By Jackie Goldman, health enews, a news service from Advocate Health Care
Whether you loved 2016 or couldn’t wait for it to be over, with 2017 comes changes, and for many, a fresh start with a list of New Year’s resolutions. But one thing that can really spoil the start to a new year is focusing on a bad resolution. While diet and exercise top the list for many, focusing solely on weight loss goals doesn’t always lead to a ‘better body’ and sometimes doesn’t even promote healthy living. In fact, with the focus on the scale, oftentimes people can forget about other important aspects of their life like their mental well-being.
So while you shouldn’t shy away from a weight loss resolution, it’s important to remember there are other healthy resolutions you can make that impact your everyday life.
Dr. Tony Hampton, a family medicine physician with Advocate Health Care, offers these six resolutions to start the year off on the right foot.
- Sleep more. Not getting enough sleep at night can have a host of negative consequences. Research shows that it can have a significant impact on productivity and hurt one’s focus in addition to affecting one’s long term health. One study even revealed that sleep-deprived individuals consume an average of 385 extra calories a day! So adding sleep to your resolution list may actually help if you’ve made a weight loss resolution as well.
- Limit your salt intake. 90 percent of American adults and children exceed the daily recommendations for sodium, according to the CDC. The American Heart Association recommends we consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of salt daily. “Eating too much salt on a regular basis can increase your risk for a number of health issues, including suffering from a heart attack or stroke,” says Dr. Tony Hampton.
- Schedule walking meetings. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity, such as walking, at least five days per week or at least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least three days per week. While it can sometimes be hard to fit in exercise with an already busy day, walking meetings are the perfect solution for people trying to multi-task. They don’t require a change of clothes or a shower, but they count as exercise and they are free. And research has shown they promote healthy living. In fact, one study found that people who engaged in physical activity at work were less likely to miss work for health reasons.
- Call your family more often. Having close connections can help your physical and emotional well-being. One study even found calling your mom on the phone can help you de-stress and calm down on a hectic day. So if you haven’t picked up the phone to call someone you consider family recently, whether to update them on your day or just say hi, give it a shot.
- Make a regular doctor’s appointment. It’s a well-known fact that women’s life expectancy is higher than men’s, but did you also know that according to survey data, men are half as likely to go to the doctor? Annual check-ups save lives. “While you may think you are perfectly healthy, there may be a lump or a bump that is unnoticeable to the naked eye,” says Dr. Tony Hampton. “It’s important to see a primary care physician on a regular basis, so if there is a problem, you catch it early. Many serious conditions and problems when caught early are easier to treat and cure. It’s also important to talk to your doctor and report any concerning changes you notice.”
- Reduce starchy carbs. Studies have shown that limiting starchy carbs will reduce your appetite, resulting in you consuming fewer calories. Compared to low-fat diets or calorie restricted diets, low-carb diets have been shown to be more effective. But the benefits don’t stop there. These diets lower blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides. In addition, they raise HDL, the good cholesterol, and can improve the pattern of LDL, the bad cholesterol, says Dr. Hampton.
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