Your Best Bets in New Year’s Wellness Resolutions

The new year is a time to think about goals, and make resolutions. We have some suggestions to maximize your health in 2014.

Everyone’s optimistically ambitious about resolutions at the start of a new year. We sign up for gym memberships, swear off junk food, and pledge to break bad habits and cultivate good ones. Our great intentions meet with varying degrees of success. 

We applaud ambitious goals, but we also acknowledge our own human frailties. Sometimes, it is the modest and consistent steps we take that yield the greatest rewards. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most beneficial actions you can take for your health. If you choose just one goal on this list, and pursue it consistently, you will reap real health benefits in 2014.

Eat a well-rounded healthy diet.

The latest in nutritional science can be simplified to the choices on your dinner plate. Fill half your plate with colorful vegetables and fruits, a quarter of the plate with whole grains, and the remaining quarter with healthy proteins like fish, poultry, or beans. Cook with healthy oils like olive and canola, and limit your salt consumption to one teaspoon a day.

Exercise regularly.

Three to five hours of activity a week will do wonders for your longevity. If your exercise routine is something you love, you will be more likely to stick with it. A gym membership is great, but so is salsa dancing, a walking club with friends, or riding a stationery bike while you watch your favorite show. It’s the exercise that matters; not how you get it.  Do build in strength training; push-ups, planks, or lunges for a mere ten minutes a day can pay big benefits in stronger bones.

Get enough sleep.

Most of us require seven and a half to eight and a half hours of sleep a night. Adequate sleep doesn’t merely give us energy; it gives us more resistance to colds and may even help prevent heart disease.

Don’t smoke.

If you don’t smoke, don’t start. For smokers, we understand that this may be the most difficult resolution of all. Focus on the benefits of not smoking—which are legion, and take advantage of today’s resources to quit the habit.

Floss your teeth.

Gum disease can lead to serious problems like diabetes and heart disease. The good news is that controlling the bacteria in your mouth is as simple as flossing your teeth every day. If only every resolution was this easy!

Wear sunscreen.

Sun exposure affects everyone. Harmful sun damage begins at an early age, but most skin cancers don’t develop until after age 50. If you wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen all year long, you are reducing your risk of skin cancer—as well as warding off brown spots and wrinkles.

Practice prevention.

It is so much easier to prevent medical issues than it is to treat them. Stay up to date with recommended vaccinations and preventative medical screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies.

It is exciting to look forward to new achievements in a new year. If you invest your time in just one of these tips, you will cultivate a habit that will improve your health for many new years to come.

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