A New Year’s Resolutions for You

To help you live a better life, we interviewed health professionals and searched the scientific literature.

More than a few people each year resolve to make positive changes in their lives every New Year’s Day. Scientific American Body recommends these resolutions, based on advice from medical professionals and scientific literature. No matter what your goals may be, this list will help explain why virtually nothing you could do would have a greater effect on your quality of life.

It is possible to make a New Year’s resolution that addresses each of these five areas. People make superficial commitments to New Year’s Resolutions that are not effective, according to Frederick Gibbons, Iowa State University health psychologist. A plan is essential for changing any behavior.

To quit smoking, or moderate their drinking, it is a good idea to prepare for the situations and cues they will need to avoid. Gibbons also suggests tempting foods. Social support is important. Warren Franke, Iowa State’s Exercise Clinic director, believes that achieving a weight-loss or exercise goal can be made easier by having a friend or significant other join you in the workouts or following a formal program.

Franke advises that it is important to set short-term goals to achieve these resolutions. Do not feel guilty if you do find yourself sliding. Accept that today was not a great day. The next day will be better. Be kind to yourself. You have too much time in life not to enjoy it. You don’t need six Ben & Jerry’s cookies. A friend of mine buys People magazine for herself if she loses weight. It’s a simple pleasure that she enjoys, but it works.

1 Stay Active
Three sessions of exercise per week, for approximately 30 minutes, has been shown in studies to lower cardiac morbidity or mortality by more than 10%, according to Seth Feltheimer (general internist at New YorkPresbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center).

You must keep your pulse above 100 beats/minute to get the most out of exercise. This is different from a normal walk where you stop at each corner and don’t get a chance of getting your pulse up. Franke concurs and recommends that you do any exercise you like enough to do regularly and that is intense enough to increase your heartbeat, whether it’s walking with someone you know or taking an intensive aerobics class at a gym.

2 Eat Healthy
Feltheimer says that reducing cholesterol intake by 20 percent or lowering total cholesterol levels to below 180 will reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease. Franke says that healthy eating should include at most five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Franke explains that this ensures you get more vitamins and minerals than most people do. It will also increase your fiber intake. This will make you less likely to cheat or eat more calories by eating more.

3 Quit Smoking
It is the advice you have likely heard all your life. Despite the many warnings, tobacco smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco will cause 10 percent of all deaths in 2015, which is 50 times more than HIV. Although quitting smoking is the most popular New Year’s resolution it is also one of the most important to keep.

4 Drink appropriately
Excessive drinking is defined as having more than two drinks per week for men and one per week for women in the United States. More than 2 million Americans suffer from liver disease. The risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure from excessive drinking is also increased.

5 Relieve Stress
Franke says that even if there isn’t any other reason, chronic stress increases the risk of premature deaths. Some of these physiological mechanisms are evident. Your body releases cytokines, or other inflammatory substances when it is stressed. These responses can be extended beyond what your body is designed to handle. Chronic stress causes chronic stress.