When people make new year’s resolutions, it’s common for them to make ones that address their health, such as spending more time at the gym or cutting bacon from their diet.
Making a healthy new year’s resolution is easy, but sometimes implementing successful change into a long-term routine can be more challenging than expected, especially when it comes to personal health.
To make sustainable life changes that create a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to pick goals that are attainable and manageable within the parameters of your life. In fact, it’s best to choose just one or two simple new year’s resolutions that will help you implement gradual — but significant — changes in your lifestyle.
Not sure how to get started? Keep reading for our list of 10 simple — and healthy — suggestions for a new year and a new you.
1. Take Steps to Be More Active
A lot of people assume that being active means a daily visit to the gym, but it actually starts outside the gym. Becoming more active can simply mean looking for ways to incorporate more movement into your day. For one person, increasing activity may mean taking the stairs instead of the elevator. For another, it might mean increasing the number of steps taken during the day.
If you’re someone who sits at a desk all day at work, finding these small ways to incorporate activity into your day is especially important — sitting for prolonged periods of time has been shown to increase the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, and death from cancer or cardiovascular disease. If you work in an office, use break times to take a walk around the block, or opt to walk to a coworker’s desk to ask a question rather than sending an email.
While these may seem like small changes, over time, they’ll provide huge benefits. If you’re looking for even more activity, consider joining a group fitness class. Group fitness is a great way to increase your activity levels. Besides the benefits of being active, a group fitness class also combines activity with being social — physical and mental benefits all rolled into one!
2. Join a Gym
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate activity into your day, joining a gym might be a great solution. When you join a gym, you’ll gain access to a wide variety of workout equipment. Having this access is great because it encourages you to combine cardio and strength training into your workouts, both of which are essential for a healthy body.
Once you join a gym, you’ll also have access to fitness classes, group fitness events, and even personal training. For some people, the accountability of group workouts and one-on-one exercise can be essential to keeping healthy new year’s resolutions. A gym is also a great place to meet a friend or willing workout partner. In fact, most people who simply sent workout results to a friend achieved their fitness goals.
3. Spend More Time With Family
Spending more time with your family may not be as common when new year’s resolution time rolls around, but choosing it as your goal can improve your overall well-being. Being with your family more will positively impact your own personal health and also have a positive impact on the rest of your family too.
When parents slow down and spend time with their family, they tend to relax and feel less stressed. Parents who spend quality time with their children are often more cooperative, friendly, and cheerful. Besides that, children who regularly spend time with their parents are healthier and happier.
4. Practice Mindful Eating
Making resolutions about your diet can be a slippery slope. This time of year, we’re bombarded by ads hailing the benefits of the latest diet fads, but the key to improving your diet is often to change how you eat. When you focus on what’s going into your mouth and slow down between bites, you’ll be less likely to overeat because you’re more likely to recognize when you’re full. Turn off the television, and eat each bite slowly. Over time, you’ll develop more of an awareness about your food and what your body needs.
Mindful eating can also include swapping unhealthy foods for healthier options. However, rather than ditching all the foods you love at once, try incorporating one or two changes at a time. For example, if you regularly eat scrambled eggs for breakfast, add a handful of spinach or some tomatoes when you cook them. Or, try swapping a sugary beverage for a glass of water. Once you’re making these small swaps consistently, add in another one. Over time, a few small swaps will add up to big dietary changes.
5. Get Some Sleep
Adults who sleep less than seven hours each night are less likely to be active and more likely to be obese. They’re also more likely to suffer from a variety of health problems, including coronary heart disease, asthma, arthritis, depression, and diabetes.
A healthy adult should get a minimum of seven hours of sleep on any given night, but if you haven’t been getting that much, it can be intimidating to suddenly incorporate an extra hour or two into your sleep cycle. Consider going to bed just 15 minutes earlier each night. If you have to, pencil an early bedtime into your daily schedule. Once those 15 minutes become routine, add another 15 minutes, and so on until you reach your goal of seven or more hours of sleep each night.
If you’re struggling to get to sleep, make sure to keep your bedroom cool and dark. Bump the thermostat down — experts recommend a cool 68 degrees for optimal sleeping — then close your curtains and dim the display on a bedside alarm clock if needed.
6. Spend more time outside
Spending more time outdoors can improve health by relieving stress, elevating mood, and even lowering blood pressure. Making a New Year’s resolution to spend more time outside every day is a sustainable and healthy goal that can benefit most everyone, no matter where you live.
Taking a walk outside during your lunch break, hiking on weekends, going camping with friends, or simply soaking in the beauty of your backyard or local park are all ways to incorporate nature into your daily routine.
7. Limit screen time
Being available 24/7 is stressful and can have a negative impact on your health. When we stay connected via phones, tablets, and other digital devices, we become anxious, distracted, and less productive. Over-attachment to our technology is also causing disrupted sleep patterns and problems with our ability to establish an emotional connection with other people.
When you decide to turn off your devices for some time each day, you’re deciding to prioritize both relationships with family and friends and interests and hobbies you might not otherwise engage in. If this step seems impossible, start small. Each day, turn the sound on your phone off for 15 minutes. Flip the phone over so that you can’t see any notifications that come across the screen. During this 15 minutes, engage in another activity you enjoy — read a book, cook a meal or talk to your spouse, for instance. Once this process becomes a habit, increase the amount of time you keep the phone silent. Once 15 minutes is easy, increase the time you spend away from your screen.
8. Stop Smoking
Smoking puts you at a much higher risk for a long list of health problems. If you make every single resolution on this list but don’t give up smoking, you’re still putting yourself in harm’s way. Take this chance to make a life-changing decision and ditch the cigarettes. Today, there are a lot of aids out there to help with quitting, so make this the year you finally break the habit once and for all.
9. Take care of your teeth
Maintaining your oral health is a New Year’s resolution idea that can and should be sustained for life.
Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can help prevent oral conditions like gum disease and bad breath. What’s more, some research suggests that gum disease may be associated with serious health conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease, making oral care all the more important.
10. Visit your doctor
Getting examined regularly by your healthcare practitioner is important for many reasons. Having regular blood work and necessary screenings can help spot potential problems before they turn into something more serious.
Though your pace of doctor’s visits depends on many things, including the type of medical care, your age, and your medical history, most experts recommend seeing your primary care physician at least once a year for a checkup.
The bottom line
Though most New Year’s resolutions are only kept for a short period, the healthy resolutions listed above are sustainable ways to improve your physical and emotional health that can be followed for life.
Creating a healthier relationship with food and taking better care of your body and mind can drastically improve your health in various ways.
This New Year, try out a few of the resolutions in this article to help make this year — and the years that follow — the healthiest and happiest possible.