6 of the Best Health Resolutions for the New Year

Fitness Tips

6 of the Best Health Resolutions for the New Year

The best New Year’s resolutions are manageable goals you can actually keep.

So, rather than a static, quantitative objective like “lose 50 pounds,” focus on qualitative lifestyle improvements. The former can make you feel defeated if you don’t see immediate progress. The latter, however, will give you gradual victories that continue to pay off throughout the year.

Below are six health resolutions that are designed to help you make sustainable headway with your well-being in the New Year.

1. Cut back on the salt

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans over-index on salt consumption.

We often think of our salt intake is merely based on the amount we add to our food – this is a mistake. Restaurants and processed foods typically contain very high sodium levels. Having too much salt in your diet can contribute to increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. The CDC estimates that thousands of deaths could be prevented annually if Americans cut back on salt.

2. Drink less alcohol

Moderate alcohol consumption (defined as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women) can be beneficial to your health. However, many of us exceed that guideline on a regular basis. In fact, 5.9% of deaths worldwide are attributable to alcohol abuse. So consider cutting back – your liver (and likely your weight) will thank you.

3. Get more sleep

Sleep deprivation is a growing problem in America. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 20 percent of us get less than six hours of sleep per night. In contrast, doctors recommend an adult get at least 7-9 hours of zzz's depending on the individual and their quality of sleep.

"Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity have all been linked with chronic sleep loss,” says WebMD. So try to avoid alcohol and nicotine close to bedtime and consider meditation to deal with your daily stresses.

4. Break a sweat a couple of times a week

Exercise is essential to long-term health and any New Year’s fitness plan should include it.

Whether you go to the gym, powerwalk outside or elliptical it up in your house, try to up your heart rate at least twice a week. But don’t do too much too soon – it can result in demotivation and injury. Start with baby steps until you build up stamina and muscle mass.

5. Cook more at home

Just take a glance at the nutrition information of your favorite restaurant and you’ll understand why this resolution is a must, both health-wise and weight-wise. With benefits like fresher produce and a lessened likelihood of food poisoning, at-home cooking is especially preferable to any type of fast food.

6. Look at fewer screens

According to the New York Times, Americans spend an average of 8 hours per day looking at screens. Between TVs, smartphones, laptops, e-readers, and oodles of jobs that require staring at a desktop all day, we’re operating on high-definition overload. Try giving your eyes a break by reading a book or joining the world in-person.

So there you have it -- six ways to gradually improve your health in the New Year. These don’t require a grand pronouncement, but they will put you on a healthier path in a realistic way.