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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

Healthy resolutions in the new year

Photo of healthy foods
Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.

It's 2007! Many of us are recovering from the holidays, hoping to lose a few pounds and resolving to live healthier lives. As you finalize that list of resolutions for the new year, keep in mind that seemingly small steps forward can have a big impact on your health. Incorporating some new, healthy habits into your daily life will not only make you look and feel better, but once established, they will serve you well in the years to come.

So, while you're trying to finalize your list of New Year's resolutions, take a look at these:

1. Talk to your doctor about quitting smoking. Just because you have tried to quit and failed before does not mean success is impossible. You'd be surprised to learn about the different treatments and strategies now available to ease the process. The important thing is to carefully establish a plan with your doctor. After quitting, your risk of heart disease will be cut in half within a year.

2. Eat your vegetables. Mother was right. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables daily is tied to numerous health benefits. While the food pyramid suggests consuming at least two cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables per day for a 2,000-calorie diet, studies suggest that even more of these good food groups are important. For example, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is designed to lower blood pressure, includes four to five servings of fruits and four to five servings of vegetables daily. For a free copy of the diet, visit their Web site at www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/.

3. Take a hike. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that healthy adults exercise aerobically for about 30 minutes a day, most days of the week. Find an exercise that you can incorporate into your daily routine, such as a lunch-hour swim or after-dinner walk. Even a few brisk walks each month has been found to confer health benefits. If you are new to exercise, build up gradually and see your doctor if you experience shortness of breath or chest tightness or pain.

4. Play with your kids. Read to them, listen to them and play ball with them. Have a weekly family game night. One good way to find more time together is to turn off the TV. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend no more than 1 to 2 hours a day in front of the screen. Kids who watch less do better in school and are less likely to be overweight.

Photo of mother and daughters
Make a healthy commitment to the new year for your whole family, more healthful meals and plenty of exercise.

5. Get help for overwhelming emotions. Depression and anxiety are extremely common problems for which many people are embarrassed to seek help. Often insomnia and fatigue are the only indications of underlying depression. If your life is chronically diminished by painful feelings, it is crucial that you talk with your doctor. Excellent medications are available in addition to counseling.

6. Visit your doctor. Most mothers know that babies need frequent well-baby visits. Older kids should also be seen every year or so for a health exam. Teens and young adults probably come in least frequently, but they too, need periodic check-ups. Talk with your doctor about the appropriate tests and needed check-ups that will help monitor your health as you get older.

7. Go out more often. A study from Sweden found that those who regularly attended concerts and plays had lower death rates than those who were less culturally inclined. So treat yourself this year, and while you're it, bring a friend along. Studies also indicate that having a good social network reduces the risk of depression and helps keep you physically and mentally healthy.