a set of dentures. A dental pick removes food particles that swishing and spitting can't budge, says D.C. dentist Brian Gray, D.D.S.
Try Gum Soft-Picks; the rubber bristles stimulate your gums and spelunk for gunk, Dr. Gray says. Research shows that these interdental excavators are just as good as flossing at reducing plaque and preventing gingivitis.