The New Year represents a fresh start and is the perfect time to invest in your health. However, you may be unsure what resolutions will have the biggest impact. Doctors say that the easy, tangible actions you take are some of the most important.
“Many people kick off the start of each new year with big-picture health resolutions,” says Jack Resneck, Jr., M.D., president of the American Medical Association (AMA). “The good news is that small, positive health choices made right now can have long-lasting effects.”
Want to get started today? Here are the 10 resolutions the AMA recommends top your list this year:
1. Exercise is essential for your physical and mental health, so get moving today. A good rule of thumb for adults is at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
2. Vaccination is the best protection against a number of serious illnesses. To protect yourself and your family, get up to date on your vaccines, including the annual flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. Your doctor can let you know if you’re due for a COVID booster. If you have questions, speak with your physician and review trusted resources, including getvaccineanswers.org.
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3. Get screened. Estimates based on statistical models show that since April 2020, millions of screenings for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer diagnoses may have been missed due to pandemic-related care disruptions. Check in with your physician. If you’re due for preventive care, tests or screenings, make an appointment. These measures are designed to keep you healthy and help your doctor spot certain conditions before they become more serious.
4. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can increase your risk of heart attack or stroke, and it affects millions of Americans. Visit ManageYourBP.org to understand what your blood pressure numbers mean and what you can do to get your blood pressure under control.
5. One in 3 American adults has prediabetes, a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes if left unmanaged. However, there are steps you can take that can help delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Learn your risk by taking a simple 2-minute self-screening test at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. This resource also features helpful lifestyle tips that can help you reverse prediabetes.
6. Whenever possible, drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages and replace processed foods — especially those with added sodium and sugar — with nutritious, whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, herbs and spices.
7. If consuming alcohol, drink only in moderation. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines that as up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
8. Speak with your doctor or health care professional about quitting tobacco and nicotine use. Declare your home and car smokefree to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure.
9. Follow your doctor’s instructions when taking prescription drugs – especially opioids. Always store and dispose of these medications safely to prevent misuse. Whenever prescribed antibiotics, take them exactly as directed. Not taking the full course can lead to antibiotic resistance, a serious public health problem, and will not make you feel better if you have a virus, such as a cold or flu.
10. Invest in your mental health by managing stress, getting sufficient sleep, exercising and seeking help from a mental health professional when you need it.
If you don’t have health insurance, the AMA encourages you to sign up for coverage at healthcare.gov, which has new, affordable options. The enrollment deadline for 2023 coverage is Jan. 15, 2023. Find more health resources at ama-assn.org. For a healthy 2023 and beyond, invest in your wellness with these doctor-recommended New Year’s resolutions.