8 new year health goals to keep you healthy for life
Jan. 1 is around the corner, and
for about half the people in the U.S., the new year is an opportunity to make resolutions
for a fresh start. The most popular resolution people make every year is to lose weight, but few reach the goals they
set out to achieve.
If you can relate, change your
perspective this year. Instead of setting a big, lofty weight-loss goal, set smaller,
more attainable health goals for the new year. Make
2024 your healthiest year ever by taking up some of these eight resolutions.
Instead of setting grandiose exercise goals, such as daily
one-hour workouts, aim to boost your activity a little bit. Add five minutes to
the time you walk the dog or spend an extra 10 minutes playing with your kids
outside. Even small amounts of increased daily activity can mean
meaningful changes for your heart health.
Overhauling your entire diet is
tough, but you can start by adding fruit to your morning cereal or salads to
your dinner plans. According to the USDA:
- Adult women need about 2 to 3 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.
- Men need about 3 to 4 cups of daily veggies.
- Kids need 1 to 4 cups per day, depending on their age and sex.
Upping your vegetable intake seven days a week is a
realistic goal for the whole family.
Social connection is crucial for
your mental health. It can be hard to nurture
friendships as we age, and our lives and jobs get busier. Still, it's important
to make time for the people you love. Don't put off scheduling lunch with your
bestie — make plans to spend time with each other now. If your friends live far
away, pick up the phone instead. Having a live conversation will give you a
boost in a way no text or social media post can.
Getting enough quality sleep improves
your physical and mental health. Too little sleep can increase your risk for
heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, anxiety, and depression. If you are
not hitting the recommended 7 to 9 hours, try adding just 30 minutes to your
nightly sleep schedule and see if it makes a difference in your alertness after
a few days. If you're having trouble falling or staying asleep, adjusting your sleep routine can help. Try:
- Getting up and going to sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends
- Limiting caffeine after noon and avoiding alcohol
- Putting screens away at least an hour before bed
- Sleeping in a cool room with comfortable bedding
If you've got vacation time — or
know you'll have it later in the year — now's the time to schedule it. Taking
time off is essential self-care, even if you can't afford to travel. Having
time blocked off on your calendar will give you something to look forward to
when you're feeling low.
Doing activities that bring you joy
has health benefits that can change your outlook and lower stress. If you
aren't sure what makes you happy, experiment with different activities until
you find something you love, such as:
- Building toy sets, such as Legos or model trains
- Learning a new sport, such as pickleball or softball
- Playing board games with friends
- Roller skating or skateboarding
- Taking an art or dance class
- Taking up ultimate frisbee or disc golf
You don't have to be good at a
hobby or invest a lot of money into an activity to simply have fun. Find things
you enjoy and do them.
It's easy to say, "This is the
year I quit smoking/drinking/binge eating," but unhealthy habits and addictions
can be hard to break. Instead of forcing yourself to stop cold turkey, try
being honest with yourself about your bad habits and long-term goals. Make a list
of pros and cons about the habit you want to change and honestly assess the
pleasure you get from the habit compared to the drawbacks. It might be, deep
down, you just don't want to change, which is OK. But if you have a long list
of negatives, few positives, and you've tried to quit your habit repeatedly
without success, it might be time to ask for help from professionals. Tobacco cessation classes, 12-step programs,
and outpatient treatment could be just what you
need to achieve your goal for the new year and years to come.
If you have insurance, it's required to cover an annual wellness visit and age-appropriate cancer screenings. This includes Pap (beginning at age 21) or HPV tests (as an option, beginning at 30) for women, mammograms for women age 40 and older, and colonoscopies for everyone age 45 and up. If you have a history of smoking, ask your provider if you need a low-dose CT lung cancer screening. Schedule your appointments with your Reid Health providers now and give yourself the gift of prevention.
Reid Health primary care
providers are here to help you with your health goals. Find a location near you.