At this time of year our focus and emphasis centers on the hopes for the upcoming year. Many of us make resolutions to improve our health; therefore it is important to think of personal goals that can positively impact your life. Here are five important resolutions that will count and, if followed, will lead to a healthier and happier 2013.
1. Get a medical checkup
If you have been putting off seeing your doctor, the best resolution you can make for your health is to go see one now. A general overall checkup is helpful because it is essential that every individual know whether their blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride (fats) levels are normal. Colonoscopy after the age of 50, mammograms; these are all things that not only good for you to know but may save your life. What are you waiting for?
2. Really look at your diet and weight
One of the best things for 2013 after two weeks of holiday gatherings and parties is to consider your diet and weight. Are you at a healthy weight or do you need to lose some pounds? When you go out to eat, do you tend to go towards the fried foods or heavily processed items? Resolve to increase your healthy food intake; more fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and whole grain options. Be adventurous and try something you have never eaten before. If you eat at fast food restaurants choose the healthier choices or limit your intake or visits to these eateries.
In the world of medicine it is often joked that exercise is the right answer to every question. This is true. Increase your physical activity. Get up and walk. Try a new sport. Exercise isn’t just good for heart health, but it is now shown to prevent the development of some cancers, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Sedentary lifestyles put you at risk for chronic health problems.
4. Develop your mind
In order to prevent conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and other illnesses that often occur with aging, it is very important that you keep your brain as mentally active as your body. Therefore, resolve in 2013 to take up something that will really stretch your mind. Is it time to learn a new language? Pick up a new instrument? Try a new skill? Resolve to increase your reading. Join a book club. The more that your brain continues to expand and try new things, the better the nerve connections that form in your brain and the more resistant the mind becomes towards dementia and other age-related conditions.
5. Learn to deal with stress
One cannot emphasize enough the importance of finding ways to manage one’s stress to promote optimum physical, psychological and spiritual health. This may be done in a number of different ways; through daily exercise, practicing meditation, visiting a house of worship, appreciating nature or helping others in the community. These practices help to make you more resilient to the stresses and strains that are a part of normal life and helps one focus more on what is important.
Keeping these New Years resolutions will help you to become a happier and healthier person.
Dr. Joseph Sirven is a first-generation Cuban-American. He is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurology and was past Director of Education for Mayo Clinic Arizona. He is editor-in-chief of epilepsy.com and has served U.S. and global governmental agencies including the Institute of Medicine, NASA, FAA, NIH and CDC.