Kristen Nichols HeitmanThis is a guest post by Kristen Nichols Heitman, MPH, an epidemiologist in the Rickettsial Zoonoses Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases in the National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She received a Master of Public Health (MPH) with a concentration in epidemiology from Georgia State University.

Do you find yourself making the same New Year’s resolutions every year? Eat better, exercise more, drink less and so on? If you’re making the same resolutions, chances are, you’re breaking these resolutions shortly after making them. An astounding one-third of those who make New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past the end of January. Turns out, there’s science behind how to set realistic attainable goals or resolutions, and how to reach them. Choose specific, achievable and measurable goals. Setting goals with behaviors by building habits.

From getting enough sleep to staying up to date with vaccines, here are eight ways to help make 2018 your healthiest, happiest year yet.

Get some physical activity daily
Exercise doesn’t have to be running miles or biking. Actively playing with your kids or vacuuming your house are examples of ways to reach the recommended thirty minutes of physical activity per day. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, depression, and different types of cancer.
Get enough sleep
Adults need between 7–9 hours of sleep per night. Lack of sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), poor sleep affects many parts of our health, relationships and our job performance. Here are some tips for getting a better night’s sleep.

Don’t smoke or use other tobacco products
Smokers have twice the risk of dying from heart disease as nonsmokers. After 15 years of not smoking, past smokers’ risk of heart disease is similar to those who have never smoked. Most smokers don’t need reminders of the risks. If you’re trying to quit, talk to your employer to see if there are employer-sponsored cessation programs.

Nurture your relationships
Maintain healthy relationships with your friends and family and reach out if you’re feeling stressed or sad. Having a strong support system is important for both mental and physical health. Make a point to spend time with your loved ones.
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Vegetables usually contain more vitamins and nutrients than fruit, but eating more fruit is a good place to start if you don’t eat much of either. Cook more meals with less meat and more vegetables and avoid processed foods. Buy frozen fruits and vegetables for year-round availability and convenience when cooking.
Get vaccinated
Click here to find the recommended vaccinations for your age.
Spend time in the sun, but not too much
Light helps your sleep and mood, being out in the sun increases your likelihood of physical activity and sunlight is the only natural way to get vitamin D. However, too much sun can increase your risk for skin cancer.
Eat and drink less sugar
The easiest place to start with decreasing your sugar consumption is with drinks. Switch from soda to still or sparkling water. Drink alcohol in moderation and avoid mixers such as sugary fruit juices, syrups, and sodas. Try mixing with a squeeze of citrus juice and soda water.
Resources
CDC: Make Health Your Resolution in 2018

The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors’ affiliated institutions.

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