Physicians are great at doling out health-related wisdom — after all, it’s their job. But doctors who follow healthy habits themselves may be better at advising patients to make positive changes like losing weight or exercising, according to a 2010 study in the journal Preventive Cardiology. In other words, docs who walk the walk may give their patients more useful, inspiring advice when they talk the talk.

So we asked top experts which health tricks they personally swear by — and gleaned great info to boost your mood, steam up your sex life, prevent cancer, stave off heart attacks, and more.

The Dermatologist Says: Check for Moles

“I check my skin for moles on the first of every month.”

Elizabeth Tanzi, MD, clinical instructor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Do a full self-skin exam monthly and report any changes to your doctor right away. Although one American dies of melanoma every hour, it’s almost 100 percent curable when detected early.”

The Psychologist Says: Think Positive Thoughts

“I think of three good things that I’m grateful for every day.”

Marian Stuart, PhD, author of The Fifteen Minute Hour: Therapeutic Talk in Primary Care

There are all kinds of stress management techniques that work wonders — eat healthy, remember to breathe, get enough sleep, exercise. But for me, it makes a difference to think of three good things that happen to me each day. Focusing on small, happy things helps cultivate positive thoughts, which release stress-lowering chemicals, such as dopamine, into your brain.

The ER Doctor Says: Buckle Up

“I always wear a three-point seatbelt in the car, even when I’m only changing parking spaces.”

Richard O’Brien, MD, spokesperson for American College of Emergency Physicians

Even when you just pull out of a parking space, it’s possible to lose control and hit a pole or collide with unexpected traffic. Airbags don’t inflate when you’re hit from behind, so you can be thrown into the steering wheel or windshield. And you’re better off strapped into your seat in a rollover — SUVs can roll over while going as slowly as 35 miles an hour during the winter. Seatbelts save lives and can prevent serious injuries.

The Ob-Gyn Says: Get Busy!

“I have plenty of sex — at least three to four times a week.”

Andrew Scheinfeld, MD, clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City

The benefits of sex are similar to those of eating well and working out frequently. A fulfilling sex life can bolster your immune system, improve blood flow, help with sleep problems, and even decrease migraine headaches. A noted study found that we should all have 200 orgasms a year in order to reap the best health benefits. That’s about three to four times a week.

The Neurologist Says: Keep Tabs on Your Meds

“I keep a current list of all my medications, supplements, over-the-counter drugs and allergies on a laminated index card.”

Orly Avitzur, MD, MBA, editor-in-chief of the American Academy of Neurology Web site,

It's important to have an accurate list in the event of an emergency so hospital staff can help treat you optimally. A written list helps doctors take care of you better and reduces errors.

The Radiologist Says: Know Your Breast Density

“I get regular mammograms and ask about my breast density.”

Stacey Vitiello, MD, breast imaging radiologist at Regional Radiology in Staten Island, N.Y.

Annual mammograms starting at age 40, or earlier, if you have a personal or family history, are important. But dense breast tissue is another risk factor for breast cancer (some studies indicate as much as a five-fold increase in risk), so always ask about your breast density after your mammogram.

The Chiropractor Says: Eat Breakfast

“I eat breakfast every morning, specifically, eggs with baked vegetables.”

William Barrett, MD, chief clinical officer of ChiroCare in Shoreview, Minn.

Research shows that breakfast eaters have an easier time losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.

The Cardiologist Says: Exercise Daily

“I exercise every day, even on vacation.”

Larry Santora, MD, interventional and preventive cardiology medical director at the Heart and Vascular Wellness Center at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, Calif.

Exercise relaxes the arteries; lowers levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisone; reduces blood sugar; raises good HDL cholesterol; helps prevent abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and strokes; lowers risk of obesity and related cancers; improves bone density; and boosts testosterone levels in men.

The Dentist Says: Floss Before Bed

“I always floss once a day, at night."

Byron Wall, DDS, a cosmetic dentist and past president of the Albuquerque District Dental Society

Saliva flow slows at night while you sleep, which increases the risk of gum and tooth decay. That’s why it’s especially important to floss — and then brush — before bed, after you've finished eating for the day.
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