Dr. Amy R. Neal, Family Medicine Physician with Capital Health Plan
Millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions every year. While many people are motivated to start good habits in January, the momentum can wear off in just a few weeks. So what’s the trick to maintaining a healthy routine all year long? Keep it S.I.M.P.L.E.:
The National Institutes of Health recommend adults get at least 7-8 hours of sleep every night. A good night’s rest will help prevent infection, weight gain, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. If you’re having trouble sleeping, make sure you’re getting regular exercise and plenty of sunlight, and go to sleep at the same time.
Increase Your Water Intake
Water keeps every part of your body working properly by flushing wastes and preventing dehydration, kidney stones and constipation. Most adults should drink at least 64 ounces of water every day, but this amount can change depending on your activity level. If you’re tired of drinking plain water, try adding a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber for more flavor.
Move Every Day
Physical activity decreases the chances of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Even small adjustments during your normal day can help you move more – for example, walking during lunch or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Start with a goal of 5,000 steps a day and work your way up to 10,000. Most smartphones have a step-counter, or you can download an app.
Even if you feel like you’re not making as much progress as you’d like toward your health goals, try to remain positive. It’s natural to feel discouraged sometimes, but focus instead on the progress you’ve made and encourage yourself to stay on track. Try a new hobby that lifts your spirits or socialize with friends who make you laugh. Just taking a few deep breaths can relax your muscles, give you more energy and relieve stress. Focus on things you feel grateful for.
Listen to Your Body
Are you hungry? Thirsty? Tired? Maybe you need some social time with friends … or a nap! Our bodies are not our enemies. We just have to learn how to listen to them to know what they need to thrive. One great way to be a better listener is by learning how to eat intuitively. Or, if you’re feeling stiff or distracted, try doing some stretches at your desk.
While we might not like to admit it, adults can be just as bad as kids when it comes to eating vegetables. When you’re at the grocery store, pay attention to which aisles you visit. While the center aisles of most supermarkets feature processed foods that don’t need refrigeration, the outside aisles of the store have healthier options like fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy.
Enjoy your healthiest year yet – and remember, keep it S.I.M.P.L.E.!
For health tips, videos and other resources, visit our Healthwise® Knowledgebase at www.capitalhealth.com.
Dr. Neal is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Capital Health Plan.