Resolutions for 2012: make health a priority
Resolutions are firm decisions - to do or not to do somethingi. There's never a bad time to make a resolution, particularly when it comes to looking after your health. Making a resolution to live healthier will help you better achieve specific goals such as eating more vegetables or drinking less alcohol.
Health-related resolutions are promoted by the Australian National Preventive Health Agencyii. Endorsed behavioural change resolutions include getting more exercise, making better food choices and staying cigarette-freeii. Since it is estimated that you will be ten times more likely to achieve your goal if you've made a resolutioniii, there is great incentive for you to include health-related goals in your resolutions for 2012.
Stay off the ciggies
Smoking is the largest single cause of death and disease in Australia, killing approximately 290 people each weekiv. The next time you pick up a cigarette, think about smoking's detrimental impact on your health and those around you who are inhaling your second-hand tobacco smoke. While it may be difficult to stay off cigarettes, by doing so you can minimise your and your loved ones' risks of developing terminal diseases such as cancerv.
There is strong evidence that individuals will gain health and social benefits with regular moderate-intensity physical activityvi. In contrast, people who are not physically active are almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease as those who arevii. As suggested by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), a lack of physical exercise may also increase the risk of hypertension, diabetes, colon and breast cancer, osteoporosis and premature mortalityvii.
Exercise does not need to be boring or dull. With so many types of exercise available, finding one you will enjoy may be easier than you think! If classic disciplines such as running, swimming, or cycling do not appeal to you, don't give up on exercise altogether. Other exercises worth considering include the latin-inspired, dance-based workout Zumba, belly dancing, Bikram yoga or martial arts. Remember the list is endless and you should not be disheartened if one form of exercise does not suit you.
Eat to live
When combined with an active lifestyle, the consumption of nourishing food may help promote good healthix and reduce your risk of contracting life-threatening diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart diseasex.
To make informed choices about your dietary intake, it may be helpful to read through the "Food for health" guideline devised by the National Health and Medical Research Councilx. Amongst other suggestions, the Council has advised against eating food containing too much salt, sugar or saturated fatxi.
However, eating healthily does not mean you need to sacrifice taste or add a load to your existing financial budget. Planning ahead for your meals may just be the trick to make healthy eating inexpensivexii.
Keep it up
Failing to achieve previous resolutions does not mean you will be set for failure again. One possible solution to making your goals more attainable is by making them as realistic as possible. Rather than jam-packing your schedule with six different fitness activities for the week, perhaps pick one or two that you can stick to. Similarly, take small steps to minimise salt or sugar instead of banishing it completely. Those intending to quit smoking may also find it helpful to turn to friends and family for supportxiii.
With the right attitude and a few motivational tricks in mind, 2012 may be the year for you to work on old habits and establish new healthy routines.
Providing future financial security for your family should not be an after-thought, it is important to consider while you are young and healthy, before you have any health scares, and while there are still a range of options available to you.
As well as setting health-related resolutions, it's a good idea to make a resolution to secure your family's financial future. Preparing a budget and planning ahead by taking out life insurance are great goals to start with.
i Oxford Dictionary,
ii Australian Department of Health and Ageing: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/mr-yr11-nr-nr002.htm
iii Norcross, J. C., Mrykalo, M. S., & Blagys, M. D. (2002). Auld Lang Syne: Success Predictors, Change Processes, and Self-Reported Outcomes of New Year's Resolvers and Nonresolvers. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), p.404
iv Oxygen: http://www.oxygen.org.au/hardfacts/smokinginaustralia
v American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/TobaccoCancer/secondhand-smoke
vi Department of health and ageing: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/Publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-active-evidence.htm
vii National Heart Foundation. Promoting physical activity: ten recommendations from the Heart Foundation, 2001. Available at http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/physical-activity-promoting-recommendations.pdf
viii Physical activity: http://www.racgp.org.au/policy/Physical_activity.pdf, p.1
ix National Health and Medical Research Council: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n31.pdf
x Mission: Nutrition: http://nutrition.mrs.monash.edu.au/effects-poor-nutrition
xi National Health and Medical Research Council: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/n31.pdf, p.5
xii University of Maine Cooperative Extension Nutritionist Kate Yerxa: http://umaine.edu/food-health/blog/2011/10/05/inexpensive-eating/
xiii American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx