Setting Healthier Resolutions

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It’s that time of year again when it seems like everyone is making resolutions for the new year.  Often times resolutions tank within a month, especially when it comes to setting healthier resolutions.

Rather than make “resolutions,” why not look at them as smaller lifestyle changes?  Taking small steps to improve your health proves to have bigger outcomes than your typical resolutions.  Something as simple as making sure to see your doctor on a somewhat regular basis can have life-changing effects on your overall health.

What Are Some Recommended Resolutions for a Healthier Me?

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests focusing on 7 areas to improve, known as “Life’s Simple 7,” which include:

  • Get your blood pressure under control: Higher blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Keep cholesterol in check: High cholesterol can cause plaque buildup in the arteries and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Cut your sugar intake: High blood sugar can cause damage to many organs including the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart.
  • Get active every day:  Exercising can improve overall health and the above risk factors, in addition to improving mood and helping with managing stress, even if just 30 minutes a day.
  • Eat healthier food:  A healthy diet, heavy on fruits and vegetables, helps you feel better and lose weight.
  • Lose weight:  Being overweight puts extra physical stress on your body. If you need to lose weight, meet with a dietitian and ask your doctor if medically-managed weight loss is right for you.
  • Stop smoking:  Smoking cigarettes can lead to lung cancer and increases your risk of heart disease.  Talk to your doctor about resources to help you quit and set a date.  Ask your family and friends for support.

The Domino Effect

Keep in mind when setting healthier resolutions: one small change can often lead to another, creating a domino effect.  For example, eating healthier can boost your energy, making it easier to exercise.  Exercising can then lead to a more active lifestyle and ultimately greater weight-loss.  Losing just 5% of your body weight can decrease blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, and sometimes that’s enough to no longer need medications.  If you quit smoking, your blood pressure will improve, which then reduces the risk of heart disease.