New Year’s resolutions: five tips for a healthier year
By Dr. Paul Mayer
Co-medical director of El Paso County Public Health
As another year comes to a close, now is the perfect time to set your intentions for the year ahead. With a few simple steps, you can make 2024 your healthiest year yet.
As you’re setting goals, make sure to set realistic and achievable goals that will work best for you. To help you as you start on your journey, explore five tips below to help support your physical and mental health and well-being.
1. Exercise regularly. Staying active is a great way to improve cardiovascular and muscular health while also helping to reduce stress and improve your mood. Try to squeeze in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week, the minimum recommended by the American Heart Association. That may seem intimidating at first, but broken down into daily increments, that’s about 20 minutes of exercise per day. Try setting aside time each day for an aerobic exercise you enjoy. A few great ways to increase physical activity include brisk walking, water aerobics, gardening, tennis and biking.
2. Focus on adding more healthy foods to your diet. Incorporating more healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins is important to make sure you are getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs. Try incorporating fruit and veggies for snacks, eating fruit with your breakfast and/or eating a salad before dinner and/or lunch.
3. Protect yourself from preventable illness. Make sure to visit your doctor for an annual physical and other wellness checks, including making sure you’re up to date on recommended vaccines. For those who choose to seek vaccines, most routine vaccines are available through your doctor’s office or local pharmacy.
4. Create a nightly routine that helps you sleep. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night is important for your physical and mental health. To help improve your quality and quantity of sleep, set a normal bedtime and wake-up routine, avoid screens, such as computers and phones, before bed, avoid caffeine after lunchtime and cut back on alcohol consumption. Still struggling to sleep? Talk to your doctor.
5. Remember to prioritize your mental health. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it’s important to be intentional about maintaining it. Regular visits with a mental health professional, meditation, journaling and deep breathing are all practices that can help you take better care of yourself. Social connection also plays an important role in health, and research shows that building connections with others and feeling well-connected to the community increases a sense of belonging, enhances emotional well-being and lowers levels of social isolation or loneliness. Make time to connect with friends, family members and those who bring you joy. As you embark on your health journey, remember to be patient and kind with yourself as you embrace new goals. Incorporating small, sustainable and meaningful changes will help support you in creating healthier habits for life.