By <a href="" target="_external">Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV</a>

BOSTON (CBS) – Can New Year’s resolutions really make a difference in our health when it comes to reversing the consequences of some of our bad, long term habits?

Dr. Rick Donahue of Personal Health MD in the Back Bay said, “It’s amazing how well our body can restore itself.”

Even losing just a few extra pounds can help roll back the clock. “The single biggest quick benefit from losing 10-15 pounds is blood pressure goes down. It also has a huge benefit on reducing blood sugar.”

A small amount of exercise can restore the body’s vigor and your state of mind, according to Paul Gozbekian of Equinox, a health club in the Back Bay. “People are not saying they want six pack abs or want toned arms or anything like that, although that’s a benefit. They just want to feel better,” he added.

It’s working for Cindy Commander. She told us as she maintained a brisk clip on a treadmill that she now has more energy.

Kicking some habits, like reducing your intake of alcohol, can help your health more than you might think. When it comes to drinking, Dr. Donahue said, “There’s cognitive benefit, organ benefit, and blood pressure benefit. “

The liver can also bounce back if there is no permanent damage. “The alcohol actually builds up a fatty liver, and that fatty liver is reversible,” explained Dr. Donahue.

Smokers who can quit will see dramatic benefits, both instant and lasting. “If someone stops smoking, especially during the winter flu and bronchitis season, they can reduce their infections more than 50 percent,” said Dr. Donahue. “It takes about 3-6 years to reduce the risk of lung cancer almost back to a non-smoker’s level.”

The news isn’t as bright when it comes to reversing sun damage. “It starts to induce changes in the skin cells that can someday lead to skin cancer,” said Dr. Donahue. “We call that solar aging, and actually the lines of aging aren’t years of aging, but years of sun exposure.”

The best you can do is preventing further damage by faithfully applying sunscreen.

Robin Cerroni of Lynn faithfully works out at Equinox. She believes all her positive changes have been worth it. “It does make a difference. Carrying things at work, carrying big boxes. There is joke in my office if they have to move something, get her.”

And she’s happy she is able to do it.

CBS Boston: Paul Ebben
Dr. Rick Donahue, Personal Health MD Center
Centers For Disease Control: Smoking & Tobacco Cessation
Centers For Disease Control: Losing Weight
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