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10 Simple Resolutions for a Healthier Body and Mind

Published on Dec. 28, 2018

It’s that time again — a new year, a fresh start! Resolutions to exercise more and lose weight are popular. These are big goals, and sometimes it’s tough to stay on top of them when you’re busy. If you have the determination to achieve them, that’s great! However, if taking smaller steps to improve your health and well-being is more your style, these simple lifestyle changes can help you move in a positive direction.

  1. Eat more fruits and vegetables. You’ve probably heard this a lot, but how much is the right amount? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) “MyPlate,” which replaced the food pyramid, recommends making half your plate fruits and veggies. Visit ChooseMyPlate to view the daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables for your age, plus the valuable nutrients and health benefits fruits and vegetables provide.
  2. Drink more water. Do you drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day? You may not think about drinking water during the cooler months of the year, but your body depends on water to survive. Water helps your cells and organs function properly, regulates body temperature and moves food through your intestines. Try replacing an extra cup of coffee or a can of soda with a glass of refreshing water instead. Keep a reusable water bottle with you as a reminder.
  3. Take breaks from sitting. Spending hours each day at a desk or behind the wheel doesn’t do your waistline or heart any favors. Over time, it can contribute to weight gain and heart disease. Stand up, stretch and walk around ­— often. Park farther away, take the stairs, refill your water bottle, sit on a stability ball, talk to co-workers instead of emailing them, use a bathroom on another floor ­— whatever it takes to help you move more.
  4. Cut back on sodium. The average American gets 3,400 mg of sodium or salt a day, but 1,500 mg or less is recommended. Too much sodium can lead to fluid retention and increases pressure on your heart and kidneys. Limit your sodium intake by using less table salt and reading food labels, as sodium lurks in many processed foods. Talk to your doctor about how much sodium is appropriate for you.
  5. Make time to listen to music and laugh.  A recent study showed that one-hour music and laughter sessions lead to a drop in blood pressure (readings were taken before and after the sessions). Cortisol levels (markers for stress) also decreased. Lift your mood and help your heart by listening to music during your commute, going to a concert, watching funny videos, or taking in a comedy show or movie.
  6. Floss your teeth every day. Flossing helps reduce plaque buildup and keeps your gums healthy, which can help you avoid painful and expensive dental procedures. Not only can healthy gums keep your teeth in good shape, they can benefit your whole body. Flossing regularly may help reduce your risk of pneumonia and diabetes complications.
  7. Grow a garden. Big or small, vegetables or flowers, gardening can be a rewarding activity. It can help you spend time outdoors and appreciate nature, enjoy nurturing something and seeing it grow, be physically active if you need to water and weed the garden, and provide nutrition if you grow fruits and vegetables. The National Gardening Association can provide inspiration to get started!
  8. Wear a helmet. Don’t take chances when you bike, skate, ride a motorcycle or participate in any other activity that could spell disaster for your head (or life) if you’re injured. Make sure everyone in your family protects their skull and brain with a helmet. Set a good example for your children by wearing a helmet yourself.
  9. Tell someone why you love them. Saying “I love you” is special, but take it a step further. A note or letter that includes the reasons why can be one of the most meaningful and uplifting gifts you can give a grandparent, parent, spouse, child or other significant person in your life.
  10. Schedule your annual checkup. Your doctor is your partner in your overall health and well-being. Seeing him or her at least once a year helps you understand important numbers, make sure your prescriptions are correct, know when to have screenings that can help save your life and more. By following your healthy resolutions, you’ll have good news to share!

Checklist for Your Annual Exam

Going to the doctor for a yearly checkup is an important part of your health routine. It’s easy to rush through and forget questions or concerns when life gets busy with work and family obligations. Try to focus and clear your mind of everything else. Your health deserves your full attention – at least once a year! Here’s how to make the most of your annual exam:

  • Ask about general screenings or vaccinations. When making your appointment, find out if it’s time for any shots or tests. For example, you may be due for a tetanus shot, Pap test, mammogram, prostate cancer screening, colon cancer screening or other screening. Knowing in advance helps so that you’re mentally and physically prepared – especially if there are any special instructions to follow such as fasting before a cholesterol test.
  • Review your family tree. Think about your family health history. Have any new diseases or conditions occurred in your close relatives since your last visit? Make notes if you need to, and share these with your doctor. If you have a family history of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer, your doctor may emphasize ways to prevent disease and/or recommend using screening tests to help detect disease early.
  • Note any changes to your health. Have you noticed any body changes, including lumps, skin changes, dizziness, pain, menstrual cycle changes or other problems? Are you experiencing depression, anxiety or sleeping problems? If possible, write down when you first noticed the change. This helps your doctor better diagnose and treat you.
  • Write down a list of questions. Take this list with you, and bring a pen to jot down notes as the doctor answers them. When you’re in the doctor’s office, it can be hard to remember everything. If you or a loved one struggles with hearing, understanding or remembering what is said, ask for help. It’s a good idea to bring a friend or family member to your appointment to take notes for you.
  • Think ahead. Now is the time to set your expectations for the next year, whether that includes losing weight, trying to get pregnant, starting an exercise routine, quitting smoking or other goals. Be sure to discuss these with your doctor. He or she may make recommendations, or refer you to helpful resources and specialists.

Ready for Your Checkup?

Give your health the attention it deserves – request an appointment with your primary care physician today.

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