Every year, the vast majority of us start off with high aspirations and good intentions. Just about everyone will attempt at least one health- or fitness-related New Year's resolution. In OnePoll's survey of 2,000 U.S. men and women, 34% endeavor to exercise more, 31% wish to pick up a new healthy habit, and 29% will strive to cook more nutritious meals at home. Unfortunately, New Year's enthusiasm doesn't always last.
In fact, "Many Americans will give up on healthy New Year’s resolutions before February," StudyFinds.org reveals. Thankfully, there are more and more resources to help.
For example, the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and Healthy Savannah are teaming up to launch their Enmarket Encourage Health video series. The next installment, "Activity-Friendly Routes to Everyday Destinations" will go live on Jan. 7. During the segment, Program Director Armand Turner will go over safe and accessible walking, biking, and running trails in Savannah, Georgia. The organizations will periodically release new videos featuring practical tips to stay healthy in the immediate area.
Another option is to take your efforts to stay fit entirely online. Websites and mobile applications, like the Re(Solution) Challenge, challenge participants to pledge a certain fitness goal or goals for a greater cause or charity. For example, the Re(Solution) Challenge benefits The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Participants can pledge 25, 50, 100, or even as many as 500 miles of walking, cycling, hiking, or swimming.
It is possible to set and accomplish health-related new year's resolutions in 2021, especially with the right help and support. Here are some of the most healthful and worthwhile resolution ideas to get you started.
1. Take Better Care Of Your Teeth
Did you know that your dental health and oral hygiene are directly related to your overall well-being? According to the American Dental Association (ADA), "The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection." Beyond that, certain conditions you have may dramatically affect the health of your teeth and gums, and some dental health-related symptoms may indicate complications or the beginnings of serious, systemic diseases. For all these reasons, it is absolutely essential to prioritize your dental health care. Follow these practical tips to do it.
- Schedule biannual visits to the dentist. To keep your teeth looking pearly white and healthy, it is best to schedule biannual visits to the dentist. Every six months, a dental hygienist will deep clean your teeth using specialized tools, like periodontal probes, scrapers, and scalers. These visits are an essential step to remove plaque, tartar, and buildup on your teeth that you miss while brushing and flossing.
The hygienist will also review a thorough brushing and flossing routine with you and relay any signs of problems to the dentist for monitoring and/or treatment.
- Maintain a healthy brushing and flossing routine. The Mayo Clinic recommends brushing your teeth an absolute minimum of twice per day. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride. Floss every day, and complement your routine with mouthwash or rinse with a seal from the American Dental Association (ADA) on the label. Replace your toothbrush a minimum of once every three months.
- Limit or avoid sugary and starchy foods. To keep your teeth looking and feeling their best, be mindful about what you eat. Chewy, sticky candies stick around in your mouth, increasing your likelihood of tooth decay. Most types of bread and potato chips ultimately breakdown into sugar. Plus they get stuck in between your teeth.
- Avoid drinking and smoking. Many health-related new year's resolutions involve cutting back on drinking, cutting out drinking altogether, and/or quitting cigarettes. Your dental health and oral hygiene are yet another reason to embrace these resolutions. Alcohol dries out your mouth and rids it of necessary saliva. Saliva helps prevent infection, tooth decay, and gum disease. As for cigarettes, they dramatically increase your chances of coming down with gum disease. "You have twice the risk for gum disease compared with a nonsmoker," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes.
Most health-related new year's resolutions overlook dental hygiene and trips to the dentist. That is unfortunate and risky. Prioritize your dental health as part of prioritizing your overall health.
2. Address Persistent Backaches And Pain
In your health-related new year's resolutions, resolve not to live in pain needlessly. According to WebMD, some back pain with age is inevitable. Starting at age 30, mild back pain and neck pain for short bursts of time are normal. However, there is a distinction between normal and tolerable pain and severe pain that may indicate a much bigger problem.
See a doctor if your back pain is accompanied by sudden weight loss, fevers, numbness or tingling, shooting pain, incontinence, or severe pain that persists and interferes with your day-to-day life. If you have mild back pain, follow these steps to significantly reduce your symptoms and get much-needed relief.
- Book a massage. In a study, "Massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. The massage therapy group also showed an improved range of motion and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher," Spine-Health reveals. A deep tissue massage can make a tremendous difference.
- Establish a regular exercise routine. Health-related new year's resolution often revolves around establishing some type of exercise routine. One of the challenges of starting a new exercise routine is sticking to it. Many fall off the wagon after just a few weeks or months. Intrinsic motivation increases the likelihood that you will stick with it, and one such intrinsic motivation may be that regular exercise reduces back pain. Routine exercise strengthens muscles and helps you maintain a healthy weight, easing pressure on your back. If you are in a lot of pain, start with low-impact aerobic exercises, like swimming and cycling.
