The start of a new year is often the time for people to begin thinking about ways to improve their lives. A new year is a fresh start and provides the psychological boost needed to set and meet your goals. Why not start with your health? Many people would benefit by making a few changes to improve their fitness level, diet, weight or general well-being. Even one or two small changes can make a difference in a person’s health. Below are 10 healthy resolutions for the new year.
Health screenings can save lives. Early detection for diseases, such as colon, breast and cervical cancer can improve prognosis dramatically. Screenings to test for diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease should also all be considered. The type of screening needed is based on your age, gender and risk factors for certain conditions. Talk with your doctor to determine what is recommended and make this the year to get screened.
Most people know that exercise can improve your health, but they may not know just how beneficial it can be. Exercise can help lower blood pressure and raise levels of good cholesterol in the body. It can also improve circulation and cut the risk of medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends about 150 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every week. To increase your chances of sticking with this resolution, participate in exercises you enjoy, set short-term goals and rewards, and exercise with a buddy or group of friends.
Eating foods high in trans fats, such as crackers, fried foods and some baked goods can increase bad cholesterol and decrease good cholesterol in the body. Through a process called hydrogenation, hydrogen is added to vegetable oil, which creates trans fats. This is added to foods as a preservative. Decrease trans fats in your diet by reading food labels and limiting foods which have partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is another term for trans fats.
With work responsibilities, chores and the busyness of everyday life, time for family and friends may sometimes suffer. Spending time with friends and family helps people feel a sense of belonging. The need for human connection may be something more important than most people realize. According to the Mayo Clinic, developing and maintaining friendships can help you avoid bad habits, such as excessive alcohol use, increase happiness and decrease stress. Make spending time with people you care about a priority.
Most people get stressed periodically; some more than others. Chronic stress can contribute to conditions, such as depression, cardiac problems and high blood pressure. Develop ways to reduce stress, such as doing breathing exercises and practicing yoga. Exercise, acupressure and meditation, may also help some people relax and de-stress.
Did you ever notice how you feel after a good laugh? Laughter helps reduce stress, decrease anxiety and can help us cope with difficult times. A study done by doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMM) concluded that having a sense of humor and laughing frequently may even prevent heart attacks, so add more humor to your life. Watch funny movies and television shows. Spend time with people who make you laugh. It’s also helpful to find the humor in a situation and learn to laugh at yourself.
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your health. It is the main cause of COPD, which is a progressive and chronic lung condition. Smoking is a risk factor for hypertension, lung cancer and heart disease. Breaking the habit, may not be easy, but help is available. Smoking cessation classes are offered through community centers and hospitals. Medication and hypnotism may also work for some people.
Most people lose a little sleep once in a while, but chronic sleep deprivation can lead to problems, such as irritability, trouble concentrating and memory problems. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, sleep deprivation may also contribute to weight gain and cardiovascular disease. According to The University of Maryland most adults need between five and nine hours of sleep a night. To improve how much sleep you get, develop good habits, such as getting to sleep at the same time each night, limiting caffeinated beverages and develop the same bedtime routine.
Although it may be impossible to protect yourself from all types of illnesses and injuries, there are some simple things you can do to keep yourself safe. Wearing a seat belt when driving or riding in a car is simple and can prevent serious injuries. The same goes for wearing a bicycle helmet while cycling. Other things you can do to protect yourself include wearing sunscreen and installing a smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your home.
Fiber rich foods, such as oatmeal, leafy green vegetables and beans help you feel full longer, decreases the risk of colon cancer and helps keep things moving through the digestive system. Increasing calcium in your diet can help prevent osteoporosis. Good sources of calcium include yogurt, milk, bok choy, broccoli and baked beans.
A new year is a great time to make a commitment to healthy living. Although making a resolution is easy to do, it is sometimes hard to stick with. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, in order to stay on track, resolutions need to be realistic. Share your resolutions with someone close to you who can offer encouragement when needed. Small, attainable goals should be set, which help motivate you to stick with your resolution throughout the year.