Top 10 New Year’s Health Resolutions and Why You Should Start Today

Start making both little and big changes today and you can toast the New Year

Although the approaching New Year is a time nay of us aspire to turn over a new leaf and adopt healthier habits or forgo those things we do that we know are unhealthy, there is no reason to wait for the ringing in of the New Year. Start making both little and big changes today and you can toast the New Year knowing you are already well on your way to better health.

1. Quit Smoking

According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoking has been identified as the most important source of preventable disease and illness and premature death worldwide. Don’t be discouraged if you have tried to quit before, quitting smoking often requires multiple attempts. And don’t be afraid of getting some help. Medication, smoking cessation products, nicotine replacement therapies and even counseling increase the chances of successful quitting. Click here to see the immediate benefits and what to expect when you quit smoking, day by day.

2. Drink in Moderation

We all know there are health ramifications to excessive alcohol consumption, but perhaps you didn’t know how profoundly too much alcohol could affect your health. Some of the health effects of alcohol include increased risk of: Arthritis Cancer (liver, pancreas, rectum, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus) Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Heart Disease Elevated blood pressure Stroke risk Hyperglycemia Kidney Disease & elevated risk of kidney failure Liver Disease like fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis & cirrhosis Causes neuropathy and dementia; impairs balance and memory Contributing factor in obesity Okay, so we know overdoing it can have serious health consequences, but how much is too much? Moderate use of alcohol can be an enjoyable, safe experience if used with caution. For healthy people, one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men would be considered the maximum amount of alcohol consumption to fall under moderate use. If you choose to drink, drink slowly and with food. Consume no more than one drink per hour, and drink plenty of water along with the cocktails. Of course it probably goes without saying but never drink while pregnant or drive when intoxicated.

3. Wear Your SPF, Sunnies & Your Hat

According to the Cancer Council Australia, Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. Australia and New Zealand lead the world in mortality rates of, according to Australia's Department of Health and Aging. So how can you work to avoid becoming part of that looming statistic? According to the Cancer Council Australia, for the most effective protection, they recommend a combination of sun protection measures:
  • Wear sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  • Wear broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen & be sure to reapply every 2
  • Wear a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears
  • Slide on some sunglasses
  • Ideally, seek shade between 10am- 3pm when UV levels are at their peak

4. Drink More Water

Not only does your body require water to operate effectively and maintain the balance of your bodily fluids, but staying hydrated and drinking more water is beneficial for many other reasons. Drinking water can help you achieve weight reduction goals and it is great for your skin. Water also helps your kidneys rid your body of waste products and provides the necessary fluid to keep your bowels regular. So, how can you make sure you are getting enough water each day? Have a beverage with each meal each snack Experiment with low calorie additions like a splash of fruit juice, lemon or sparkling water Keep a bottle of water with you in your car, at your desk, or in your bag

5. Get Up & Get Moving

Sure in a perfect world, you might hit the gym 4 times a week and do a mix of cardio and strength training but any activity helps. So if regular physical activity is not part of your daily routine, aim for twenty minutes a day of whatever you like doing. Go for a brisk walk, do some jumping jacks, hit the gym or do a few crunches during the commercials. If you make it a habit every single day, even just twenty minutes, it will become a habit. If you are feeling really ambitious, try some longer commitment physical activities that are fun too like a dance class, an adult volley or football league or a local charity race.

6. Lose 5 Pounds

Sure many of us are carrying around a lot more than five extra pounds but start small. If you focus on losing fifty pounds, the goal is so large and so far into the future that staying motivated is going to be an uphill battle. Even five pounds off your frame will make it easier to exercise, take pressure off of your joints and get you on the right track. Shedding just five pounds can improve your confidence and give you some positive reinforcement to work on the next five pounds.

7. Do a Puzzle

Working your brain daily can stave off or delay age related cognitive decline. The adage “if you don’t use it you lose it” is right on when it comes to brain health. Recent neuroscience suggests that we switch up the way we do things, travel, and expose ourselves to new things in order to keep the brain running optimally.

8. Get Groped & Poked As Needed

Regular preventative medicine is an important part of staying healthy and catching disease early. Sure no one likes their boobies squished, their prostate examined or their colon probed but consider the alternative. A regular thorough physical examination and following medical guidelines for cancer screenings is an act of self-care. Check with your doctor or health care professional but mammograms are generally suggested at age forty for women with no family history of breast cancer and routine screening for prostate cancer and colon cancer is generally recommended at age fifty for both men and women who are otherwise experiencing no health issues and have no added risk factor.

9. Get the White Out of Your Diet & Get the Colour In

You should always aim to eat a ‘plant strong’ diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. The compounds that colour produce have been shown to have innumerable health benefits so eat a rainbow of the good stuff. Think red raspberries, orange peppers, yellow bananas, green leafy vegetables, blueberries, purple cabbage and more. Limit your consumption of the refined white foods like sugar, refined white flour and products that contain it like baked goods, crackers and pasta. Most of these foods are calorie rich and nutrient poor making it hard to maintain a healthy weight and meet your nutrition needs if these foods are a big part of your diet.

10. Stamp Out Stress

Easier said than done right? But finding even small ways to manage your stress levels can have a big impact on your health and well being. Stress can have some seriously negative impacts on your health including:
  • Heart disease
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Headaches and more
So do some things that feel good and help you relax. Try something new like a yoga class or meditate. And if you are experiencing depression, chronic anxiety or emotional issues that are really difficult to handle like the death of a close family member, a divorce or job loss, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Counseling can be a productive way to work through life’s difficulties and minimise and manage stress.

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