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Planning a Healthy New Year in 2024

January 3, 2024

Melanie Scott, DO, Family Medicine

Each January, thousands of Americans flock to local gyms and supermarkets, determined to make good on resolutions to exercise more, eat better, and live healthier lives. By February, many of these goals have fallen by the wayside. New Year’s resolutions are very popular in the U.S., but some studies show that nearly half of participants give up on their resolutions within the month. If our plan is to have a healthy new year in 2024, how best to make our resolutions stick?

When it comes to building positive habits, it’s important to set attainable goals and make plans for how to achieve them. Keeping resolutions may be hard, but the healthy changes that result can improve our physical and mental wellbeing, give us more energy, and even reduce our risk of heart disease, cancer, and stroke. If you want to have a healthy year in 2024, here are some of the goals you could make – and here are the steps you can take to stay on track.

Make time for exercise.

New Year’s resolutions often involve physical activity, and for good reason – an exercise routine can help you sleep better, lose weight, and manage anxiety and blood pressure. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that the average adult get 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week. That may sound daunting, but by simply going for a brisk walk each day after work, or spending a couple evenings playing a recreational sport, you can meet your exercise goals. Choose an activity you enjoy, and pick a time in your weekly schedule when you know you can commit yourself to exercise.

Plan healthy meals.

Around half of Americans want to eat healthier, but how best to do it? Popular diets often require lifestyle changes that are hard to sustain. Instead, start by creating small, positive goals that you can expect to maintain throughout the year. Select a day each week to cook a healthy dinner at home. Replace your soda at lunch with a glass of milk or carbonated water. When shopping, seek out foods high in fiber or unsaturated fats, such as fish, whole grains, and leafy vegetables. Framing these healthy changes as foods to eat more of, rather than foods to avoid, can reduce anxiety and improve your chances of success.

Set a sleep schedule.

Mental health and physical health are shown to be linked, and one of the best things you can do for your mental health is to sleep sufficiently. According to the CDC, one third of Americans get less than their recommended amount of sleep (8-10 hours for a teenager, 7 or more for an adult). Improve your sleep quality by setting a schedule – select a “target bedtime” you know you can achieve, and try to go to bed at the same time each night. Before bed, give yourself time to relax – avoid caffeine, alcohol, and the use of electronic devices, and keep your bedroom calm and quiet. Simple changes in sleep hygiene can reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and make you more productive in the morning.

Start your year with a wellness check-up.

An annual wellness exam is vital for maintaining your health, and there’s no better time to schedule than at the start of a new year. Make an appointment with your primary care provider and ask what preventive screenings and immunizations are recommended for your age group. Learn your important health numbers, such as blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. A wellness visit lets you and your provider identify health problems before they become serious, so that you can stay happy and healthy for the year ahead.

It can be tempting to make New Year’s resolutions that are daring and impressive, but lasting change comes through steady, achievable growth. Set actionable goals to manage your health. Keep track of your successes, and don’t feel bad about your slip-ups – self-compassion is an important part of progress. Give yourself the tools you need to enjoy a healthy new year.

If you need a primary care provider, Community Physician Group can help. Visit the Find a Provider tab to get connected with a primary care provider today. 

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