New Year, New You: Four Tips for Good HealthBy: Robert Larke
Staying healthy is at the top of most people’s minds, especially in the new year. But saying and doing are two very different things. Being committed to a healthy lifestyle is about making good daily choices about what you eat, exercising, destressing and managing other risk factors.
I always encourage patients who want to begin a new workout regimen in the new year. However, big and sudden changes can often be difficult to sustain. So, alongside your New Year’s resolution, I recommend also including some simpler changes that can lead to improved health.
Eat healthy foods. Eating healthy foods is key to keeping your body in good shape. We all know it, but sometimes our schedules prevent us from making good choices. A quick trip to the drive-thru or a vending machine is convenient but not healthy. Plan meals ahead of time. Pack appropriate portion-sized healthy snacks and have them handy at work, in the car or wherever you frequent. At restaurants, eliminating extras like sour cream, butter, heavy dressings and fries makes eating out just a bit healthier.
Stay active. Exercise doesn’t have to be at the gym or involve an hour-long commitment to a treadmill. Talk a short walk at lunch or in the evening. Park a little farther from the door of the mall, grocery store or your office to get in a few extra steps. Take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. Get up from your desk or couch every 30 minutes just to make sure you’re moving.
Relax. Stress is a large contributor to health problems. When we get caught up with worries, our bodies react in negative ways. Blood pressure rises. Muscles tense. The digestive system is compromised. Fatigue sets in. All of these symptoms can then affect our ability and desire to eat right and stay active, creating an unhealthy cycle. Incorporate opportunities in your day for relaxation, whether it’s through a yoga class or simply doing something you enjoy.
Manage risk factors. No matter how healthy your lifestyle, you may still be at risk for certain diseases. Be proactive about your health. Learn your family medical history and get screened for conditions for which you have a higher risk. There are other conditions, especially certain cancers, that everyone should be screened for once they hit a certain age. Talk to your doctor at your annual checkup about how to manage your risk factors.