The New Year is the perfect time to hit the reset button on your health and wellness. Not sure where to start? Doctors say you can make the biggest impact with small, incremental tweaks to your routine.
“It is quite common after the holidays to think about all you’ve eaten or your reduced physical activity and get discouraged,” says Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH, president of the American Medical Association (AMA). “But the good news is you don’t have to make major health changes in one fell swoop. You can make small, positive health choices right now that can have long-lasting effects.”
Want to get started today? Here are the 10 resolutions the AMA recommends top your list this year:
- Get moving. Exercise is essential for your physical and mental health. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity. Just can’t get to the gym? No problem: start off by going for a family walk, taking the stairs at work or parking a little farther away from the mall entrance when you’re making those post-holiday gift returns.
- Tweak your diet to include more water and less sugar-sweetened beverages. Replace processed foods — especially those with added sodium and sugar — with nutritious, whole foods. Stock your fridge and pantry with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats and poultry.
- A number of respiratory viruses circulating this winter can be serious and even life-threatening. Get up to date on your vaccines to protect yourself and your family. These include the annual flu shot and the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Vaccines are also available to protect older adults from severe RSV. New tools to protect infants during RSV season include maternal vaccination and monoclonal antibody immunization. If you have questions, speak with your physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org.
- Get screened. Estimates based on statistical models show that since April 2020, millions of screenings for breast, colorectal and prostate cancer may have been missed due to pandemic-related care disruptions. Check in with your physician. If you’re due for preventive care, tests or screenings, make an appointment. These measures are designed to keep you healthy and help your doctor spot certain conditions before they become more serious.
- High blood pressure, often referred to as hypertension, can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, and it affects millions of Americans. Visit ManageYourBP.org to understand what your blood pressure numbers mean and what you can do to get your blood pressure under control.
- One in 3 American adults has prediabetes, a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes if left unmanaged. However, healthy eating and exercise can help delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Learn your risk by taking a simple 2-minute self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. This resource also features helpful lifestyle tips that can help you reverse prediabetes.
- If consuming alcohol, drink only in moderation. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines that as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
- Your health care provider can offer resources and guidance for quitting tobacco and nicotine. Declare your home and car smoke-free to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.
- Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking prescription drugs – especially opioids. Always store and dispose of medications safely to prevent misuse. Whenever prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. Not taking the full course can lead to antibiotic resistance, a serious public health problem, and will not make you feel better if you have a virus, such as a cold or flu.
- Good mental health is part of good overall health. Manage your stress, get sufficient sleep, exercise and seek help from a mental health professional when you need it.
If you don’t have health insurance, the AMA encourages you to sign up for coverage because those with coverage live healthier and longer. Healthcare.gov has new, affordable insurance options. The enrollment deadline for 2024 coverage is Jan. 15, 2024. Find more health resources at ama-assn.org.
For a healthy 2024 and beyond, invest in your wellness with these doctor-recommended New Year’s resolutions.
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