The start of a new year brings the energy of a fresh start and opportunity for new beginnings. Leveraging motivation that comes with this transition can assist you in addressing habits that may not serve you or create action toward that goal you have been aspiring toward. Now is the perfect time to look at health habits and goals. Where are you thriving? Where could you improve? Are you ready to make a change? These are important questions to ask yourself as you look at what health resolutions to set for the new year. Without a doubt, health is highly individualized, however, there are several basic principles that are necessary for all humans to achieve and maintain optimal wellbeing. With that, here are 7 health resolutions that most everyone can adopt in 2022:
1. Focus on movement
We like to think of movement as “taking your multivitamin for your muscles.” Your skeletal system has over 650 muscles, designed for bodily movement. Loss of skeletal muscle has continuously proven to increase risk for disease and all-cause mortality (1). Being physically inactive creates an inflammatory environment in the body, and promotes muscle loss and fat accumulation. Prioritizing movement is one of your best defenses against this deleterious cycle.
There is no one size fits all approach to movement or exercise, and is bound to look different for everyone. Start with building movement into your everyday activities – like parking in the back of the parking lot, taking the stairs, or carrying your grocery bags from the store. Next, to build on this habit of movement, choose something you enjoy so it’s easier to stick to.This could be going for a 30 minute walk with a friend or doing yoga, but it can also include choosing to train for a 5K or 10k race or joining group fitness programs. Listen to your body and get out there and move.
2. Make more nutritious food choices
Dietary habits have been demonstrated to be the primary driver for complications and death in the most common chronic disease (Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke) in the US (2). This is why taking a closer look at your food choices is so important! If you have to, start small. Focus on one meal or snack a day where you make healthier choices. This might mean going for mixed nuts instead of chips, or swapping a salad or lettuce wrap for a bun with your burger. Whatever it is, you want to focus on choosing whole foods; such as pastured meat and eggs, wild caught fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts,seeds, and for some, properly prepared legumes and/or organic, whole milk dairy products.
These foods provide the nutrition your body needs to perform at its best, because it’s delivered in the form that nature designed and our biology recognizes. When starting a new way of eating, planning your meals/snacks out can be helpful to ensure you have quality food around to avoid temptations or slip-ups, especially with busy schedules or home life dynamics.
3. Cut-out sugary beverages
For some people, this is the place to start making more nutritious food choices. If cutting out sugary beverages like soda is all you do–you’re off to a strong start!
Consuming excess sugar notoriously increases the risk for becoming overweight, or developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Sugar sweetened beverages account for 40% of Americans’ intake of added sugar, and are especially problematic as they create inflammation, and dysregulate hormones associated with blood sugar balance and satiety (3). One can of soda has an average of 40g of added sugar, which is approximately 6.5 times more than recommended daily intake for sugar (6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men). So in 2022, put down the sugary soda or juice, and pick up a glass of filtered water instead. Your body will thank you.
4. Get quality sleep
We live in a go-go-go society which can be physically and mentally draining. Do not underestimate the benefits of getting quality sleep every night and letting your body rest. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute links prolonged sleep deficiency with an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. The average adult should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Unplug at night and avoid screen time to help yourself get those solid hours of rest.
5. Develop a skincare routine
You’re never too young or too old to start taking care of your skin. After all, your skin is one of the first things people notice about you, and it is your barrier that protects you from your environment. 2022 is the year to start taking care of it! Your routine will look different based on your unique needs. No matter what your goals, almost all skin conditions need to be addressed from the inside out. We recommend taking a comprehensive approach to rejuvenate your skin.
6. Spend time in nature
Being indoors for prolonged periods of time, whether at home, school, or the office, can take a toll on your mental and physical well being. With remote working, people are more prone than ever to isolating themselves inside. Research has continuously found that exposure to nature is necessary for human regulation and health optimization. When assessing populations who have more interaction with nature, these people demonstrate better mental, physical, and social health (4). Recent studies even suggest that spending time in natural environments can improve healthy decision making (5). That means if you’re trying to tackle more than one of these resolutions, pairing it with time in nature will make it easier on you!
In the new year, aim to get outside and spend time in a natural space (one with trees, greenery, and or water) for at least 15 minutes everyday. Not only will the change of scenery be refreshing, but you’ll be improving your health and strengthening your ability to follow through with your healthy resolutions!
7. Select healthcare providers who make your health and wellbeing a priority
Our current healthcare system is often rushed and impersonal, when it should be the exact opposite! If you’ve felt this way about traditional doctor officers, consider looking into what a functional medicine practice like Benehealth can offer. This is the year to go beyond “surviving.” Find a healthcare provider who looks at the entire picture, takes the time to get to know you, and makes your health a priority.
To learn more about what Benehealth has to offer you on your health journey, visit our services page.
Lee, G. K. Y., Au, P. C. M., Li, G. H. Y., Chan, M., Li, H. L., Cheung, B. M. Y., … & Cheung, C. L. (2021). Sarcopenia and mortality in different clinical conditions: A meta-analysis. Osteoporosis and sarcopenia, 7, S19-S27.
- Micha, R., Peñalvo, J. L., Cudhea, F., Imamura, F., Rehm, C. D., & Mozaffarian, D. (2017). Association between dietary factors and mortality from heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes in the United States. Jama, 317(9), 912-924.
- Yang, Q., Zhang, Z., Gregg, E. W., Flanders, W. D., Merritt, R., & Hu, F. B. (2014). Added sugar intake and cardiovascular diseases mortality among US adults. JAMA internal medicine, 174(4), 516-524.
- Cox, D. T., Shanahan, D. F., Hudson, H. L., Fuller, R. A., Anderson, K., Hancock, S., & Gaston, K. J. (2017). Doses of nearby nature simultaneously associated with multiple health benefits. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(2), 172.
5. Berry, M. S., Repke, M. A., Metcalf, A. L., & Jordan, K. E. (2020). Promoting healthy decision-making via natural environment exposure: initial evidence and future directions. Frontiers in Psychology, 11.