- Practice gentle stretching. Up to 80% of Americans will experience back pain. Keep your pain to a minimum by practising gentle stretching. Do gentle stretches for back pain or pick up a gentle, stretching routine, like yoga. Only stretch up to the point where you are comfortable. Avoid pushing your body too far.
- Heat and/or ice sore muscles. Heat packs or ice packs can help minimize swelling, inflammation, and curtail pain. In some cases, it may even help you maintain a greater range of mobility as well.
- Schedule an appointment with a chiropractor. Want to keep your health-related new year's resolutions? Finding a trusted chiropractic health centre can help. After regular chiropractic treatment, patients reported less pain, more mobility, and a greater ability to function. A chiropractor can help ease your back pain now and help limit the pain that may otherwise be associated with a new exercise routine.
Health-related new year's resolutions are not all about exercise and a healthy diet. Start with what weighs on you most, like persistent back pain.
3. Treat Longstanding Injuries
Similarly, many longstanding injuries are treatable -- or, at the very least, it is possible to significantly reduce your symptoms and get relief from near-constant pain. One of the best ways to get relief is to ask your doctor about personalized care. Under personalized care, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist or guide you through a physical therapy program.
Physical therapy is a great option to avoid unnecessary surgery, treat trauma from impacts and injuries, improve balance, prevent falls, and treat pain without drugs, painkillers, or opioids.
Physical therapy typically entails gentle stretching, effective and targeted exercises, heat therapy, cold therapy, and/or electrical stimulation. Your doctor or physical therapist will decide what's best after a thorough medical examination.
4. Get Your Hearing Checked
Again, some of the best health-related new year's resolutions are also some of the least common. In addition to reducing any physical pain that you may have, it is also important to address any other aspects of your health that may be causing you unnecessary hardship or discomfort. For example, if you have trouble hearing and it is interfering with your day-to-day life, it is time to see an audiology specialist.
The problem may be more serious than you think. "While society has a tendency to dismiss mild hearing loss as harmless, in reality, hearing loss negatively impacts nearly every facet of your life, including your brain health," Healthy Hearing writes. "Even slight hearing loss is linked to cognitive decline."
If you suspect hearing loss, talk to your doctor for a referral to an audiology specialist, or use your health insurance provider's website to look up professional services covered by your plan.
5. Go To The Eye Doctor
As with hearing loss, poor vision can be a serious problem. Make one of your health relation new year's resolutions going to see a nearby eye doctor. Eye and vision problems can have serious consequences. They may lead to headaches, migraines, depression, and falls. Those who have poor vision are more likely to get into dangerous auto accidents.
During the exam, a doctor will ask you to bring any glasses that you may already have. They will ask you to read from a chart and adjust lenses to improve your vision. Your provider may also dilate your eyes and/or blow a puff of air into your eyes to test for complications like glaucoma.
6. Schedule And Keep Your Yearly Check-Up Appointment
Add an annual check-up to your health-related new year's resolutions. Too many Americans skip their annual check-up. Adults of all ages are even more likely to skip these appointments now for fear of exposure to COVID-19. Doctors agree: an annual check-up with a family practice doctor is absolutely critical to your health.
First, know that doctors are taking all due precautions right now, including sanitizing equipment and offices, social distancing, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
Second, realize that an annual check-up is necessary, and it can go a long way toward improving your overall health. What are the benefits of a yearly check-up? A yearly check-up can:
- Detect serious diseases and conditions early. Preventative care is more effective than reactive care. It is much easier to work with your doctor to keep your weight, blood pressure, and other important measures of health under wraps than it is to control them once they get out of control.
- Cut back on prohibitive medical expenses. Serious conditions are more expensive to treat. Working with your doctor to remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible can significantly reduce your costs.
- Establish rapport with your doctor. It is easiest to work with medical professionals you trust. Some medical issues are embarrassing or difficult to bring up. If you establish a long-term relationship with your doctor, you are more likely to turn to them in your time of need, even if it involves a taboo or stigma, like an addiction.
7. Adopt A Pet
Some of the most important and worthwhile health-related new year's resolutions have everything to do with your mental health. If you feel lonely, depressed, or even out of shape, adopting a pet can help.
Pet care incurs surprising benefits for pet owners. For example, owning a pet can reduce blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels, and curb cholesterol levels. Pet owners are happier, less lonely, and less stressed. They are also significantly more likely to be active. For example, dog owners regularly walk with their pups to ensure they are healthy -- and, in turn, improve their own physical well-being.
"Higher survival rates, fewer heart attacks, less loneliness, better blood pressure, better psychological well-being, lower rates of depression and stress levels, fewer doctor visits, increased self-esteem, better sleep, and more physical activity are just some of the recorded benefits of pet ownership," Psychologist Harold Herzog tells CNN.
This year, think outside of the box while making health-related new year's resolutions for 2021. In addition to regular exercise and healthy eating, take action to look after other aspects of your physical and mental health. Start with the list above.