Three New Year's Resolutions That Truly Will Improve Your Health, and Your Life
You or someone you know has made a New Year's resolution that seems important now but that will be dropped in a few weeks. But making an important, positive change is possible, and easier to accomplish if you know it's worth the effort.
To help you choose a goal that is achievable and will significantly improve your health, we asked Jason Rice, MD, a Loyola primary care doctor and internal medicine specialist, to name the three key changes you can make to improve your health.
1. Stop smoking "This is probably the single most important thing that anyone can do to improve his or her health," Dr. Rice said. Numerous cancers and heart and lung diseases are linked to smoking. "Quitting smoking improves a variety of risks both short and long term," he said. "In addition, quitting can help you ultimately get off blood pressure or cholesterol medications."
Talk to your doctor for help breaking your nicotine addiction. The American Cancer Society also offers resources and tips to help you quit.
2. Start moving Getting more exercise is a popular New Year's resolution, year after year, but the key to making it happen this year is creating a reasonable plan and sticking to it. "Someone who isn't exercising at all shouldn't set a goal of spending an hour in the gym daily or running every morning," he said. "A more modest goal of walking for 30 minutes five times a week is easier to stick to, and then exercise can be increased once it is part of your routine. Planning to be active with a friend or family member can also help you maintain motivation."
3. Get an annual physical You need to see your primary care doctor at least once a year to stay up-to-date on vaccines and health screenings, and to discuss your health. "Everyone should see a PCP at least once a year, even if they're healthy, to keep up to date on vaccines and screenings," Dr. Rice said. "Even young otherwise healthy patients need to be on top of their risk factors, and everyone should stay current on vaccines because many diseases are completely preventable with vaccination."
Talk to your doctor about your health so he or she can assess your risk factors, such as family history, weight, cholesterol or blood-sugar levels. You may need to be screened for heart disease, diabetes or prostate, colon, breast, lung, skin, cervical or other cancers. Based on your family history and genetic profile, you may be advised to turn to Loyola's Cancer Risk Assessment and Prevention Program.
Dr. Rice sees patients at Loyola Center for Health at La Grange Park.
Loyola primary care doctors also are available in Burr Ridge, Chicago, Elmhurst, Elmwood Park, Hickory Hills, Homer Glen, Melrose Park, North Riverside, Oakbrook Terrace, Orland Park, Park Ridge, in two Oak Park locations, on Lake Street and North Avenue, and in Maywood at Loyola Outpatient Center and Loyola Center for Health on Roosevelt. Of course, there are other healthful goals that you may want to choose or already promised yourself you would achieve. To support your efforts, we offer you these links to videos, tips and resources from Loyola Medicine:
- Find a Loyola Medicine primary care doctor near you
- VIDEO: How to create a full-body exercise routine
- Meet a young man who lost weight and changed his life
- Manage diabetes
- VIDEO: Try this simple stretch to relieve neck tension and pain