Four Healthy Changes You Should Make This Year

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 8:00 AM

healthy changesDo you make a New Year’s resolution every year? How long does this resolution stick around on your to-do list? Many of us start the year with the best intentions only to fall back into our old, unhealthy habits by February or March. This year, make healthy positive changes instead of resolutions and look forward to a healthier year ahead. 

Richard S. Katz, MD, Internal Medicine at NorthShore, shares some healthy changes he would tell all his patients to make this year:

  • Exercise more. Don’t just make a resolution to lose weight again this year. Broaden your overall focus to include a bigger, better change. Implementing a regular exercise routine into your day-to-day life is the single best thing you can do for your health. It boosts your immune system and mood, reduces stress levels, improves heart health and, as a result, you’ll probably lose weight as well.  Your exercise routine should consist of a minimum of 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, plus strength training and stretching.  For example, three days a week of indoor cycling and two days of yoga.
  • Change the way you eat. Don’t try to cut out sweets altogether because you’ll likely overindulge a month or two into the New Year. Instead, focus your attention on your overall diet by eating healthy, well-balanced meals as often as possible. With a healthier overall diet, you won’t have to beat yourself up if you indulge in something sweet every now and then. Make fruits and vegetables the center of your diet instead of meat-based protein. Remember: If it walks on four or more legs, then include it in no more than two meals per week. And, always make sure you keep your portion sizes under control. 
  • Get a yearly physical. Are you seeing your primary care physician every year? You should be. Take the time to make that yearly appointment and do your homework before you get there. Write down any health complaints, research your family history and assemble questions ahead of time. Your doctor can help you better understand what you’re doing right and what you need to improve.
  • Find a way to de-stress. Identify what has your stress levels soaring and find a way to address it. Chronic stress can increase blood pressure, risk of infection and cause headaches, insomnia and more. Finding a way to reduce stress levels can improve both your physical and mental health. Exercise is a great stress reducer and finding a quiet place to sit and breathe can work wonders. Determine something that works for you and make plenty of time for it in your schedule.  In order to handle stress well, we all need seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

What healthy changes do you plan to make this year?

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