It’s that time of year again! The holidays have come and gone and while it was a wonderful few days spent with family and friends, most of us are left feeling off track and out of sorts. Whether it was one too many treats, an extra helping of your favorite side dish or lack of exercise, the upcoming new year offers everyone another opportunity to make healthier choices. If you’re like the majority of adults, you’ll choose to focus on “losing weight” or “staying fit/healthy” starting January 1. But if you are looking for a resolution to impact yourself and your loved ones, here are 10 health recommendations from the AMA to help you make the most impactful, long-lasting improvements in health.
AMA President David O. Barbe, MD, MHA states “this is the perfect time for each of us to think about our personal health goals and make healthy lifestyle choices in the coming year.” So when you are thinking of your resolution, keep in mind there are plenty of ways you can have a healthier 2018 while positively impacting the health of those around you — and as an added bonus, your friends and family will thank you!
10 Healthy New Year's Resolutions for You and Your Family
1. Avoid sugary drinks.
You would be amazed how beverage companies can sneak added sugar into their drinks. Using ingredients with names most people don’t even recognize are “sugar,” these sweeteners only add unnecessary calories to your diet. A 20 ounce sports drink can pack as many as 122 calories worth of added sugar, while a 12 ounce can of soda has 126 calories of added sugar. Opt for unsweetened tea, coffee or water instead. If you are looking for more flavor, try adding lemon, cucumbers, berries or fresh mint leaves to your water or tea.
2. Know your risk for type 2 diabetes.
One in three Americans has prediabetes, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, and roughly 30 percent of those will progress to diabetes within five years. However, type 2 diabetes is preventable. Regularly following a healthy diet and exercising can dramatically improve your health and decrease your risk of developing the disease. Make sure to take a self-screening test now to determine your risk and talk to your doctor to learn about different programs for preventing diabetes.
3. Be more active.
Every adult between the ages of 18 and 65 needs at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity five days per week. This includes activities such as brisk walking, bicycling, swimming or hiking. The alternative is to get at least 20 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity three days a week or a combination of both moderate and vigorous exercise. Examples of vigorous exercise include running, jumping rope or bicycling over 10 mph. Over time, regular physical activity can significantly improve your cardiovascular health.
4. Avoid processed food and added sodium.
Many of these foods come in the form of packaged products such as meat, poultry, seafood, pasta, dressings, sauces, soups or gravies. It’s always a good idea to read the nutrition labels to know exactly what ingredients it contains. Better yet, shop for fresh or frozen foods without any added sauces or seasonings you can prepare at home. Cooking your own meals allows you to control how much you want to add to it. To avoid using too much salt, try other herbs and spices for different flavor.
5. Know your blood pressure numbers.
Heart disease and stroke are among the leading causes of death in the United States (American Heart Association). A great preventative measure is to make sure you are getting your annual physical. If you have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor regarding a plan to get your blood pressure under control. For most people, diet and exercise is the key to lowering blood pressure, not medication.
6. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation.
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends one drink with alcohol per day for women and two drinks per day for men. It’s also important to keep in mind that not every drink equals “one drink,” depending on the alcohol content.
7. Talk with your doctor about tobacco use and quit.
There are plenty of cessation programs and aids approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the key is finding the right one for you. In addition to this, make your home and car smoke-free. This can help eliminate your exposure (and the exposure of loved ones) to secondhand smoke. Giving friends, family and colleagues who are smokers one less place to light up may also encourage them to take the necessary step of quitting.
8. Manage your stress.
One of the best ways to manage your stress and improve your mental health is a healthy diet and daily exercise. It’s also important to recognize the power of saying “No.” While it can be difficult to do this, taking better care of yourself will make you a better colleague, parent, spouse or friend in the long run.
9. Safely store and properly dispose of all your prescription medications.
If you are taking prescriptions, follow your physician’s instructions and safely store all your medications. Here are a few ways to do so:
Organize and keep careful track of prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Make sure all medications are labeled properly. Keep medicines in the original bottle or container they came in and never mix medications in the same bottle.
Keep medicines secure. Ensure all lids close tightly and make sure they are stored safely out of site and out of reach when guests or visitors are in your home.
If you have any unused medication, you should properly dispose of it. Use the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration search tool to locate nearby public drug-disposal locations.
10. Make sure your family is up-to-date on immunizations.
Work with your doctor to ensure you are all following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. It’s never too late to get your flu shot!
Physical health adds to you and your family’s overall well being. Take steps now to address this important dimension to your health. For more help with your New Year’s Resolutions, take a look at this article from one of our physician peer coaches.
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Source: “10 New Year's Resolutions for Your Health and Your Family's.” Edited by Kevin B. O'Reilly, AMA Wire, American Medical Association, 28 Dec. 2017, wire.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/10-new-year-s-resolutions-your-health-and-your-family-s