Welcome to the new year. Yes, it’s finally time to put 2021 behind us. It’s our chance to start fresh and focus on what’s important – health and happiness.
“Staying healthy can prevent chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. We know that some things are part of our genetics. But, it’s important to work on the things that we can control,” says Dr. Alaina Payne, a family medicine doctor with Roper St. Francis Physician Partners Primary Care.
Dr. Payne offers these tips for staying healthy in the new year and beyond.
1. Get your blood pumping
There are lots of creative ways to exercise and have fun. Try these workouts to get started:
- Turn up the music and dance through your daily chores like cleaning or cooking. Check out TikTok to learn the latest dance moves.
- Go for a walk. Dr. Payne suggests taking a walk every day for 30 minutes to an hour or set a goal of logging 10,000 steps a day. “We are lucky to have such beautiful landscapes around us to enjoy. I encourage people to get outside, take walks around the neighborhood or on the beach.”
- Strength training helps build bone and muscle mass and torches a ton of calories. Ease into these exercises by starting with a basic routine. Check out these moves from SHAPE to get you going. If you don’t have weights at home, water bottles are a great substitute. As a bonus, freeze bottles to use as an ice pack for sore muscles.
- Virtual workout classes are becoming more accessible every day. Get into an exercise routine at home with one of the many streaming services available. Are you feeling lonely? Some virtual programs offer interactive classes to join friends at a safe distance.
2. Choose healthy food and drinks
Achieving a healthy lifestyle shouldn’t be stressful or feel like punishment. Start with small changes to your diet, and add new food choices over time:
- Instead of frying, try baking, grilling or roasting chicken or fish. Both are great sources of lean protein.
- Swap the soda for water. Staying hydrated helps your body work better from head to toe. Try keeping a water bottle with you to drink throughout the day. Infuse water with your favorite citrus for a flavor boost. Or if you like the bubbles there are many brands of sparkling water available.
- Practice portion control. “Eating healthy isn’t just about fruits and vegetables or plant-based whole foods. It’s ok to enjoy the foods you love in moderation,” says Dr. Payne.
Try using smaller dinnerware. When eating out, ask for a half portion or share an entrée.
3. Listen to your mind and body
Your body is always talking to you, sending emotional and physical signals. Are you listening?
While body aches or fever may be obvious signs of a physical illness, it’s not always easy to know when you’re overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. Take time daily to unplug and unwind, relax and reflect on how you’re feeling mentally and physically. Ask yourself if you’re in a good place or need help.
Dr. Payne suggests seeking an outside perspective. Talk through how you’re feeling with a trusted friend or seek professional help.
4. Get outside
Most of us spend the majority of every day inside. But there are health benefits to including a fresh air break in your daily schedule. The benefits include a daily dose of Vitamin D, lower levels of stress and anxiety, a boost to your immune system and lower blood pressure.
5. Set goals
It can be hard to stay committed to healthy living and self-care — it’s much easier to become your own worst enemy. Focus and motivation are the keys to starting a healthy new year. Achieve both by setting short and long-term goals, and asking a friend or family member to keep you accountable. Better yet, create a support group and develop a check-in system to keep one another on track. If you have questions about your health and wellness routine, Roper St. Francis Healthcare is here to help. Visit rsfh.com to get care