(StatePoint) The New Year is the perfect time to hit the reset button on your health and well-being. Don’t know where to start? According to doctors, the greatest effect can be achieved by making small, gradual changes to your daily routine.
“After the holidays, it’s quite common to think about how much you’ve eaten or your lack of physical activity and become depressed,” says Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, president of the American Medical Association (AMA). “But the good news is that you don’t have to make big health changes right away. “You can make small, positive health decisions now that can have long-term consequences.”
Want to get started today? Here are 10 resolutions the AMA recommends top your list this year:
1. Move. Exercise is essential for your physical and mental health. The American Heart Association recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity. Just can’t go to the gym? No problem: start with a family walk, take the stairs at work, or park a little further from the mall entrance when returning gifts after the holidays.
2. Change your diet to include more water and fewer sweetened drinks. Replace processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar, with nutritious whole foods. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and poultry.
3. Some respiratory viruses circulating this winter can be serious and even life-threatening. Stay up to date on your vaccines to protect yourself and your family. These include an annual flu vaccine and an updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. Vaccines are also available to protect older adults from severe RSV. New measures to protect infants during the RSV season include maternal vaccination and monoclonal antibody immunization. If you have questions, talk to your doctor and check trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org.
4. Get tested. Estimates based on statistical models indicate that since April 2020, millions of breast, colorectal and prostate cancer screenings may have been missed due to pandemic-related health care disruptions. Consult your doctor. If you are considering preventative treatment, screening, or testing, please make an appointment. These measures are designed to keep you healthy and to help your doctor detect certain conditions before they become more serious.
5. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke and affects millions of Americans. Visit ManageYourBP.org to understand what your blood pressure numbers mean and what you can do to control it.
6. One in three American adults has prediabetes, a condition that, if left uncontrolled, can lead to type 2 diabetes. However, eating a healthy diet and exercising can help delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Find out your risk by taking a simple two-minute self-assessment test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. This resource also provides helpful lifestyle tips to help reverse prediabetes.
7. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. The US Dietary Guidelines for Americans define this as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only for adults of legal drinking age.
8. Your healthcare provider can offer you resources and advice on quitting tobacco and nicotine. Declare your home and car smoke-free to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
9. Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking prescription medications, especially opioids. Always store and discard medications safely to prevent misuse. If you are prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. Not completing the full course can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance, which is a serious public health problem, and will not make you feel better if you have a virus such as a cold or flu.
10. Good mental health is part of good overall health. Manage your stress, get enough sleep, exercise, and seek help from a mental health professional when you need it.
If you don’t have health insurance, the AMA recommends that you sign up for coverage because those with insurance live healthier and longer. Healthcare.gov offers new affordable insurance options. The deadline to sign up for coverage in 2024 is January 15, 2024. Additional health resources can be found at ama-assn.org.
To stay healthy in 2024 and beyond, invest in your well-being with these doctor-recommended New Year’s resolutions.