Healthy New Year

Healthy New Year

As we welcome 2022, we have an opportunity to reflect on our health habits and make some improvements. Don’t worry — we’re not talking about major New Year’s resolutions that will be impossible to keep. It’s easy to improve your health with just a few small, simple changes.

Get a move on
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention* (CDC) says adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. That breaks down to just 22 minutes a day.

You’ll see immediate and long-term benefits from increased exercise. It will improve your sleep, reduce feelings of anxiety and lower your blood pressure. In the long term, it will reduce your risks for developing dementia and depression. It lowers your risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. It can prevent cancer, strengthen your bones and improve your coordination.

Try exercises
What are some examples of moderate exercise? Here are some activities you can easily do around your house or neighborhood:

  • Walk two miles in 30 minutes.
  • Bike five miles in 30 minutes.
  • Run 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes.
  • Walk stairs for 15 minutes.
  • Wash your car for 45 minutes.
  • Garden for 30 minutes.
  • Rake leaves for 30 minutes.
  • Dance for 30 minutes.

For maximum benefits, experts also recommend at least two days of strength training per week. Start with at least one set of eight to 12 repetitions and aim to increase to two to three sets. Here are some strength-training exercises you can try:

  • Lifting weights
  • Working out with resistance bands
  • Doing exercises that use your body weight for resistance, like pushups or sit-ups

An apple a day
The CDC says we should aim for a well-rounded diet with healthy fats (think avocado, salmon and extra-virgin olive oil) and fiber (fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain oatmeal, beans and peas). Avoid trans fats, which can put you at greater risk for heart disease. Limit your salt intake by eating fewer processed and prepackaged foods. Buy products that are low in sodium.

Healthy sleep habits
Just as you focus on nutrition and exercise, you should make good sleep habits a part of your healthy lifestyle. Researchers have found connections between a lack of sleep and many chronic diseases and conditions, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, heart disease and stroke.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine* and the Sleep Research Society* say adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. To get better sleep, experts say you should go to bed at the same time every night in a dark, quiet room with a comfortable temperature and no electronic devices.

Time for your physical
Think of your doctor as your long-term health partner. Your physician can help uncover issues like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, three of the top health problems in the United States. Your doctor can help you prevent and treat these conditions for better health outcomes. That’s why it’s important to get an annual physical. 

During your checkup, your doctor will measure your height and weight, take your vital signs and check your blood pressure to find any potential warning signs. He or she will also help you stay on track with important vaccines and regular cancer screenings, such as mammograms or colonoscopies.

Follow these simple steps for a healthier you in 2022. You’re worth it!

*The CDC, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society are independent organizations that offer health information you may find helpful.