Small Steps, Big Changes: The Science Behind Preventing Disease & Living Longer - Episode 8

Did you know? The average American breaks their New Year's resolution on January 17th. Focusing on small steps can lead to sustainable changes. Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic preventive cardiologist, recommends focusing on the NEWSSSS approach: Nutrition, Exercise, Weight Management, Sleep, Stress, Smoking, and Spirits (alcohol). Here are a few highlights: 

  • Nutrition: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats found in olive oil and nuts. These foods provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients that can help the immune system and fight infections. Dr. Kopecky is a fan of the Mediterranean diet.
  • Exercise: Regular moderate exercise can boost the activity of virus-killing immune cells. 20 minutes per day is a good start. You can even break it up into short increments throughout the day. A walk here. Some leg lunges or squats there. Take the stairs. It all adds ups.
  • Sleep: Adequate sleep can increase the number of immune cells in the body and improve infection outcomes. "When your immune system response kicks in, it changes your sleep,” explains Dr. Kopecky. “You may find yourself sleeping longer, for example, as your immune system stages an attack against a virus. When you're not sleeping well, you may notice that you get sick more easily.
  • Stress: Calming activities and supportive relationships can help reduce stress, reduce cortisol production, and enhance the immune system's function. Arts & crafts, spending time in nature, meditation, and yoga are just a few stress relieving ideas.

By making small, sustainable changes in these areas, we can help improve our overall health and longevity. 


Gazelka, H. and Kopecky, S. (2022). Tips for living younger, longer by preventing disease Retrieved from