New Year’s Resolutions are very predictable. While most are health oriented, I purport that a healthy mind, body and spirit requires a healthy lifestyle. Interestingly, the ten most popular resolutions listed below, all have an impact on a healthy life. Moreover, after living with the COVID-19 virus in 2020, perspectives and priorities may have changed for all of us and forever. As such, before any other health tip can be followed, the number one, two and three health tips for 2021 are:
Polls repeatedly show that one of the most consistent resolutions for the New Year is to make more time to spend with family and friends. Moreover, research shows that the comfort and camaraderie of these people whom we love is important to our health and well-being. However, until we are all vaccinated we must do so with great care and precaution; Zoom, FaceTime, phone calls, drive-by visits, outdoor visits or activities, etc. Be Creative and be careful!
The benefits of regular exercise is no longer anecdotal, it is factual. Daily exercise, even in small doses, has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies clearly demonstrate that it reduces cholesterol and coronary artery disease and the risk of some cancers. Also, it increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better. If done properly, there is no down side. So, make this year the year to do it! While a gym may not be the best option for those at risk, buy indoor home equipment or dress appropriately and use Mother Nature for healthy and inspirational walks.
Recent studies report that more than 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese. As a result, weight loss is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. However, adhering to a weight loss program is not easy. It requires many things, including, setting reasonable goals and staying focused. Often, professional help is required. While this may be one of the most difficult goals to attain, the ultimate reward and value is well worth the effort.
Second only to losing weight, this resolution, while extremely difficult, is another life-saving goal that must be attempted. Studies report that smokers try and fail four times on average before they are successful. SO, KEEP TRYING! Get help. Talk to your physician about using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine replacement therapy and proven quit-smoking aids. Consider smoking cessation classes, support groups and hotlines in addition to the meds. This is one goal that is worth the effort.
Due in great part to our hectic and stressful work and family demands, long before COVID-19, the United States is home to millions of people requiring the use of mood elevators and antidepressants. As a result, it is important to learn what really makes you happy in order to FIND YOUR SMILE. It requires the balance of a healthy mind, body and spirit. It might be a walk in the snow, taking virtual dance, exercise or enrichment class. One hint, smiles are often found in something simple and inexpensive. And, be sure to associate with upbeat, fun-loving and genuine people when possible.
This is one tip for a healthier New Year that I expect to receive plenty of flack about! This is especially true now because more alcohol is being consumed with the stress of COVID-19. But, I would be remiss if I did not mention this potentially harmful habit…excessive drinking. While many people use the New Year as an incentive to finally stop drinking, most are unable to adhere to such a rigid goal. Studies show that moderate drinking can offer many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and coronary artery disease but that is defined as one or two 8 ounce drinks per day and red wine is preferred. However, many heavy drinkers would do well to taper off to a moderate level. For those with a problem and have decided to stop drinking altogether, there are plenty of help and support available such as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also a number of treatment-based programs, as well as support groups for families of alcoholics.
This is one tip that few consider being health related. However, serious stress from financial problems affects millions of Americans every day. This cumulative stress can be very harmful to your health and can be lessened by initiating a plan. Get professional help and learn how to downsize and reevaluate your real needs. Less toys (adult and child) with less stress for a longer life! For those suffering from economic hardship due to COVID-19, contact social services and government agencies to determine if assistance is available to you and your family.
There may be no one thing more important to gaining a new perspective on life that to have learned something new. It could be as drastic as returning to school to prepare for a career change or as simple as learning to play bridge. Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new? Take a virtual course at local college or read a new book. Take a tour of some of the world’s greatest museums. Listen to a TED talk. It will enrich your life and make you a more interesting person. Most local colleges and universities offer virtual and adult education programs
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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.